Came across a quote today by Napoleon Bonaparte that talks about how religion is the reason the poor don’t murder the rich.
It struck me how this could be interpreted in two ways. That religion has brainwashed them etc etc (isn’t there a Marxist quote that goes around saying that and is taken out of context) or that religion allows (allows? Helps?) Them to retain their humanity. I think I’ll concentrate on the latter.
Because honestly, I’ve been in angry places where I’ve also doubted God and struggled with my brand of theism and spirituality. It’s not a good place, not for me. And so the question of religion comes to the forefront. I have a friend, converted into atheism from Christianity who has taken to posting memes about the various people suffering around the world. An African child with no water to drink. War in Syria. Other portrayals of human suffering. And so the question of spirituality, of God, come to the forefront.
I think Osama was right when he said that in instances of disaster, the question shouldn’t be “Where is God” but rather “Where are God’s people”. And so, It’s not that religion keeps us from killing someone because otherwise we’ll be punished, it’s more that religion and spirituality can be a great force that reminds us of our own humanity. A lot of Black activists have said that in considering Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, peoples and activists instantly knew they didn’t want to kill their oppressors willy-nilly even though they had a right to. And this was because activists retained their humanity, their core of compassion, and turned it around to help their own communities. Their core was not so damaged, and their humanity was not going to be further damaged by participating in negative (rather than “hurtful” ) kinds of actions. Their core needed to retain this humanity so they could serve their own communities.
I think religion & spirituality plays a huge role in that. It gives people hope, it helps people retain their humanity, their compassion, their integral core. It helps people from keeping destroying themselves. Negative actions can destroy a person’s inner core. Religion and spirituality helps with that.
Which has nothing to do with the oppressor. The oppressor is thrown in the periphery. The oppressor does not matter.