"A Blossom in the Wilderness"
Radical Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq have determined that "God" wants to purge their country of infidels. Specifically targeting the Christian population in the city of Mosul, these Muslim terrorists have issued a warning, "ether convert to Islam or you will be killed;" and to make their point crystal clear, they have rounded up a group of innocent Christian children and publicly beheaded them - all in the name of "God."
Yesterday a picture of a sweet little Christian girl from Mosul was posted on Facebook. I could barely look at her photograph, cowering in fear, guns pointed at her by laughing soldiers who were about to slaughter her - it was almost too horrible to imagine. I also noticed one of the Facebook comments someone had made about that horrific picture: "Christians need to unite, let's gather up Muslim kids and kill them in response, see how they like it!"
When I read that outlandish comment yesterday, my first though was,"Christians have already done that." Back in the late 12th century Pope Innocent III (yes his name really was "Innocent") mounted a a series of crusades to cleanse the "Holy Land" of infidels, only this time the "infidels" were Muslims. Over a million people were brutally slaughtered in the name of Christ - many of them innocent children.
As I looked at the Facebook picture yesterday and the comment that followed it, another image also came to my mind- a picture of innocent children killed by an Israeli mortar while hiding in a United Nations' shelter in Gaza. While, on the surface, the Israeli -Palestnains conflict isn't a religious war, there are a sizable number of Jewish fundamentalists who are fueling the fires of battle. They firmly believe that "God" gave the land to the Jewish people and they are committed to purge it and cleanse it of Arab "infidels," while on the other side, Islamicists commit themselves to purge their land of Jewish occupiers…what a mess.
So much horror, war, bloodshed, purging, the slaughter of innocents - all perpetrated on the very soil from which Judaism and Christianity and Islam first sprung up, and all done in the name of "God." It's no wonder that so many people today have turned their backs on religion.
But, as I see it, the atrocities committed in the name of "God" over all these many years have absolutely nothing to do with "religion," - at least they have nothing to do with any "authentic" religion.
While there are all sorts of differences between the various religious traditions, and while each has its own doctrine and teaching, there is one, common, essential core identity from which all these religious paths flow. "Compassion" lies at the heart of all religious paths and any who deviate from this basic core have lost the way and sometimes even walk in the opposite direction.
From their very beginnings, the Hebrew people were formed and fashioned by the "Law of Love,"- love of God and love of neighbor. Jesus came along and ratcheted up this "Law of Love" by teaching that foreigners and strangers are also the neighbors to be loved, even an enemy and those who do you harm are to be loved. In Islam, every single prayer is addressed to "Allah," the Compassionate One."
As I see it, it's not so much that "religion" is bad, it's the way the path is wrongly followed that makes religion destructive.
When asked about his faith, the Dalai Lama once responded,
My religion is kindness.
I think that probably says it all.