We think we live in a modern society, with our technology and not throwing people to lions and such. But there are still things that continue to divide us. One of the main things is religion. The popular religion to fear is Islam. Thanks to the events of 9/11, and fear-mongering cowards, people of the Muslim faith were grouped in with the radicalized jihadists. Thankfully for those moronic white folk, most Muslims were easy to spot. If they had dark skin, dark beards and hair, niqabs and other facial or body coverings, they were Muslims, thus, they were evil!
Despite all our advancements, and supposed “civilized society”, many people are still governed by what they don’t know or understand, and it is easier to mock or hate that thing, than try to understand it. Same goes for people of different races and sexual orientations.
But recently, I read an article about an exhibit at the British Museum called “Egypt: Faith After the Pharaohs”. It describes a very interesting melting pot during the time after the death of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, when Egypt became part of the Roman empire.
It was during this time that various religions, both old and new, were mixing and, most importantly, cohabitation with each other. One example mentioned shows a grave stone bearing a Jewish name, with Christian symbols next to an ancient Egyptian sign of life, with writing in Coptic Egyptian. In one piece of stone shows someone who accepted Jewish, Christian and ancient Egyptian iconography. Others also show similar mixes with Islamic symbols as well. During that millennium, various faiths and beliefs co-existed and co-mingled.
I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, but the idea that a society thousands of years before us existed where people took bits and pieces of various religions into the life without question or fear is almost mind-boggling when you look at how our society is today.
Sure many people follow their religion today in peace and acceptance of other’s beliefs. But there are many small-minded idiots who can’t seem to accept someone who has different beliefs than them. Then you have the cowards who judge a whole group of people based on the violent and brutal behaviour of a few. They don’t realize that the same could be said about ALL religions, if you dig up the whackos and nutjobs who ruin the reputation of a group for everyone else.
Those people who attack other religions may not realize that their words and actions are exactly what the extremists of the religion being attacked want. They use that negativity to justify their radicalized cause. It’s like a vicious circle. Hate begets hate.
But it isn’t the extremists who try to keep people divided. Regular people too can be part of what keeps religions apart. In the Ten Commandments, God says “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. Pretty much everyone who remains faithful to this day follows that commandment, even if they don’t follow any of the others. I’m sure there are similar passages in the texts of other religions who have a variation on the “I’m the only one” Godly decree. Ok, that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean you have to shut out, ignore, or dislike other religions.
Maybe that is the point of the exhibit at the British Museum. Besides the fascinating look into ancient Egyptian history, they are also saying that mixing of the religions and beliefs isn’t a terrible thing. Maybe, down the road, barring any apocalypse, that is where our religious path is taking us. Maybe, someday, there will be a point where people take bits and pieces of the religions they like. Or, even better, each religion will be like a different language, saying the same thing. So people will use different parts of each language to say what they feel and desire and pray for.
Personally, I’ve started to see different religions like this. Different ways of saying the same thing. When you break them down, and get past all the flowery stuff, there is a lot of good in religion. It can be helpful to many people. It can comfort them when they feel alone, lost, without direction, in need of guidance. as much as people may hate me saying it, science is sort of a religion too. No, not Scientology! Actual science. It is the religion of logic, and probably Atheists.
Sadly, until a day comes when people see religion as a language of belief, people will manipulate it to their own evil purposes. From Jihadists to those Westboro Baptists, there will be people with small minds manipulating something good into something bad, with many of us fearing them and clinging to what we know.
After reading that article, I’ll be wondering why we can’t be like those ancient Egyptians.