The downing last week of a Russian passenger jetliner over Sinai, the suicide bombings two days ago in Beirut, and the attacks in Paris yesterday inside packed theater, stadium, and restaurant, reinforces the idea that humanity is threatened by a reemergence of barbarism in its ugliest form. How could human beings be so cruel and not think of the sanctity of life bestowed on us by a just and loving Creator? How could they believe that they are mandated by God to force others in believing and acting in a specific manner? All I can say it is absolute spiritual ignorance! No true religion would sanction such a behavior. On the contrary, a true religion would be based on love, respect, and freedom of expression. Religions are means of spiritual enlightenment and liberation from the confines of materialism. Clearly, some human beings are so far distant from true spirituality and think nothing of the vast orphan children, widows, widowers, and grieving parents that they are leaving behind and the lives that they are turning upside-down, all because they happen to think and worship their Creator in a different way!
Many years ago, in the early to mid 1990’s, I wrote an essay on Violence and I believe that it is even more pertinent at this time and age than the day I wrote it. Here it is:
Where is the Thinking? Where is the Conscience? An Appeal to Humanity.
Many claim that man is superior to the other creatures roaming this Earth because of his ability to think. I have recently lost my belief in this claim. How can a man of what is almost the twenty-first century be considered superior when he is capable of taking the lives of twenty-nine people in Hebron in cold blood in the name of religion? Where is the thinking? Where is the conscience? What hurts more than anything else is that the victims were gunned down while praying to the same God worshipped by the assailant, and in the same city where the remains of Abraham, the father of all, are buried.
This tragedy is only one of thousands that have taken place in this century, and almost every one was committed in the name of religion. The massacres of Jews in Hebron in the 1920’s, the Der Yassin massacre, the Sabra and Chatila massacres are reminders that man does not always think. We cannot call the people who commit such atrocities “animals,” because that would be a great injustice to the animals of this world.
Where is the thinking? Where is the conscience? Just think of the magnitude of this last tragedy. Children are now deprived of one of the most meaningful experiences in life – the love and support of a father. What about the widows? How will they financially support their children? What about the parents? How does it feel to raise a child, only to see that child die violently?
When will it end? Ten people killed in a bomb blast at a church in Lebanon, fifty sprayed with machine-gun fire at a mosque in Hebron, sixty-five people blown to bits at a market in Bosnia – these are the headlines we see regularly, not to mention the events themselves shown on television worldwide. How many more such incidents can we expect?
If you are contemplating revenge, please stop and think for a minute. Violence will only lead to more violence. Even if you are able to get your revenge this time, the next time someone may get even with you. Besides, do you truly believe that God’s cause is served when innocent people are killed? Think of the orphans, widows, and grieving parents you will leave behind.
I often wonder what has happened to the human conscience. Did it die or become inactive? During the turmoil that swept India after Pakistan was declared an independent state, a Hindu asked Mahatma Gandhi if anything could be done to ease the Hindu’s conscience for killing a Muslim boy by mistake. Gandhi told him to adopt an orphaned Muslim boy and raise him as one of his own, with one exception: He must raise him as a Muslim, not as a Hindu.
If humanity is to survive, we must learn to fight religious hatred with tolerance and respect. No religion has an exclusive claim to the truth. Several paths lead to God. We should always remember this; otherwise, may God help us all.
Note: Since the day I wrote this essay a number of atrocities were committed all over the world. For the sake of fairness, I would like to mention the bombs that exploded on passenger buses in Israel, the car bomb that exploded in Saudi Arabia, and the Oklahoma City Bombing. My heart bleeds for the victims and their loved ones left behind. Some people critiqued this essay by saying it has left behind many un-mentioned atrocities. They are absolutely correct in their assessment. However, they have failed to recognize that this essay was written as a response to something that moved me. Call it a whim or a mood, or a snap-shot of my feeling at a certain time and space. It would be a mistake to keep on revising the essay to make it up-to-date and inclusive of all acts of violence. This is not to say that I have not been moved when other atrocities are committed.
4 thoughts on “Has Conscience Died?”
