First and foremost, this is not a screed about anyone’s religion being good or bad. I believe that all people who adopt religiosity of one kind or another come to it in one of three basic ways: They are born to it, they come to it of their own accord, or they are driven to it for one reason or another. No matter how they got there (including my non-believing friends) they own it and I am not here to judge (although I do believe that will come at some future point).
If you are born to it, you come to a place in your life where you accept it or reject it. A lot of people go through questioning phases in their life where they look up at the stars and ask deep meaningful questions about the stories they have been told all their lives. Just as much as I believe that you can reject the beliefs you once had as no longer valid in your life, I also believe that the major principles that were drilled into you stick with you for life.
For instance, those Ten Commandments that were given to the Hebrew faith. Despite the fact that nowadays they are regarded more as the “Ten Suggestions”, I think most folks born into a Judeo Christian family at least feel a twinge of guilt as they step past that invisible line. And of the major ones, at least our court system seems to still try to hold people accountable for those stealing and killing sections.
What about other faiths? What principles do they hold pretty fast to?
Hinduism makes up a fair share of the people of the believing community. Of all the religions of any size, being Hindu probably is least stressful, You can believe in any one of the gods they recognize and the key relevancy seems to be that god ultimately is what you make of him (assuming they don’t have a her but I can’t be too sure about that).
Buddhism is another religion of some size and has a stricter set of guidelines and rules. The World Buddhist Council in 1966 said this:
- The Buddha is our only Master.
- We take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha.
- We do not believe that this world is created and ruled by a God.
- Following the example of the Buddha, who is the embodiment of Great Compassion (mahaa-karunaa) and Great Wisdom (mahaa-prajnaa), we consider that the purpose of life is to develop compassion for all living beings without discrimination and to work for their good, happiness, and peace; and to develop wisdom leading to the realization of Ultimate Truth.
Christianity and Judaism have been studied a lot by western civilizations so I won’t belabor the points here. But I have a great book on Islam that is considered to be one of the standards for understanding that faith.
Karen Armstrong’s Short History of Islam gives a fact filled non-judgmental look at the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise… well, you get the point. The faith has had a lot of ups and downs over the centuries since Mohamed had his first visions. I have read a few other books about Islam to become better acquainted with the faith and have found it to be a very diverse set of beliefs. In the beginning, however, Mohamed was fairly clear about what he felt was his calling.
On page 6, Karen tackles one of the critical points of Islam. According to her studies, social justice is the crucial virtue of Islam.
“Muslims were commanded as their first duty to build a community (ummah) characterized by practical compassion, in which there was a fair distribution of wealth. This was far more important than any doctrinal teaching about God.”
Fair distribution of wealth… where have I heard that before?
“The political and social value of the ummah would have sacramental value for Muslims.”
In her interpretation, sacrament in this case equates to the same sacraments Christians hold. If someone were to say urinate on a statue of Christ on the Cross, it would probably upset your average believer. Putting elephant dung on a canvass and calling it the Virgin Mary might evoke some sense of indignity. Pagan symbols being painted on Baby Jesus in a nativity scene will really rile up the faithful. I am sure you have heard about the riots and burning of pagan flags in the streets of Allentown.
Even if tomorrow I woke up with a revelation that shook my beliefs to the core, I am pretty sure I would still fall back on the things I was taught as a kid in Church.
Unfettered by the Ten Commandments, as an adult, I would still recognize that there probably would be serious consequences for violating something I believed as basic truths.
What are the chances that someone who attended a Muslim school could have carried many of those teachings with him? Is it possible that even though that young boy was being pulled along at a very impressionable age could have some of those ideals and beliefs seared into his social conscience?
People of the faith are instructed not to lie to each other. At the same time, they are also instructed that withholding the truth to infidels to advance the cause is alright. Maybe that explains why a President recently said to another President (without knowing the microphones were still kind of hot):
President 1: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”
President 2: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…”
President 1: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
President 2: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.”
Yep, I’m gonna sleep a whole lot better tonight knowing that soon we will all be just part of one big fat happy ummah.
(I think the bunker isn’t quite deep enough yet)
One last thing: If someone who has violated the constitution time and again is holding his big stuff until after his “last election”, do you have any certainty that there will be any more elections?
I guess we’ll find out soon enough.