Saturday, 10 January 2015

Why we cannot let Fundamentalism bow us. I'll Ride With You.

I woke up this morning to read that 2000 men, women and children had been massacred in Nigeria by Boko Haram. Following the week that has just passed it is yet another hideous tragedy that darkens our world. I find it so hard to understand why people who consider themselves men and women of God believe that killing others is part of their religion.

photo courtesy of Huffington

Perhaps they are hiding behind the excuse of religion? I don't believe that any true follower would commit the cowardly and senseless murders we have seen this week. They may believe themselves to be warriors for their faith, but surely this model of faith is a mutation? An abomination.

I sat yesterday watching events unfold in France and ended the day feeling so desperately sad for the people involved. I have read countless articles trying to explain what is happening in the world and why fundamentalists feel the need to intimidate and murder those who disagree with them. There are so many theories, some reasonable, talking about poverty and alienation. Others damn blindly, generalising about an evil threat, conspiracy theories and prophecies of world domination by Islam who they see as some sort of dreadful darkness.

 I don't believe that Islam is evil. True Muslims are good and kind and honorable. As should be those true followers of any of the world religions, be they Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist. Mankind takes the words of sacred texts and twists them for his own devices. This has been the case for thousands of years surely? Mankind acts out of fear of the unknown and uses religion to excuse his acts of brutality.

Perhaps I am naive, but I just wish that people could take a moment to be still and to consider others. We may not all follow the same system of beliefs, but surely that's alright? As long as we try to be kind and tolerant, understanding that we are all different, then surely the world would be a better place? I am not a believer, but I have friends who are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Atheist. Their choice of belief does not offend me. I respect them all. I don't always agree with them, but I respect their right to believe a different truth than mine. Why can the fundamentalists of these faiths not feel the same way? Why do they feel the need to force their views on the world?

In my opinion the basic need of every human being is to love and be loved. No more nor less. If we all treated others with respect, taking each person we meet for who they are individually, then the world would be such a different place.

Perhaps this is easy for me to say, living my middle class life in leafy England. Perhaps the anger and frustration you feel as a young person living in slums, feeling alienated and demonised, pushes people towards hatred and the desire for some sort of justification for their existence? I don't know the answers.

What did touch me this week was the move to extend the hashtag #IllRideWithYou, started after the hostage crisis in Sydney. It began as a way of showing that not everybody equates Islam with terrorism and said "Let's stick together as human beings, be we Muslim, Jew, Christian or Atheist". If only we could stand together, hand in hand with people of all faiths and not judge others because of the actions of a minority.

photo courtesy of

They are a dangerous minority, but their desire is to break society, to turn us against each other, to spread fear. We cannot let this happen. We cannot condemn whole sections of society because of the way they dress, the faith they hold. We are all different and we all have the right to live without fear, to live with respect. Fundamentalists, be they Boko Haram, the Kouachi brothers, Anders Behring Breivik or White Supremacists, are a cancer that threatens society. They use violence because their words are impotent, their views abhorrent.

I realise that my views are probably naive, simplistic and if you are entrenched in your view of "them and us" you will scorn what I say. The world is not a simple place. But if we, the majority, stand together and refuse to be bowed, refuse to turn on one another, then they cannot win. I fear the future, but I will not let my fear turn to hatred or paranoia.


joy said...

Well spoken Sarah, I agree totally with you. If only there was a way that we, as individuals, could teach these people that love is the way forward.I fear that their hatred will cause more hatred, if only we could not let that happen.

Sarah Pellew said...

Exactly, Joy. People live in a whirlwind of hatred, not stopping to think clearly and kindly.I just wanted to post my view. Thank you for commenting and let's hope the world doesn't sink into a pit of hatred and reprisal. x