Dear Mr. Murad,
I couldn’t agree with you more. The violence and hatred of the world has gotten to a point of unprecedented global ugliness. The confusion, the pain, the fear, the hopelessness, and the destructive ways that humanity as a whole has been treating itself only makes matters worse. It infects our political systems, our economies, our medias, our nations, our communities and homes. Even our religions. It is my belief that people’s behavior will only change when beliefs and perceptions change. As it states in a book called Conversations with God: “no behavior is inappropriate given it’s current model of the world.” So maybe the only way for evil to vanish off the face of the earth is for all people to realize that no matter what we do, Love is all there really is. Now if God is Love and Love is all there really is, than God Himself is all there really is. If people begin to believe that separation from God and each other is just an illusion, that really We Are All One, than how could we believe in a God who punishes, destroys, condemns, and hates Itself. We than only reduce the Almighty to a barbaric mythic being who is more human than we are. Maybe if we examine these outdated notions of religion, we start to see that essentially what they were trying to say partially is that we are each other. What we do for another we literally do for our Self. If we see God in each other and everything, with that belief, how than would we be compelled to treat each other.
This of course might sound blasphemous to most religious people, but didn’t every great truth given to us by the Prophets sound blasphemous to the people of their time?
God bless the victims of these atrocities.
It is a major misconception that God punishes the souls! God created a just and divine justice system for the physical world that administers a proper, just, and measured punishment or reward for choices made by every Soul. This is like saying “take this road and it will lead you to a sharp bend. If you go straight, you’ll go over a cliff and be hurt, while if you navigate the bend, you’ll reach your destination.” In this example, going over the cliff–despite the warning–is strictly a choice and the fault of the road builder. Such is the case with any decision that we make. Do we steal money to buy things we desire, or do we work hard to earn it? Do we help a person in need or do we ignore him/her? Life is all about choices, and choices in the absence of others are not meaningful. In other words, if you are living in isolation on an island where you are not interacting with others, can you be evil or good? If there are no circumstances that would require you to choose between good and evil, then you are wasting your life. It is only through choice that we elevate or degrade our spiritual level. It is only at the point where we rid our souls from all evil that we reach perfection and merge with the Creating Force. Just remember that most religions are thousands of years old and what we have is a very basic understanding of our reality–now look who is blasphemous!
Yes, may God bless the victims of all atrocities and every soul that longs for doing good.
Dear Mr. Murad,
I hope I didn’t sound offensive when I posted my last comment. If I did I sincerely appologize. The intended meaning of the words I said was meant to acknowledge the fact that due to increasing spiritual blindness to how God really operates and is essentially present within each of the world’ faiths which can be found and discovered by those who sincerely search for it. The discovery includes the fact that we are all God’s children, all one in each other and all of creation because we come from the same Spirit, or Creative Source (God). Everyone knows Him differently, including atheists, though incomplete. And yes I agree that all the things that happen to us in life are nobody’s fault but our own. Even though suffering happens as a result of a past life, It doesn’t mean that its all bad either. There still hope as our souls continually create ourselves into the image of God. God in His mercy gives us eternity to reach Him. Yet misguided people of all of the worlds religions have sought to distorte the teachings of God through His Prophets to promote their own evil devices. But when that happens God sends us another Prophet to clarify once more and Reveal the truth. And because people of their time rejected them because they considered the Prophet’s message blasphemous, they either stoned, banish, tortured, crucified, or waged war with them. The end was always the same. The destruction of their old world and the building of a new one by the rejected Prophet. His was the victory because it was God’s. They brought us Love, Peace, Glory, Unity, and Truth, but often times their people never wanted it. It’s the very same thing that happened to Lebanon because it refected Dr. Dahesh.
Like I said, I appologize for any misunderstanding that I might have caused.
No apologies are needed here! You did nothing that warrants an apology. This is a free-for-all platform that encourages personal opinion. The only two requirements are: having an open mind, and respect to the views of others even though they may differ from yours. Nothing that you said was offensive in any way. Actually, it should be I that should apologize to you for misunderstanding what you were saying in your first comment. Your second comment is excellent and I am in total agreement with it. Please feel free to express yourself in comments or posts. If you have something to say, I am sure that there are readers that may like to hear it.
Best of wishes,
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