Thought Leaders Series: 2018
Religion recognises a metaphysical dimension, as such, human challenges are often explained employing the concept of causes and effects, largely, as agency of either God or Satan.
In fact in earlier development of Judaism we see both good and evil coming from God, and Satan or the devil acting as an enforcer on behalf of God. One prophet even describes a council headed by God which includes the active participation of Satan, in the shape of a ‘lying spirit’.
The result of activities in this realm often manifests on earth as either ‘blessings’ or ‘curses’, hence, the emphasis on appeasing activities like prayer, sacrifice, abstinence, fasting, etc.
These activities are meant to avert natural disasters like earthquakes, famine, drought; and non-natural phenomena like wars etc.
Simply put, if an earthquake occurs, or, if crops do not yield a bountiful harvest, then God must be angry. Little wonder why it is so easy to justify doctrines like tithing, as an hedge against these risks and uncertainties – almost like an insurance policy with God.
That aside, religion can often conjure doctrines to justify unethical behaviours like alienation, discrimination, slavery (both Christianity and Islam were heavily involved in this activity in Africa), racism, inequality, and brutality; but it will be against the spirit of humanism to think, let alone act in such ways towards a fellow human.
For the humanist, the focus is on doing good and living well in the here and now, and leaving a legacy in the world for those who come after.
Consequently, change and progress can only occur by intentional actions. Through moral vision. By hard-work, perseverance, patience, education, unlearning toxic ideas, reasoning, organising, collective action, and constant review of our actions and progress.
In the words of Writer, Poet, and Theologian, Thomas Merton:
The world will not survive religion based on tribal consciousness. It will destroy the world. But if those who arrive at what is truest from their own tradition, which transcends their own tradition, they recognize each other. And if they would speak up, religious people could be a source for world unity and world peace.
We can not outsource these responsibilities to external agency, there is too much at stake. Let us put our hands to the plough for today and a better future.
Healingsprings fellowship: Human Capital Development
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