"Men ought not to play God before they learn to be men, and after they learn to be men they will not play God" -- Paul Ramsey
People are being murdered everywhere... not just in Paris, but every single day, in the name of religion... in the name of God. I've read posts condemning the killings in Paris and others questioning why there was not so much indignation about the killings in Baghdad and Beirut. And all of it has led me to question, when one kills in the name of religion, is it about religion at all? When a Hindu kills a Muslim, does that really have anything to do with God?
When one community says my way of life, or my God is better than yours, it's not about God at all. It's about one person or a group of people saying we are better than you. It is not about faith, it's about establishing your superiority as a community. And then, how are these attacks in the name of religion any different from, say, the Nazi killings? Or a White man killing a Black man? It's not. It's me deciding that I am better than you -- period. That may be because of my skin colour, my race or because I go to a mosque instead of a church. And when this happens, the entire community suffers. Even when they don't subscribe to the sentiments or policies of extremists, they get judged on that basis.
You are not God -- you do not get to decide who I should worship... [or] whether my being brown, black, male, female, gay, straight makes me superior or inferior.
I was in Europe not so long ago, and I travelled to various places. But I didn't really feel anyone treating me differently or badly because of my brown skin. But I wonder if that would be the case if I visited now. Probably not. I'd be discriminated against because of how I look. And you can be sure I would complain. About how unfair it is to label me when I have nothing to do with what happened in Paris. About how I'm from India but am still being looked upon with suspicion, because they are all fools. But in my head I would know, that it's only expected that they would see me as the enemy. I know this, because every time there is a killing in my country, every time a Muslim kills a Hindu, everyone claims that Muslims are the problem. And the same happens when some idiot kills a Muslim over his choice of meat. Suddenly, Hindus are collectively blamed.
For thousands of years now people have been persecuted in the name of religion. There was a time when Christians slaughtered all those they believed were heretics - today, Islamist extremists are doing the same. But as is always the case, the only people who suffer deep and lasting wounds are the innocents. In our country, people who have nothing to do with making policies are happy to celebrate Diwali, Christmas and Eid with equal fervour. But in times like these I wonder, will that last much longer?
So, what is the solution? Will this mindless killing ever end? No it won't. Not until we realise that religion when followed as a means of faith is liberating. Festivities surrounding them are meant to spread joy. But when you use religion to define yourself as being better than your neighbour, it only leads to pain and destruction. And this vicious cycle will at some point consume each and every one of us, however much we try to shield ourselves against it.
It's on us to teach our next generation that to believe in God is fine, but to play God yourself is not. You are not God -- you do not get to decide who I should worship or not, you don't get to decide whether my being brown, black, male, female, gay, straight makes me superior or inferior. And that if you can't do any good for the world that you inhabit, then do nothing. That is better than you ruining everything in the name of God. Because frankly, we have had enough of it....