In light of the 17th Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan-and the ongoing violence going on around the entire wrold-I figured I'd post a reflection piece I had to write for a class I'm taking now.
Since this is the final reflection paragraph of this course, I saw it fitting to discuss a theme I detected running throughout the majority of the World Religions we have studied. In the first readings we were clearly, and rightfully, instructed not to compare characteristics of religions to one another as it devalues each individual religious experience. Yet, there seems to be a common thread that ties these World Religions together-so much so that there is an entire course devoted to it at Wilfrid Laurier University and probably many other post secondary institutions. Many of these religions have been established through , and or have suffered great amounts of violence. This is evident when one reads the book Lakota Woman, or examines the lessons for each week. The unanswerable question seems to be why this occurs.
Historically, as we have read, violence has been a great part of religion, and unfortunately, the bloodshed has continued through to, supposed, modern times. The first aspect of the Islamic tradition our online notes discuss is the violence and battles that established this religion. Muhammad was persecuted by the Meccans and was forced to negotiate with the citizens of Yathrib because his message of monotheism was ferociously rejected by powerful leaders from his own tribe. These leaders vowed to destroy Muhammad and thus, the violence began. Not to mention, once “the Prophet” died, the following caliphs faced many of their own battles and assassinations. What is it within the nature of humans or religion that contributes to so much fighting?
It is not only in the Islamic tradition that violence is and was used in the name of religion. Within Judaism, the glaring example is the Holocaust that was declared against the Jewish communities of Germany and surrounding European countries by Hitler and the Third Reich. Million of Jews suffered great torture at the hands of this murdering political party. The violence within the Judaism tradition also continues with the fighting between Palestine and Israel over the rights to the ownership of the “Holy Land.” Is it the mixing of politics and religion that causes such atrocities?
Christianity, the other monotheism religion studied, also has a bloody history. The Crusade, witch burnings and the campaigns set against the First Nations people to Christianize them, are only few of the horrific events undertaken in the name of the Christian tradition. It is interesting to note that when Christianity was in its beginning phases, its followers were persecuted and suffered greatly as well. Meetings had to be held secretively for the followers could be and would be punished for their belief in Christianity. It took many years before public places of worship were established and even then, many of the churches were damaged or obliterated. How is it possible that one religion that endured persecution, could possibly forcefully and violently try to spread its message?
I suppose many of these questions will remain unanswered. Many different people have many different reasons for the violence that exists within the religious institution.It is an ongoing debate that may never be answered, but perhaps the more important question should be, how do we stop the violence now? We cannot change the events of the past, but there is a chance history can be stopped from being repeated over and over again. Then again, do the above questions, and others, need to be answered to put an end to religious bloodshed? It seems kind of like a chicken and egg question. There is one positive thing that has come out of all of this rambling-at least we’re talking about it and recognize that it is happening. That is a start.