Invoking God while fighting religious extremists
So I'm at my daughter's Remembrance Day assembly and the principal is making several nice points about how we are observing this day to honour the people who died fighting for our freedom and wouldn't it be nice if we all could fight less. Good stuff. Then Mrs. X [I'll withhold the name on the off chance that someone from the school sees this] gets up and gives us an emotional talk about her brother-in-law who was the killed in Afghanistan. She talks about her five-year-old son who told her that she shouldn't be sad about Uncle X because he's in heaven getting his wings and when he looks up in the sky and sees the brightest star he knows it's Uncle X looking down on him. Then she says "Who would have thought a five-year-old could be so wise."
My thought was "Who would have thought a five-year-old could sound so much like a paranoid schizophrenic."
I was a little miffed that my daughter was hearing all this garbage coming out of the mouth of one of her public school teachers, but it was her personal opinion so whatever.
Then the show goes on, which is mostly music by the school band and the choir. But the choir sings not one but two songs with conspicuous mentions of God.
I left feeling rather depressed about the state of our discourse, even here in fairly secular Ontario. First of all, the kids aren't even told why our soldiers are over there. Saying that they are protecting our freedom is a lie: the Taliban is not equipped to come over here and overthrow our government, so it isn't about our freedom. What the Taliban can do is fund and train Islamist extremists to come over here and terrorize us with suicide attacks. So the real reason we are in Afghanistan is to root out a band of extreme religious fundamentalists who have gained too much power and now pose a threat to the whole world.
Good for us. But we can't say that, because tying our fight to religious extremism might offend our our religious people here at home. Again we see that protecting and shielding the basic idea of religion and Islam from any criticism is the most important goal of discourse, trumping even the need to explain to ourselves what we are doing over there. So we proceed with some half-baked, weak sounding rhetoric imported from the Second World War. Is it any wonder that people are starting to oppose the effort?
What a perfect example of religious moderates providing cover for extremists. Canadians, religiously moderate people if there ever were any, have to pretend that we're in Afghanistan for a myriad of off-the-mark reasons in order to avoid the suggestion that there might be something wrong with too much religious belief. Instead, every one of our public figures should be standing up in front of cameras to declare loudly and clearly that we are in Afghanistan fighting fundamentalists who have chosen only to accurately apply the actual instructions contained in their religious texts. And moderate church leaders should be lined up at the microphone to denounce the practices of the Taliban and make the strong point that application of a thousand-year-old system of morality and justice is not going to work in the modern world. But they remain silent, except when someone tries to blame Islam for the nuttiness of the Taliban.
So we are left invoking God at Remembrance Day ceremonies commemorating soldiers killed fighting against excessive belief in God.
Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown