Monday, December 24, 2001

Looking at the fundamentalist Islamic extremism that led to September 11 (and its aftermath), it has been suggested that the world would be a much safer, happier, place if everybody were were agnostic. The same sentiment has been expressed before, in response to examples of fundamentalist extremism from all the worlds religions.

The point of this theory is that the promise of a better world to come (after death), is an inducement to volunteer for martyrdom. Those who are unsure of an afterlife are more inclined, according to the theory, to keep the peace, and try to get the most out of this life without risking loss of life or limb.

It's an interesting theory and, on the surface, I'm almost tempted to agree with it. If religion were truly the only "ism" to arouse such fanaticism and evil, then this would explain everything and offer a simple answer. Unfortunately, to make the theory work, it would have to be expanded to every other "ism" as well: Communism, Fascism, Imperialism, Protectionism, Expansionism, Nationalism, Patriotism, and the list goes on. People have been, and always will be, able to get worked up into war fever over any and all sorts of ideologies and beliefs.

So, for the sake of security, let's say we do expand the theory to all "ism"s. We ban the teaching of anything to believe in. No more war, but in how many other ways would this cripple us? Without anything to believe in, what would humans be? Sure, there'd be no motivation for evil, but what would motivate us to create all that's good in the world?

Better to stick with our beliefs, but beware of fanaticism and be tolerant of the beliefs of those around us. And on that note, I wish you all a Happy X-Kwanzakah.

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