Friday, December 18, 2015

Non-violence and Religion

The Islamic claim to being a ‘religion of peace’  seems outright a bald faced lie. However like Communism , the idea is that ‘if you let us rule, we will provide world peace’.  This is a tyrants promise.  Like the Mexican standoff, one asks oneself if it is right to lay down one’s arms first.  In the Nuclear Disarmament agreements there was always the chant of ‘lay down arms first’ but this chant is usually the voice of the enemy.  Mutual disarmament and mutual retreat from violence as anyone who has been there knows isn’t a matter of one side laying down arms as an example to the other side but rather a mutual process of combined withdrawal from the precipitous of mutually destructive violence.
In the East the Jains were perhaps the first to promote non violence to all creatures.  Not just ‘peace’ but true non violence.  Vardhamana Jnatraputra (597-527), son of a Kshatriyas chieftain renounced all war and all violence. Jains even concerned themselves with stepping on insects and blades of grass.
I found it interesting that the famous Christian missionary physician Albert Schweitzer struggled with the idea of going to the violent of continent of Africa because he himself was focused on peace and non violence and couldn’t see how this would be possible in Africa. He was walking on a path when he realized because of the modern study of microbiology afforded by microscopes than no breath or step could occur without death of life.  With this realization he was then freed to go to Africa to serve.
The Jains had retreated from society in the efforts to achieve purity of non violence but the Buddha following in this idea encouraged disciples to participate in society but to the best of their ability be non violent.  Hence warriors could be buddhist and indeed the great emperor Ashoka who struggled most with the idea of non violence and violence in civilization had Buddhist and Jain teaching but concluded that the very instrument of civilization, warfare, must in turn maintain the peace. It was recognized that without so called leisure class there could not be research, science, study and advancement, all the benefits of civilization and so Ashoka concluded that for their to be civilization there would be war but war would maintain the peace otherwise there would be anarchy.  Experiments in anarchy time and again lead to gang warfare and chaos and internecine killing.  It was with these reflections in mind that the Beattles famous for John and Yoko Lennon’s song, Give Peace a Chance were equally famous for their song “We don’t want a revolution”. That said, it’s difficult for all who make it to the top of these hierarchies to renounce the profit and reward of what is usually effort and war, actual or symbolic.  Carnegie gave his wealth to libraries the world over and increasingly there’s an ‘altruism’ among the wealthy today. But unfortunately so much of this public behaviour is later realized today to be done to avoid taxation and to gain even greater profit through influence.
Later Christian Quakers and Mennonites would eschew war but it would seem the Jains were not only the first major non violent sect but ones who did it with true gusto.
I have yet to find the Muslim equivalents, not that I don’t expect to find them, their being Suffi’s for enlightenment but it still seems a bit far fetched to call this religion the ‘religion of peace’.  It would be as spurious to call Russia, China or the US nations of peace.  Unfortunately especially for the stupid and the devolving idiocy of modern media, peace and war are not so much as opposites but indeed very much entwined.
Now the Muslims I know personally, and I’ve honoured to be friends of many, are themselves very peaceful educated sophisticated lovely people. However they are like me physicians or academics, middle class folk, not part of the upper 1 or 2 % of society that rules. They are further not in a Muslim country, Canada quite notorious for it’s homeland peacefulness and general politeness.  I have argued that politeness is greatest among the thoroughly subjugated so Canadians good manners may reflect more the extent to which they have been beaten down and lied to.
Since the first violence of the state is the elite and the rest the question of whether a religion is ‘peaceful’ is secondary to it’s initial value to the leadership who adopt it.  As Christianity and Islam are today the most competitive religions with Atheist Communism in third place perhaps the elite who have imposed violence and subjugation on the many, for good or evil, or expediency, must see in these three competing religions support for their regimes. It goes without saying that any state, government, monarchy can only have a religion that supports the population in general being punished and contained.
All three religions, Christianity, Islam, and Atheist Communism have ‘world dominion’ designs.  So none is ‘inherently peaceful’.  Each has allowed violence to be done to the population within and each in various ways has an expansionist theology.
This needs to be looked at further as it’s most unlikely that President Obama, Prime Minister Trudeau, Communist China’s Central Committee, Putin or the House of Said are today or any time soon likely to embrace the most peaceful of religions, Jainism, Quaker, or Mennonite Christianity.  I don’t even think they’re about to dance with the Suffis though a good dance is always better than a good fight.  

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