Faith Column: The battles we fight
Religion is not the cause of all the world’s problems
My step-grandmother tells me that religion is the cause of all the world’s problems.
While the naive side of me wants to disagree completely, I can’t deny that it has done, and continues to do, its fair share of damage. Realistically, problems of hate and prejudice stem from all sorts of places, many of which are not faith based, but religion definitely makes the list.
In the month of November, I can’t help but think about war. I know war isn’t a topic that most people in Canada dwell on very often, but I think it has a lot to teach us.
The other reason I’ve been thinking about war these days is because I was sick last month and spent an entire Saturday watching a M*A*S*H marathon on the History Channel. For those who don’t frequently watch 70’s reruns, M*A*S*H is a show that follows the lives of doctors and their support staff stationed in Korea during the Korean war. In one of the episodes I watched, a new doctor joins the team from the United States. On the way from the airport to the unit, everything that can go wrong does, and this new doctor is hurriedly made aware of the tragedy of the war.
As this new doctor is bent over at the waist, throwing up in the grass at the sight of so many people injured and dying, the doctor escorting him back tells him that this isn’t even the worst of it: the worst part is that you get used to it.
To think that such a horrifying scene becomes daily reality for those at war for years on end is heartbreaking. I know there are more people out there that would agree with my step-grandmother and say that God is to blame for all of this suffering, but I’d disagree.
From where I stand, God’s heart breaks even more than ours every time people suffer and die.
It seems that in a lot of cases, violence stems from people who take things to the extreme. Where 95 per cent of a religion interprets their religious text as a call to love others and bring peace, 5 per cent take it to mean they need to eradicate the problem of everyone who thinks differently than they do.
I learned something fascinating earlier this year about the Islam concept of Jihad. In modern media, Jihad (or “holy war”) has come to mean suicide bombings and the killing of many non-Muslims. However, this is an interpretation taken by an infinitesimal amount of Muslims. Holy war, as it is most commonly understood, is the war that goes on inside of each of us every day as we fight against our own evil thoughts and desires. The hardest fight we face is the choice to do good or do evil in every situation we are put in on a daily basis.
Jihad gets me thinking about all the times that I have harmed others by reckless choices I’ve made, or insensitive words I have spoken. How often do I start wars by slandering another person? Probably more times than I’d ever like to admit.
No wonder Muslims pray five times a day! It feels like an almost impossible battle to win. Maybe we should all learn from Islam and examine ourselves five times a day. Did I say something that caused pain for another individual? Did I bring healing to someone by a kind word or deed?
In many ways, we are all fighting the same battles every day. What can you do to make someone’s fight a little easier?