Each and every person on this Earth has an inalienable right to live in peace, to pursue their own happiness, and to be regarded and treated as equals to all other people in every measurable way. If you hold religious beliefs that are at odds with these concepts, then your religious beliefs are a problem. A problem that needs to be addressed.
As a group of human beings occupying this planet simultaneously, we have a collective choice to make: either we strive towards those simple yet critical ends, or we don’t. If we choose to – and I tend to believe any halfway reasonable Supreme Being would want us to – then we have to stop acting as if religion is exempt from any manner of criticism.
By instead handing out metaphorical free passes for hurtful or prejudicial behavior under the banner of religion, we are choosing to protect the beliefs of few over the rights of many. If history has taught us anything, it’s that a world where beliefs have more value than rights will always arc towards division and oppression.
I’m not here to say religion is worthless. I’m not proposing that religion is inherently evil. What I will say, though, is that it does all too often serve as the Trojan Horse for which our inherent evils and flaws are justified. We need to remove that excuse and hold people – particularly, influential large groups of people – accountable for any actions that trample on the rights, freedoms, or lives of others.
In the wake of another terrorist attack committed in the name of Islam, this time the killing of 12 French nationals at a satirical magazine for their “blasphemous” cartoons depicting Muslim figures, Islam as a religion and its relation to terrorism is again under a microscope.
Surely, any reasonable person understands that these acts, no matter how often we may see them reported in the media, are committed by perpetrators who are an infinitesimally small portion of the religion’s followers. A majority nearing a totality of Islam’s followers are peaceful, loving people.
The cognitive dissonance that takes root in the minds of many of these same reasonable people, though, is one that is too often deemed hateful or ignorant to speak openly about – namely, why are so many deadly attacks committed today in the name of Islam?
If you want to appeal to my common sense and logic to realize that the monsters who do these dastardly things are in no way representatives of the Islamic religion, then you should understand that those same faculties will compel me to want to discuss why, in the year 2015, the Islamic religion has people committing such atrocities in its name.
Obviously, I don’t have an answer. It’s safe to say that at this minute, no one does. The answer involves untangling religion, politics, and economics in many places where the three are tightly intertwined. But we’re going to need to find one to peacefully coexist, and ignoring very visible and arguably obvious common elements of brutal incidents is contradictory to that effort.
Every religion has a history peppered with damning and deadly errors in action and judgment. Over time, they were forced to bend to the righteous will of the people and adapt. Suggesting that certain aspects of Islam may be anachronisms in a time where people worldwide are fighting for and getting more rights and freedoms than any other time in history isn’t hateful or ignorant – it’s an integral part of a discussion we need to have to move forward together as a functioning society.