Wednesday 28 January 2015

Opinion: We are up against a menacing kind of religious puritanism

This is the terrifying paradox of zealotry: no one hates humanity more than those who believe they know what's best for it." Howard Jacobson
Before us
Reading this in the Wit & Wisdom column of The Week magazine simply crystallised my thoughts about activities of religious extremists around the world.
In terms, we can all agree that the Islamic State has eclipsed both the Taliban and Al Qaeda in their utterly hubristic quest to somewhat purify their world and rid it of any person, view, thought, opinion or act that dares question their premise.
They have arrogated to themselves an omnipotent and untrammelled control of everything, having the power over life and death, killing off people like cattle with impunity and sadly, it seems without any consequence.
Religious puritanism
For how much longer we can continue to tolerate this rotten menace in our 21st Century world, I cannot tell, but the more we allow it to fester, the more this cancer will metastasise into an incurable blight on our humanity.
What we are up against is a brand of religious puritanism that imposes itself relentlessly on our humanity, grabbing headlines with more daringly desperate and reprehensible acts that threatens to condemn our civilisation to a mediaeval existence.
Like someone offered in a tweet to me a few weeks ago, he defined puritanism as the fear that someone somewhere appears to be having fun or enjoying themselves.
Human expression curtailed
You them ask why life is not here to be enjoyed? Why should we not be happy? Why should we not appreciate beauty in nature and in things, in art, in music, in sport, in theatre, in dancing, or in every form of human expression?
Why should anyone think they can impose their beliefs and their extreme interpretations of religion on others where it is clear we are neither uniform in our devotion or allegiances?
These are people, flesh and blood like you and I, yet they act like there has never been any like their kind that walked the face of this earth. Tombstones all around the world mark the graves of those who thought they will live forever, some never even had a sign for posterity where they returned to dust. History stands as a forever indicting judge over those whose heinous acts against our human coexistence brought pain, death, suffering, war and worse to their fellow human-beings.
Where is the outrage?
The height of this hubris was first demonstrated when the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas, a treasure of human antiquity about 15 centuries old that some misguided religionists suddenly thought did not fit with their religious world-view.
Since then, there religious puritans and megalomaniacs have ravaged and vandalised, treasures, cities, records and histories, convinced that they serve a cause too great for any other to comprehend. They terrorise with violence and atrocity, purveying their absurdities with more alarming rhetoric, this needs to be stopped once and for all.
What we can lose
As we watch these people and let them thrive, with satellites in Africa, Asia and beyond; just imagine if this plague sweeps into Egypt and razes The Great Pyramid of Giza to the ground, because the Pharaohs were not of a particular religious persuasion, or see how Damascus reputed to be one of the longest inhabited cities in human history being torn down in our time.
It is unacceptable and the longer these people are allowed to exist our very existence is not only threatened, we become lulled into a form of acquiescence that history will never ever forgive our generation for.
If there is no leadership to arrest this nonsense like Nazism was arrested and defeated just 70 years ago, then what a pitiable existence our once resilient humanity has come to.

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