A double shot of expresso with 2 pumps of white mocha as I sit thinking about the dangerous ideologies of 2014. So before I start, here is something I just came up with. A litmus test for your ideology (or religion):
- Does your ideology seek to appreciate the beauty in all other ideologies?
- Does your ideology resolve conflict through peaceful dialogue only?
- Does your ideology limit the autonomy of individuals?
2014 saw the militant group Boko Haram claim responsibility for the death of 42 students in northern Nigeria. We also saw the uprising of ISIS and the continued slaughter of Hezballah (Party of God). I am not sure why this type of terror in the name of god should surprise us? After all, this has been going on for over 5000 years. Going back to 1209 C.E. every single occupant of the French city of Beziers was massacred. The city was taken by Catholic crusaders during the Albigensian Crusade, launched by Pope Innocent II in 1208. I am sure you have heard the phrase, “Kill them all. God will sort them out”? Well, this was coined by the Catholic crusaders. Except, their exact words were “Kill them all. God will recognize his own.” From burning alleged witches in Salem to the Spanish inquisitions, organized religion has a bloody past.
My point, however, is not to detail the bloody history of organized religion because we know it all too well. I believe we need religion, despite its bloody past. Why? Because religion is binds groups together in pursuit of a value system that encourages altruism and reciprocity. Believe it or not, even the terrorists who flew 2 planes into the World Trade Centers in 2001 were fighting for a value system based on altruism and reciprocity.
Religion is not the problem. Dangerous ideology is the problem. With or without religion, groups will band together and fight for their ideology. Ideology, after all is based on values. Whether it’s political, moral, or cultural – the need to violently or peacefully propagate and perpetuate ideologies will never end. Why? Because people will live with a set of values (good or bad), and those values matter. Values carry an incalculable and intrinsic worth. These values manifest themselves within families, human rights, and even animal rights.
Ideology rests on the foundation that a particular set of goals, expectations and actions ought to take place. Poisonous ideologies foster suppression, oppression, and incite hostility – but usually the name of a “greater good.” The danger with an ideology is that is carries the expectation that all of humanity ought to adhere to the ideology. Unfortunately, ideology most often resides in a small box of ‘absolutes’ and forgets the vast cultural diversity and pluralism that permeates the 196 countries and 7 billion people on earth. The only problem with this is that most people who are passionate about their ideology will think their way is the right way, contrary to all other ideologies. Poisonous ideologies are always cloaked in righteousness.
What we believe matters.
May we see the beauty in other faith and ideologies,
May be always seek peaceful dialogue without resorting to violence,
May we always respect and uphold the autonomy of every individual.