I hope you've been keeping well, and it seems only appropriate to wish the Christian readers and followers I have amongst you a very happy Easter!
I've been wanting to write a blog with the same title as this one on religion since the shootings in Paris but became somewhat disheartened when my laptop decided to shut itself down whilst I was in the process of writing. After even more shootings in different places around the world, the rising profile of the Islamic State (ISIS) and a little closer to home, the comments the PM made on this country and religion earlier, I've decided to alter what would have been my original post a bit.
Religion can be interpreted in many different ways depending on which perspective you take. It could be an incredibly important part of your life as to which you're devoted. It could be what you turn to when you're in need of help, or it could be something you're reluctant to believe in. Whichever one of these 'if' statements applies to you, I think it's important we understand that recognising and not only tolerating, but accepting everybody else's opinion is essential. Just because you don't pray 5 times a day, that does not make you inferior. The same logic is applied to if you believe in The Big Bang Theory, just because you have scientific evidence on your side - it doesn't make you superior. At the end of the day, we should be embracing the fact we are all open-minded enough to choose our own beliefs and whatever we choose them to be need to be accepted.
However, it appears that racial tension is one of the biggest factors that turns what could be a somewhat utopian society into a dystopia. Nobody is ever going to have the same beliefs. One of our biggest attributes that distinguishes humans from the majority of other species is that we will remain different because we each have different experiences, pasts and factors that influence us. We also have the power of communication - that ability is often abused though. Instead of sharing our beliefs, embracing our different paths and enjoying the beauty in a multi-cultural society, we appear to consistently put pressure on those both of a different religion, and saddest of all, those of the same belief.
We don't just come up with this hatred ourselves though. In fact, our sources are far from our own creation. Indoctrination always has been a powerful tool used by the media (I do find myself frequently saying this - I'd like to think people would now be strong enough to realise we should have our own opinions based on ourselves, instead of being brainwashed.) and let's face it, pretty much every media source is biased to some aspect of the political compass. I'd like to use the example of Islam and ISIS, which I know has already been speculated over quite a bit, but it's valid in this context. ISIS are a horrific terrorist organisation, and I will admit myself, seeing their videos from training, seeing what they do to those 'different' to the norm (i.e homosexuals) in the countries they operate in, is scary. The atrocities they commit are condemned by Atheists, Agnostics, Christians, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. ISIS are an extremist organisation. They are not Muslims and it's important to reiterate this. Yes, so ISIS were the culprits behind blowing up a Catholic monastery, and a Christian church - but they've done the same to a mosque. No religion is inferior, just as no human race is superior.
What we can learn from that given example, just in case it isn't clear, is that terrorism does not have a religion. You are actually, believe it or not, making yourself more vulnerable by becoming indoctrinated, therefore fearing your own kind. Guess which pretty successful dictator used that technique?
Ah yes, that'd only be Adolf Hitler. Nobody wants a repeat of that. Well then, let's not put those methods into practice.
Whilst you might be an innocent reader just catching up on the latest news, the media know what they're doing. Humans are quite predictable. We aren't only destroying relationships in our generation, but we're scarring the bonds that are necessary for our children's generation, and our grandchildren's generation. We really aren't being cruel to be kind in this case.
Another incident that the majority of you will know about (because of you guys being Chelsea fans and all that) is this act Mourinho did in celebration:
*I think the caption from the lovely @AliHayek96 was quite fitting. Why speculate over Jose doing this but not the guy next to him? Well, let's ask the press, shall we?*
Whilst Mourinho is incredibly quiet over his political views and hasn't officially converted to Islam, there is an enormous amount of speculation over this. Perhaps he misinterpreted the religious symbol behind this celebration. Just because he's doing something that typically religious people do, there is no need for comment. I'd just like to make the point that so what if Mourinho did convert anyhow? What does it matter which religion he believes in? It doesn't change the person he is anyway. We can again thank the media for twisting this, as an example.
It isn't like the authorities are helping anyhow. Earlier, a friend showed me what David Cameron said over this country's religious status. Him saying Britain is a 'Christian country' was bound to cause tension. You cannot imply one religion is superior when the other 40.7% of inhabitants in your country aren't Christian. Actually, only 4.8% of the UK population from a year and a half ago were Muslim. We were probably under a different impression because of the media's influence, unsurprisingly. (I must admit I was quite shocked when I saw how little of the UK population was Muslim though.)
Earlier on, I mentioned judgement playing a part in how we perceive the religious, and non-religious, in this case. Just to clarify a few facts:
1) Just because people choose not to be of a faith, that is their choice and that should be respected. Trying to say otherwise would be like insulting that person for who they are. I myself am christened; I didn't really get a choice in the matter because I was only around 2 years of age. I wasn't brainwashed with Christianity when I finally became able to make my own decisions regarding religion and it does not make me inferior because of doing so. Nor should I be judged. And the same applies to anybody else similarly agnostic/atheist.
2) A passage from the Bible (6:37) states "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned." Again, this is important. It breaks away from the stereotype that the religious (Christians in particular) are judgemental. As I've said, nobody has any right to do that. It revolves back to the old saying of don't do to others what you wouldn't want doing to yourself.
3) Islam is not a sexist religion. Or a racist one. In fact, in the Qu'ran, it states that we should respect and honour all human beings irrespective of their religion, colour, race, sex, language, status, property, birth, profession/job and so on. (17/70). This is such a meaningful statement in my eyes, and it takes away no end of negative stereotypes associated with Islam. Again, acceptance over intolerance.
Obviously, as much as I'd love to, I cannot justify the inaccuracies within different stereotypes and clichés we have over all of the different religions. Some of what you may have read could have been perceived as quite shocking, which isn't surprising because my jaw dropped a few times in my spontaneous research.
The key word there is 'research'. If we actually bothered to use our initiative and find things out for ourselves instead of having 'information' (applying that term loosely for obvious reasons) fed to us like we're incapable. We have the power to find out anything we want, and I suggest we do that instead. Next time you see something on the news, actually consider what perception you're getting. Even the vocabulary the reporters use can influence how we think/feel about a certain issue. And whatever you do, hold your own judgements and go on what you feel. Don't adapt other people's judgements, especially if they're negative ones.
After all, the world has enough negativity in it. People are what they are, and we shouldn't be attempting to try and change that. As long as nobody is hurting you, just let them get on with it.
I'm going to end that here, with fear of sounding like a patronising grandmother if I keep these life-lessons up... Anyway, have yourselves an enjoyable, relaxing week!
Thanks again for reading. Your views/comments are always appreciated!