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LET US NOT HONOUR TERRORISTS WITH RELIGIOUS DESIGNATION
It is a fact that true and mainstream Muslims never allow terrorists to be designated as Islamic. It is the same with Christians, we must not allow intentional killing of other persons in the name of Christian faith. Therefore, we must not honour murderers with adjectives like “Muslim” terrorists. We don’t call Ku Klux Klan neither Nazis “Christian” though admittedly they were called by that designation in the beginning with official blessing of some mainline churches. Terrorists are sadistic murderers often using religion as an excuse. Religions do not kill. If they do, they are serious apostasy. Let us all be clear about that.
However, I must admit that history is full of officially sanctioned killings with executions and wars. Likewise terrorism was sanctified by the religious authorities. Burning at the stake of heretics and witches; Crusaders killed Muslims, Jews, and Orthodox Christians alike; Hundred Years War between Catholics and Protestants; the bloody partition of India into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. The list goes on and on. Ku Klux Klan began not only as anti-African American, but also as ant-Catholic and Anti-Semitic movement allowing extra-judicial executions by lynching. Even supposedly the most tolerant religion, Buddhism, had legendary professional warrior monks, just like the Templars in Catholic Church.
The problem of religions causing such a deadly apostasy is absolutism and certitude. God is absolute but humanity isn’t. No human knows God. However, in order to assert the superiority of their religion, believers often claim monopoly of absolute truth. We must know we can never be certain that we know God completely. It is like waiving a flashlight in the dark sky. You can not claim all the mosquitoes you see with the flashlight are all mosquitoes that can bite you. That would be ridiculous. What you see is not all, but you can see mosquitoes are there. This is why all religions are called faith: you see only partially and the rest is a mere hypothesis.
Faith is an admission what you know is not total. With such an incomplete knowledge, nobody has the right to judge other to be untrue and destroy them as heresy. Faith by definition has no right to condemn others. This is why no religion can claim the only rights to exist and to exclude others. But religions often do. That’s the problem.
WE KNEW BUT DID NOTHING
Many people predicted what we are witnessing today: deadly conflicts, mass migration, and starvation, all due to injustice. We were warned so we knew: humans are not so dumb. Then how come the world did nothing and let the predictions come true. They were preventable. The reason: there was no strong enough political will. Politicians saw lack of interest among their constituencies. We see only short term gain and are willfully blind to reality. Many who cried out and warned about an impending crisis were called bleeding-heart crying wolf and were laughed at.
In 1968, there was a huge UN conference about development in Uppsala, Sweden. I remember it well because it was my first year in Africa and extreme poverty was in front of me. The world came together to discuss development to eliminate inequality and poverty. It warned of dire consequences if the issue was not addressed. There would be conflicts and unrest because of inequality and injustice. Due to advanced technology of mass media e.g. televsion, poor people could see how other world lived and their misery was not normal. They wanted the same thing. It was predicted, consequently there would be uncontrollable and unstoppable mass migration like breached Hoover Dam.
In 1974, there was another big UN conference about imminent food crisis. It was held in Rome, Italy. But one thing I remember very well is Henry Kissinger’s bold promise. He was Secretary of States of the U.S.A. He said: “In ten years, there will be no child going to bed hungry.” Ironically, exactly ten years later, 1984, I was on the way to Geneva, Switzerland, to be a member of the team to coordinate the food aid to Africa. In the 1980’s, in Ethiopia alone about one million people died of starvation.
So here we are in 2016, there are conflicts in the Middle East, drought and starvation in Africa (again), and unstoppable mass migration in Europe.
We have been hearing about the climate change for more than two decades. Record breaking hot summers, melting ice in the Arctic, bigger and bigger forest fires in California and Canadian Prairies. Still there are enough number of people who deny that there is a crisis. They say it comes around every now and then. Don’t worry about the planet earth. It will survive; without us.
“When will we ever learn.” – Bob Dylan