By Al Dexter.
When I was a child, my parents had a saying that still occupies a prominent place in my mind. It concerned people who were over impressed with themselves and thought they and theirs were somehow of superior quality. They would disgustedly say, “They think their shit doesn’t stink.”
There are lots of people with that attitude; ranging from individuals and families, locales and nations, political parties and organizations, religions and races, etc. I especially recoil when I hear the Jews referred to, by others and especially by themselves, as “the chosen people.”
Give me a break!
Chosen by whom? A marginal Canaanite tribal God that morphed into what we find worshiped today over centuries of clever development and synchronization with a whole host of preexisting deities and religious systems.
That self-worshiping, pompous, haughty pronouncement is an insult to every other tribe, nation, family, etc. on the face of the earth. It demonstrates a major problem afflicting all the nations and groups who trace their origins to any mythological or genetic connection with a guy named “Abraham.” His racial and theological descendants are classic examples of those who are absolutely convinced that “theirs” in actual fact does not stink.
This was all brought to mind very forcefully when I read an insightful article by Rajiv Malhotra. You can find the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rajiv-malhotra/hypocrisy-of-tolerance_b_792239.html.
Rajiv opens his article with the following statement: “It is fashionable in interfaith discussions to advocate ‘tolerance’ for other faiths. But we would find it patronizing, even downright insulting, to be ‘tolerated’ at someone’s dinner table. No spouse would appreciate being told that his or her presence at home was being ‘tolerated.’ No self-respecting worker accepts mere tolerance from colleagues. We tolerate those we consider inferior. In religious circles, tolerance, at best, is what the pious extend toward people they regard as heathens, idol worshipers or infidels. It is time we did away with tolerance and replaced it with ‘mutual respect.'”
Here is the “rub.” No Abrahamic religion considers any other religion to be on an equal par with what they consider the only legitimate religion – THEIRS. All others are heretical nonsense and must be overcome and/or stamped out. That can even include the other Abrahamic faiths.
To Judaism, Christianity or Mohammedanism, acceptance of the legitimacy of any other religion is blasphemy. When they “tolerate” they usually consider it a great leniency to even allow existence to any other religion or any criticism of their religion. To acknowledge any other religious system as equally valid paths to God is the height of blasphemy in their eyes. Some individuals in all those religions are tolerant toward those of other faiths, but the majority of the leaders and the “movers and shakers” within those religions are not. Forget respect.
The Latin origin of “tolerance” refers to enduring and does not convey mutual affirmation or support. The term suggests an imbalance of power, with one of the parties in the position of giving or withholding permission for the other to exist. The Latin word for respect presupposes we are all equally worthy of honor. There is no room for arrogance and exclusivity in mutual respect.
The US constitution presupposes we are all equally worthy of honor, no matter what our religious beliefs may be or whether we believe at all. Yet, even US Presidents who are sworn to uphold the constitution have stated that an atheist cannot be a loyal American citizen because this is “one nation under God.” (The god of Christianity, of course.) Our armed forces often deliberately discriminate against non-believing members and try to force them into attending religious gatherings. Those without “faith” have serious career problems.
“One nation under God” is an unconstitutional, prejudiced assertion based on that statement being erroneously and presumptuously added to the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950s when we were engaged in a cold war with the “godless” Soviet Union. It wasn’t in there when I received my early education in the 1940s and early 50s.
Struggles with alien systems constitute a great danger to our freedoms. James Madison realized this. He wrote: “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” He also stated, “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” President Eisenhauer realized that danger when he warned against the military-industrial complex.
Our nation and its constitution were set up by great men like Thomas Paine who resisted the outrageous and intolerant exclusivist claims of all religions, and he was basically acquainted with only the Abrahamic ones. His Age of Reason is available on this site and I recommend a careful, thoughtful reading of it to everyone.
There was a time when intolerance and lack of mutual respect only led to localized bloodbaths that didn’t threaten humanity as a whole. All that has changed with the advent of the atomic age and the prospect of global cataclysmic warfare prosecuted from land, sea, air and space. In their zeal to stamp out the “infidels,” the Abrahamic faiths are in great danger of destroying the entire earth and everything on it, including themselves.
I was never too worried about an atomic holocaust being started by the Soviet Union. They didn’t suffer from a religiously based insanity. They were quite rational and realistic as a whole and knew that a basically sterilized planet would be of very little use to them, even if they were among the unlucky few who survived.
That kind of rationalistic thinking just doesn’t exist in the minds of radical Islamists. They would confidently and lustfully look forward to their 72 virgins as they slowly died of radiation poisoning or froze to death in the nuclear winter.
What do female Muslims look forward to? Maybe they don’t count for any more in the Muslim afterlife than they do in this one. Where do Muslims think their god gets all those virgins? Is there a virgin bank in paradise with vaults full of virgins in suspended animation? Or, is there a celestial operating room with overworked doctors restoring hymens for virgin recycling? I’ve even heard women comment that they were no bargain as virgins. You’ll have to excuse me. Religious stupidity just tends to get me going.
As I pointed out in my article, Born Into “Suckerhood,” most of our beliefs and values are instilled in us by our parents and the society around us at a very early age. Tolerance, and certainly mutual respect, is not a prominent part of those teachings because we are also taught that we should not tolerate evil and any teachings contrary to what we were taught are deemed evil. Contrary opinions and practices can only be tolerated grudgingly and self-righteously.
The more authoritarian and repressive the society and the more incessantly these approaches are drummed into us, the more prejudiced and unyielding we become. Anything contrary is deemed an evil and, if possible, has to be stamped out. In the adherents mind, anything that doesn’t agree with their beliefs and approaches becomes heretical, smelly “shit” that stinks to high heaven. Their beliefs, of course, smell like wonderful perfume.
Would someone please open a window and/or turn on the fan?