On Religion, Tolerence, and Harmony. By Devi Rajab

Screen shot 2015-06-24 at 3.16.52 PMMyopia is a dangerous condition of mental burrowing. At some point or the other the mole in us is forced to resurface and for a short while we have a wider view of things around us.  If we dare to look beyond the seas we will discover that religious fanaticism is the new 21st century scourge and that we may become the new battleground on which this war will be waged on the African continent.
On a daily basis we SA are so consumed by our own national issues of poor governance, crime and corruption that little else matters. Yet Jon Donne warned us that no man is an island and that we are all inextricably bound together condemned to a planet under environmental siege. Recently however it would appear that the siege has grown tentacles to incorporate a mental contagion driven by religious fundamentalism and SA has become ensnared into its mire. Isis we are told is slowly but surely making inroads into SA spreading its tentacles of darkness to claim its ‘victims’ (whom they would prefer to describe as liberators) among our nationals.
How far fetched are these stories? In reading the account of a latest SA recruit who described his desire to revert to a life strictly governed by Islamic values, I recall the instance of a young medical doctor who engaged me in a discussion of the formation of caliphates a good few years ago.  He described in great depth how he viewed the entire world under the formation of geographical entities where the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would govern every aspect of its functioning. He displayed no regard for the diversity of other religions. His mother a progressive Muslim woman was of the opinion that her son was quite mad. His logic was weak but his passion was strong. Excessive passion is a dangerous by-product of fundamentalism.
There is a growing religious fervour among youth of most faiths today. Religion may be regarded as the new opium of the young as they struggle to deal with an increasingly unsettling world.  In a recent India Today Survey of 16-30yr old it was found that religion was very much in vogue. 94% of the people surveyed said that they believed in God. A substantial majority (86%) categorised themselves as very religious. In all ≤ of the people surveyed felt that religion had become an essential part of their lives. On all university campuses worldwide there is a resurgence of religion among the youth. On South African campuses the dramatic return to faith may be discernable through an increase of the numbers of student religious clubs and societies- a distinct departure from the past when political parties were the order of the day and Marxism and existentialism reined supreme. Today the scene is strange for us youth of the 60’s where humanitarian values emanated from a political consciousness that transcended religion and unified likeminded people from all disparate groupings. So Christian, Muslims, Hindus all came together to fight an unjust ideology. At this given point in time young people are faced with the challenge to survive a cruel world of child abuse and domestic violence and it is perhaps this need that gives rise to a Godhead.com. But while this may be understandable it invariably also constitute a problem of ethnic fragmentation and may lead to divisiveness among the youth if they choose to politicise religion and make it into a weapon of possession, building compartments between themselves instead of bridges.
Our world today is being torn asunder by mainly young men and women, who claim that God is on their side, and who, perpetrate acts of violent destruction in the name of religion. Such individuals are driven by the certainty that they are privy to sacred truths and are therefore morally obligated to do everything in their power—no matter how many people may suffer—to act upon these truths. They tend to display an inflated sense of personal righteousness, moral superiority, and ideological purity. Against this frame of reference there is a tendency to dehumanize and even demonize those who oppose them. Religious fanatics are not easily identified as being wild-eyed or deranged; quite the contrary, they can present themselves as thoughtful, educated, well mannered, quiet, controlled and responsible people inspired by the loftiest of ideals. Nevertheless, their absolute confidence in themselves and their cause, their willingness to create massive destruction for a supposed higher good, and their dehumanization of their opponents, all indicate the imbalance of a personality disorder.  The nature of this condition is such that it can afflict anyone, from the person on the street, to the international terrorist, to the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.  The dynamics that underlie religious fanaticism have been recognized by many psychological thinkers. For example, C. G. Jung (1966) wrote of “positive inflation,” Alice Miller (1981) described grandiosity used as a defence against depression, Gary Rosenthal (1987) utilized the phrase “inflated by the spirit,” and Greg Bogart (1995) warned against “the shadow of vocation.” More recently Robert Jay Lifton (2000) has described this type of personality structure in his concept of “functional megalomania that fuels what he calls the new global terrorism.
The question arises why are we producing so many anarchists in the name of religion and why some religions are more fertile grounds for this personality aberration to occur.
As the global influences of the world bring cultures together in a desperate need for mutual survival, religious fundamentalism threatens to tear all the major faiths apart.
How can people who claim that they worship a Oneness in God wantonly destroy the creation of others in search and praise of the very same God. It is theorised that fanaticism and addiction grow by crowding out a person’s other values, and therefore a person who is firmly committed to a broad range of personal values is better able to resist fanaticism. Kofi Annan former United Nations secretary general pleaded “true faith elicits respect for others and also demands respect for what is sacred to others”.  In this regard SA has a proud record of religious balance worthy of emulation and preservation.

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One thought on “On Religion, Tolerence, and Harmony. By Devi Rajab

  1. These fundementslists want the return of the so called grand dsys. History is always writen by the victors

    Like

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