The day after the terrorist attack on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001 was a day of reflection. I thought about the Memorial Mass at St, Julie Church last night and the theme of that liturgy; Genesis 4: 3-11 "The blood of your brother cries out to me from the soil".
The horrible suicidal act could only be committed by a group of religious fanatics. It it hard for us to envision anyone so fanatical that they would do anything so vicious. But how does one become such a person.
We are all, to some degree fanatics! In its mildest form we are sports FANS (fanatics), movie FANS, etc., and we readily admit to that. It is when we, as an individual, or as a group, have the belief that our team or movie or performer is superior to all others that we turn from being a "fan" to a fanatic. There are some people like this. There are also political fanatics. We have all met people with whom you can not hold a polite conversation on the subject of politics. There are right to life supporters and the dangerous ones, right to life fanatics. There are people who are fanatical about their right to dominate the highway. We meet them often.
But, RELIGIOUS Fanatics are the most dangerous! And, who are they? They claim to have a god who only talks to them. They have a way of giving homage to their god that is the only right way to do it correctly.
I am a Christian and a Catholic. I believe that There is one God who created this universe and everything in it. And I believe that everything He created was good. I was born into the Catholic faith and for many years had my doubts. I now find that faith to be good for me. It is my faith. But there have been fanatical Christians and Catholics. We can go back to times of the Crusades which trampled not only innocent people but other Christians who did not exactly agree with the Church of Rome. We can go back to the Inquisition which was a vicious destroyer of people who did not agree with the views of the powers in charge. There are other examples. However, Christianity, although fragmented, survives. But even in modern Christianity the thing that fragments us is the fanatical belief of each sect that only it is correct.
Amazingly, if we look at the basic teachings of any major religion, be it Western, Eastern, or Middle Eastern, we find the same thing. Every one of them is based on the belief in, and the love of God, regardless what we call him or how we visualize Him. All of the religions teach "Love your neighbor" and the care of fellow man. So, where do we go wrong?
We make petty rules about how we should worship, and in some cases how we should dress, eat and more. Then we get wrapped up in these rules which become, for us, more important then the basic truths upon which the religion was founded. Then, anyone who does not agree with our flavor of belief in God is considered totally wrong because we are the only one doing it right. Any Catholic who believes that only Catholics can get to Heaven is a fanatic! Any Christian who believes that you can not hold evolution to be true is a fanatic. Some of us get all wrapped up in what we think a church should look like. Any person who says you must accept their way of practicing religion is a fanatic.
When a Religious fanatic becomes a political fanatic you have a real problem. In their eyes, they must convert everyone to worship their way. It is God's will! If the unbeliever can not be persuaded, they may as well die, since they are dead to God anyway. Sounds like the Spanish conquering the Americas doesn't it? They called it salvation.
I do not know how to solve the problem instantly. I do know that each of us must strive to live the words of The Dalai Lama:
"We need to see other people like ourselves - not as opponents or aliens. We need constant communication, meeting, dialogue for deeper understanding of each other's religion. Then you can develop genuine respect, genuine harmony. And from that genuine brotherhood will develop."
Each one of us must plant this seed and by our example, the world can change. If we refuse to do it we are as bad as the fanatics we are trying to stop. God created all of us as brothers. Let's start there.
"The blood of your brother cries out to me from the soil"
Genesis 4: 3-11