Thursday, 30 May 2013
The Beating Heart Of Wisdom
I think it's truly inspirational that a mosque in York offered custard creams and tea to EDL supporters who came to stage a demonstration the other day. This is "Love Thy Neighbour" in the truest sense. Christians often annex this phrase as one of their own, although they would be quite wrong on this count. It's origins lie in multiple sources, perhaps most famously in the musings of Confucius several centuries before. Either way, whatever the source the principle is sound. Never repay violence for violence, hate for hate. All disagreement should be peaceable, lively, and armed with such qualities as irony, passion, humour, and a commitment to truth seeking. As I've often stated, the best of religion these days has to circumnavigate a lot of very nasty text which exists within the respective holy books themselves. Both the Koran and the Bible contain a lot of unsavoury instructions, ranging from the murder of children for verbal disobedience, to the rape of conquered females. The list is long and, well, pretty much consistent with the mindset of the civilisations of the time. During the latter part of the last millennia Christianity was subject to the enlightenment, an extended and robust critique which rendered its ugliest teachings redundant. Don't, by the way, ever listen to a Christian who states that Jesus had already done this. Utter rubbish; he very specifically endorsed every jot and tittle of the Old Law. No, the pressure came from the outside, and down the years Christianity has been thoroughly neutered and bought inline with progressive secular thinking, give or take some silliness over issues such as sexuality or abortion. Islam is in need of a similar reformation, and perhaps the response of those in York is some indication that the overwhelming majority of Muslims want no part in any violent jihad. As we speak there are some seeking to reform and re-interpret the texts to fit a new millennia, a new cultural zeitgeist. I wish these brave souls all the luck in the world. Wouldn't it be lovely if an Islamic enlightenment swept through all rank and file believers, cleansing them from the nastier edicts of the Koran. We are not there by any means, but I'm persuaded that the majority of Muslims want to live peaceably alongside those of other cultures. They want to raise children, pursue dreams, laugh and love and live and lead rich and vibrant lives. I want this for them as much as I want it for myself, but I understand that things take time to change. As you know, I don't have a whole lot of time for religion, yet I do defend the right of citizens to hold any views that do not come at the expense of others. I am critical of religious ideas, but I try not to make my critique personal. I know only too well that every person on earth shares a common ancestry; we're all part of the great human tide. If we can live together and hold separate views then I'm fine with that. My line in the sand is where the convictions of others threaten real harm to those of a different persuasion. I will stand alongside any Christian, any Muslim, and any atheist who values peaceful freedom of expression. And I hope that they would stand with me as I speak against anything that sought to steal this, erode this, or choke the air from its lungs.