Get Rid of the Opium

For anyone who is thinking that I am now going to give a lecture on how drugs are ruining our society and how we should take a lesson from Bollywood movies like ‘Udta Punjab’ and drop these ‘bad habits’, let me tell you there are other more dangerous kinds of narcotics that have ruled our minds over the years.

Religion

There is no better way to describe it than the famous German saying – “Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes”. Put in a language that you and I understand – Religion is the opium of the masses! Karl Marx hit the nail on the head when he made this statement and despite knowing this, there are very few of us that have been able to shake this ‘bad habit’ and get out of the clutches of fanaticism.

It is possible that you may think that the word fanatic does not apply to you or that your religion is not fanatic. This is probably because we have come to associate this term with a few specific religion(s). But don’t get too happy and think you are not the main target of this piece that I am writing.

The Problem

Via Flickr/Phil Robinson

The reason I actually yearn for a new world order in the area of religion is because I have seen (as you may too have) people lose their entire sense of rationale when religion is being discussed. This is a phenomenon I have probably observed across the globe.

There are highly educated people who turn into the Mr. Hyde the minute another religion is mentioned or praised. Some sentences that have sent a chill down my spine include:

  • Hindus are infidels who will not achieve heaven on the day of reckoning.
  • These Muslims do not use childbirth so that they can take over the world one day.
  • Children are brainwashed and taught to fight against anyone who is not a Muslim in the madrasas.
  • These Jews are extremely money-minded and stingy. They will go to any ends to achieve what they want.
  • We need to get everyone other than Christians out of our country.

If you were to watch any of the strong religious videos (which I avoid by all means possible) that try and spread their ‘message’, the statements become stronger and more unbearable.

Today, there is no tolerance for conflicting views and people shun those who do not agree with them with closed minds, especially when it comes to religion. This applies to almost all religions across the world and most definitely the prominent ones.

The staunch Hindu has forgotten Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the world is one family. Those who fight in orange robes forget that the basic tenet of this ‘way of life’(not religion) was ‘all accepting’. They believe that their religion is under threat from the proselytizing Catholic priests, Muslim maulvis and jihadis.

The fanatic Muslim only remembers the first tenet of Islam – the Shahadah or Testimony of Faith that is a is a declaration in which one verbally proclaims that Allah is the one and only true God and that Muhammad is God’s messenger. They want to make sure that every other human being also proclaims this Allah is the only true God. The remaining four tenets have been forgotten namely – Salah (prayer), Zakat (Giving), Sawn (Fasting) and Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca).

The overzealous Christian that appears relatively liberal hides centuries of crusades that were initiated and sanctioned by the Church. While some of these were intended to win back the Holy Land from the clutches of Islam, others were fought against paganism and heresy. No doubts these are things of the past but the incessant and continued overzealous attempts to convert people over to Christianity remains a key and strong objective.

The Cause

Interestingly, the understanding of such a phenomenon comes from a recent Bollywood movie dialogue:

“We do not love our God, we fear Him”

And we fear him because the concept of God was created by Man to make sure there was someone ‘out there’ who would protect us and someone who had magical powers to make things right. Obviously, we needed to make sure that we respected this entity. To please this entity and ensure goodwill, we began to do favors and then finally started fearing the wrath over time. This was inevitable since since mothers took to telling their kids that God (and not them) will punish them if they did not behave.

If we truly loved our God and were convinced He loves us, we would not feel the need to prove to anyone how loyal we are towards that God. Not garner favors with Him by making offerings and adding on to His following.

On the contrary, we fear our Gods and are so insecure about our own standing that we try and bribe Him into favoring us – I will give up smoking if my son gets well, I will come to church every Sunday if my business starts to pick up. I often wonder what God gains by ‘your’ giving up smoking or ‘your’ going to church?

Via Flickr/ResoluteSupportMedia

We try and form these large groups so that we can identify ourselves with other people in the same religion to obtain a sense of safety. (The same is the case with nationality, race or economic status but religion is by far the most dangerous). Because we fear something and want to seek safety in numbers.

Historically (or perhaps Mythologically), there were various saints, prophets, son of God, avatars and gurus that came to the world and preached different routes. Each of these propagators of religion created their own marketing goals (salvation, Jannat, heaven, enlightenment, moksha), different marketing strategies (fasting, praying, charity, meditation, karma, knowledge) to create groups of people. Some strategies were more popular than others and therefore ended up with a larger number of followers. Some of these groups broke into smaller groups which then fought between themselves too.

What the propagators failed to realize is that a new theory just created a new group or religion. Even though some tried to ensure that they were never given the status of a God (aka the gurus of Sikhism) they ended up creating another sect of people that believed in the Guru’s way of life.

This is not to say that these propagators intended to create factions that would fight against each other. They did not intend to create homogenous groups of people or claim dominance over the world. It just goes to prove that even these peace-loving, well-intended avatars or prophets or gurus did not have the enlightened vision to see the future!

The Solution

I am sure that an idealist solution that comes to my mind is hardly something that can be executed. But I am convinced that the only way to get to World Peace (and I am not competing for the Miss World title) is to dissolve all religions, remove the pope, mullahs, pandits, sages and whoever preaches in the name of religion.

Instead, create a world order. A way of living that is basic enough to be common to all cultures that is based on humanity. A set of rules (that ideally should be automatically understood since they are rules of humanity and I presume all reading this article are humans) that just defines ‘Being Human’!

A Uniform Code for Humanity!

While I did think I should end the post here, I cannot but indulge a little and think about this world.

“A world where the individual is given the right to live a life they chose (as long as it does not step on others) irrespective of gender, race, nationality, sexual preference, color and of course, religion!”

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