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#DontPrayForParis

November 17th, 2015

There is a lot of #PrayForParis on Facebook [facebook.com] and Twitter [twitter.com] but I think praying is exactly the wrong response… The men who did this prayed to the same God just before they killed those people. I posted my feelings on Facebook when the tag first crossed my feed, but thought it deserved a bit more thinking…

I’m absolutely assuming the people who did this did it in the name of their interpretation of their religion and that that religion was Islam. Since IS has claimed responsibility. But I’m not being anti-Muslim here, terrorism in the name of religion is not confined to any one religion – Catholic Republicans or Protestant Unionist in Ireland, Hindu nationalist in India, Buddhist nuts in Sri Lanka or Myanmar. It doesn’t matter. Religion is one of the most divisive labels on the planet creating in-group and out-groups over whose supernatural belief is more correct — a, by nature, un-provable conjecture — just perpetuates violence in the name of that belief. Religion, of course, does not, in any way, have a monopoly on creating in-groups and out-groups on which people will base violence; nation states promote patriotism which begets nationalism, just another form of bigotry. Race, sex, age, disability, an any number of other factors are all convenient facets to frame ones in-group and treat all others badly. It’s natural, stereotypes might be wrong but they make life so much easier. In fact they are an absolutely necessity allowing us to quickly gauge situations that could be life threatening and so our minds are very good at stereotyping things, including people. When applied to other humans in a “civilized” society is where we run into issues. The irony is that we should all know to look beyond our instinctive stereotyping and live to a higher standard, after all the golden rule “occurs in some form in nearly every religion and ethical tradition.” (quoted from the Golden Rule [wikipedia.org]). Everyone posting their #PrayForParis thoughts should take a moment to remember the atrocities committed in the name of their religion. Instead of praying try to remember that 300 years since the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment [wikipedia.org] and we still struggle to live up to its ideals; best expressed in the French “liberté, égalité, fraternité” [wikipedia.org] (excusing its inherent sexism).

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