|The apartment where seven members of
one family died in a murder/sucide
Seven people, all members of the same family, were shot in an apparent murder/suicide on Christmas Day in Texas. The family had just finished opening their gifts when another member of the family, dressed as Santa Claus, arrived and after shooting the others, turned the gun on himself.
This is a terrible tragedy that underscores again the level of violence simmering under the surface of too many lives. It also became an opportunity for one person to use as an example of how religion makes people violent.
I had promised myself that I would not get involved in debates and heated discussions over the Christmas period but that statement was so patently absurd, I responded and the ensuing conversation was even more so; particularly because religion played no role in this shooting what so ever. Santa Claus is not a religious symbol and has nothing to do with religion but that, of course, was irrelevant to the person making the case that this tragedy supported her view that religion was the root cause of it all.
It is frightening how little thought goes into many opinions and this particular case is indicative though of how easily and all too quickly so many grasp at anything that seems to confirm their own bias and prejudice.
Religion, like government, biker gangs, boy scouts and countless other institutions is strictly man-made. No religion was formed by any God nor was it demanded and like any institution, it is comprised of people who have joined for an infinite number of reasons.
Some join because they believe in the principles of the institution. Some join because they find a renewed sense of purpose while others join because they feel empowered as many have in Occupy. Some join to take advantage of opportunities to be a part of something or to make money or to prey on the weak and some join because they are afraid not to as was seen in Nazi Germany.
|The Dali Lama
There aren’t too many religions that command someone to put on a Santa Claus suit and murder his family but there are countless examples of people who have used political and religious beliefs as their excuse for cruelty and evil behavior. Others have used economic circumstance or the environment. In Canada, a rabble used a hockey game as their excuse to vandalize a city.
Humanity has much to recommend it and people like Gandhi and Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King and the Dali Lama have shown some of the best of our nature through compassion, integrity, spirituality, humour and good will. Unfortunately, human nature also has a dark side and people like Stalin and Hitler, Kim Jung Il and Assad in Syria are reminders of that dark side.
In the end, it isn’t religion, or any one of countless other institutions we create, that is responsible for the evil that people do, it is people.
Some are mentally ill others merely sociopathic. Some are greedy for money or power while others are so lost in their own self-righteous beliefs that for them the ends will always justify the means. We saw it in New York on 9/11 when Muslim extremists blew up the World Trade Centre and killed thousands and in Salt Lake City where two men blew up a federal building killing and injuring too many innocent people.
We’ve seen it in countries around the world like Germany, the Soviet Union, North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ireland and in our own countries here in North America. Drug cartels kill hundreds in Mexico and for nothing more important than money.
In my city, a man was beaten to death by two punks he tried to stop from stealing a pumpkin from a grocery store.
|Riot in Vancouver following an
NHL playoff game
No, it isn’t the fault of religion or political organizations or even the boy scouts. It’s the fault of people who are lost in the dark side of human nature and by other people, like you and I, who look for easy things to blame for that behavior.
I believe that it is impossible to fix anything without knowing what is causing the problem and as long as we continue to blame the soft targets that merely confirm our own bias and prejudice, we will never fix what is broken.
It isn’t reserved to institutions. It starts with individuals who refuse to look beyond what they already believe and only accept what confirms that belief. There is no learning or understanding in that way of living and all that is accomplished is a hardening of the attitudes that divide us. We are rapidly losing the ability to understand that someone with a different opinion to ours is not necessarily an enemy.
The world is a big place and there is more than enough room for all of the different opinions we each may hold. What there is no room for is a lack of willingness to look beyond what we believe to what the world offers in the way of true understanding.
It’s just become too easy to blame a race, a culture, a government, the wealthy, religion or those who for whatever reason don’t see the world the way we do. It is the way it has always been and until we understand that, it is the way it will continue to be, unfortunately.
© 2011 Maggie’s Bear
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