Peace is Possible through Faith without Fanaticism
If you read the news, watch it on television or check your smartphone, the world seems to always be in a state of turmoil. Many of these are mislabeled as religious conflicts. Religion can be seen to have two parts, faith and culture. Faith is internal and private, while culture is external and public. Faith is the knowledge that defines our moral code, establishes our place with in society, and within the cosmos. The public culture component, is the sharing of wisdom, folk stories, and traditions. Fanaticism is found within the cultural aspect, as within each of us is an innate desire for peace and harmony.
Ernst Troeltsch divided religious behavior into three parts. churchly, sectarian, and mystical. Howard P. Becker further divided these and introduced the concept of a cult. “Becker’s cults were small religious groups lacking in organization and emphasizing the private nature of personal beliefs. This was later further defined as a group that derived their inspiration from outside the predominate religious culture.
If we look at the middle east, it’s Muslim vs Jewish in one place. In Eastern Europe it’s Christians and Muslim. In America there are groups of Christians who blame the Jewish for all their problems. In any other parts of the world, its two groups who share a common faith, that are fighting each other. They aren’t fighting each other over a different outlook on life. They are fighting each other, not over their faith, rather over culture.
When fanaticism becomes rooted into any religion, where a single person can control matters of life or death, and challenge those who don’t agree about the depth of their faith, we have witnessed atrocities. Nations and kings have wrapped a cloak of religion around their desires for more land, gold, or even over a desire to have a certain person as a spouse. The Crusades,followed by the forced colonization of major parts of the world, with the kings financing the church to convert the heathens were common up until the last century. In other cases an individual has become deluded and lead their followers into becoming a cult. The Peoples Temple in Jonestown in 1978, The Solar Temple suicides during the late 1990s, and Heavens Gate followers in 1997 who considered the comet Hale-Bopp to be a heavenly chariot to carry their souls into the next life. There have been many others throughout history, in all parts of the world.
So with this history of conflict, is there hope for peace. Yes for today with the availability of information, instant communications, we have the ability to diffuse situations. We have groups such as the Council for a Parliament of Religions promoting interfaith co-operation. The Dalai Lama wrote a book, Toward a True Kinship of Faith: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together. If you look at people around the world regardless of the faith they claim, and those who claim not to follow a faith, you will observe the happiest people are those who are helping to relieve the suffering of others. All the major religions of the world share compassion for others as a basic tenant, and evn those who aren’t religion acknowledge compassion as a motivating force.
So lets live our Faith without Fanaticism, and instead concentrate on promoting happiness for all beings. Then perhaps we will live in a place where the sound of guns, no longer ring in our ears.