I have had several journals that started out with a sort of disclaimer or apology for being less than tolerant of religion. This time, I don't justify, apologize, or disclaim anything.
Nigeria, in the last decade or so has seen thousands of people die because they were Muslim OR Christian. They are killing each other by the hundreds with guns, machetes, or whatever means available. Women and children slain in their homes because they were a different religion. What possible God sees this as OK? OH
perhaps it's the god that commands his followers to kill thousands and thousands of people in the Bible. Seems like the same one to me.
There are property rights and what the government refers to as "indigeneship" in Nigeria. It means whoever was first to live on a particular parcel of land, has the rights to it. Add to this law of "indigeneship" the fact that Nigeria now produces a LOT of oil and you have the makings of a war. Ironically, the "democratic" government has embezzled four to eight BILLION dollars a year, so none of it goes to the Christians or Muslims anyway, but they kill each other over the prospect of owning some land and working their way up the loose ladder of politics.
This situation is tragic beyond belief. It illustrates the words of Voltaire,"If someone can make you believe absurdities, they can make you commit atrocities".
I'm tired of hearing people say it "
isn't the religion but it's the people". It isn't guns that kill people
blah blah blah.
People desperately want to defend their "faith", desperately want to keep their comfortable beliefs justified, and deny the fact that their religion is at the root of ANY murder, bigotry, or hate crime. But there it is
over and over again in the bible, in history, and in present day Nigeria. The thing that I find most baffling is religious people's refusal to READ facts. I can never seem to get it through my head why someone would CHOOSE to be ignorant about something they think is important. But this is almost beside the point because the point is not WHETHER they believe or not, the point is, how do those beliefs allow or command people to behave?
Just yesterday I read this headline in the news:
"Homosexuality criminalized by Nigerian Senate: Christians, Muslims cheer"
It is now a crime to be gay in Nigeria. Anyone who dares enter into a same sex relationship or marriage faces a 14 year prison sentence. Any public display of affection between same sex couples results in a 10 year prison term. In addition, anyone advocating for gay rights or gay marriage gets 10 years in prison also. For these "crimes", one is handed a prison sentence and the Christians and Muslims CHEER! They fucking CHEER when two people who's only crime is to simply love each other, are thrown in prison. And if you think that kind of horror only happens in Nigeria, listen to Presidential candidate Rick Perry's "Strong" video clip on Youtube. How can anyone who CHOOSES to be this ignorant run for President of our country?
I'm sad, I'm sickened, and I'm broken hearted to see, in a modern world, this kind of religiously motivated hatred, bigotry, and homophobic paranoia create and pass these kinds of laws in Nigeria or anywhere in the world. Add to this tragic scene, the fact that in Nigeria you can marry a 13 year old girl. How is this possible? It's OK to violate a child but unlawful to love another human being if they are the same gender. THIS is a DIRECT result of their beliefs in their gods.
Set this against a background of advances in science where the Higgs boson or "god particle" is very close to confirmation, and we have such dichotomy that it strains comprehension. Scientists are able to make these discoveries, put a man on the moon, and send rovers to Mars, but we imprison two people for loving each other. In spite of the advances in every area of science and research, people still believe there's a guy in the sky watching us and judging our behavior and this sky guy tells his followers to kill anyone who doesn't share his beliefs, imprison others who love each other differently, but it's perfectly acceptable to violate a 13 year old child.
After my trip to Japan where I witnessed first hand the destruction of the tsunami, I have become even more a lover of life. ALL life. I have become more of a pacifist. I see no justification for killing another human being and no reason to believe in some guy in the sky who'd allow innocent children to be viciously drowned and swept away by a wall of water. No reason to believe in a supposedly loving power that would allow Miki Endo to announce over the loudspeakers of Minamisanriku to,"get to higher ground, tsunami warning" and then be enveloped by that very tsunami. This type of god must either be a loveless power or a powerless love
useless and pathetic as a candidate for a god in my book either way it goes. Christians love to say,"His ways are above our understanding" or "It must be for a reason". This COMPLETE surrender to unconsciousness, this choosing of ignorance, this denial of factual information flies in the face of all that makes us human and aware. It is the ultimate Christian denial of personal responsibility and it is THIS denial that allows murder, imprisonment, and hatred to flourish.
I dislike writing journals full of negativity because I am such a positive person. But those news headlines hurt my heart deeply. Because I came out of a deeply religious background, because I am now free of that blindness, and because I now celebrate the different ways human beings love each other
I MUST speak out. Shout out against what I see as evil and ignorant and speak up for love, peace, and understanding.
Therefore, my final observation is this
I know human beings will survive even the worst of natural disasters. I believe people will survive and learn from even the worst onslaughts from ignorant factions. Somehow we made it through the Inquisition (which no one expected! lol) (wonder how many people will get that reference?). I maintain the belief that some day, being gay will go unnoticed because it is no different than having red hair or blue eyes. WHO we love won't matter and THAT we love, will be celebrated. I choose to believe that some day Christianity, and hopefully all religion, will fade away as did the mythology of the Romans and Greeks. We'll understand the consequences of building barriers between humans, we'll understand the cosmos much better, and hopefully our place in it. I choose to believe we'll learn to live in harmony with our planet and be better to Mother Nature and to each other. I lived to see the Civil Rights movement, but we have a long way yet to go.
I CHOOSE to live positive. I CHOOSE to believe in mankind, in art, and in love. I see no other way to live. I see no other way to BE, than to spread peace and love where ever I go. In spite of what I see in Nigeria, I choose to believe it can't last. While I am just one person, I am resolute in my choice to live free and spread that same message. I'll continue to write, to donate time, and to use my skills to influence where I can.
So in this season
I will spend time reflecting on how fortunate I am and what a marvelous and wondrous world I live in. The best present I could ever have for Christmas, is the realization that I celebrated another year walking around this beautiful Earth. Happy for the gift of life
and all life.
Happy Heinekens to you all.