Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Isis Extremism: The Pagan Perspective

Disclaimer: Before I begin, I'd like to state that I am aware that writing about this topic may leave me in a large pool of angry sharks. I am aware of any personal persecution that may swim around me after I discuss such a raw topic, but this major current event in religion is eating at me to write about it. I am not here to say that one religious group is better than the other--I have full respect for all spiritual paths--I am abiding to being a "professional" writer, so to speak, and I will be leaving out any personal opinions and bias I may discover I have as I talk to you tonight.

I'm not a historian. I was never a straight A student in history classes during high school. Never. I must say I am highly turned off by political science as an interest, therefore I will not babble about all the political chaos surrounding the Isis occurrences.

Fellow readers, if you haven't heard about the current events in Iraq, go to your Google page and search "Isis" and feel free to educate yourself about the political problems this has been causing. I'm sure many of you have heard it all. The rumored be-headings, the slaughters, the executions, the threats, and terrifying stories of people being stranded on a mountain due to Islamic threats towards any non-Muslim faith, mainly targeting Christianity and Judaism. Again, please let me say this: I personally have nothing against the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish beliefs. In fact, I am a very open-minded person when it comes to spiritual practice. No religious group is the "bad guy" from the Isis situation. No one is the "bad guy!"  Are we clear?

I know the Pagan community is hardly involved in the extremism acts going on lately, but being human gives me (and everyone else) the blessing to express an idea they feel would benefit the world in regards to such problems.Tonight I feel very inspired to bring up the moral issues that religion itself can invoke in the world. Yes, religion causes problems. Believe me. It has happened throughout the ages. Religious force to convert to another religion is one major element. Violence over the intolerance of another religious group is the next main element. Religious intolerance, ridicule, and judgment persecuted me against people I knew would not accept my Pagan faith, but I beat the odds. This is the only personal experience I will mention in the article. But, I'm hoping everyone involved in the Isis scenario can let up and find a healing resolution soon. From everything I've observed through the media, I will combine my thoughts in different sections, a.k.a "reasons" why this religious predicament (and all the other ones!) causes worldwide problems. Then, I will ponder ways religious problems in society can be solved or at least tolerated by more people. I'll draw it up into a fancy conclusion to end this heated topic peacefully.

Reasons Why Religion Causes Worldwide Problems 

Reason 1: Misunderstandings and Misconceptions 
This has got to be the most common reason why religious issues fuels more misery everywhere. For example, let's look at the Christian community versus the Pagan community. The Christians believe that Pagans practice Satanism. Many Christians are misunderstood and jump to conclusions and say that Pagans are indeed devil-worshipers. In reality, many Christians do not know that we Pagans do not believe in the existence of a Satan-like entity. Popular misleads tend to collapse roofs on every person's house. We're all human. We are allowed to misunderstand and believe in opposing things about a faith we don't prefer to practice. Violence and bullying occur, and that's where humanity goes wrong.

Reason 2: Biased Opinions 
When an individual gains understanding of an unfamiliar religion, they are presented with the facts of what that group values and believes in. While this does present them with the proper information to have a good understanding, biased opinions don't automatically leave their thoughts. Think about it. When someone is raised to follow a specific religious tradition, they are raised upon those values and beliefs that group practices. When this individual is introduced to a whole new set of spiritual beliefs and moral values, they may tend to flinch out and fall back on what they were raised to practice. That isn't necessarily a horrible thing. We all follow the values that were installed in us as children. Sometimes, we are faced with situations where we must get to know someone else who comes from a totally opposing set of values. This is where fire gets played with. People will refuse to back down from their ways, leaving them with a closed-mind to appreciate another person's spiritual teachings they may have to offer. Biased opinions spread quickly. These opinions cling among groups to "fight" against another religious group that doesn't hold the same core beliefs.

Reason 3: Lack of Critical Thinking/Observation 
When dealing with an unfamiliar religious belief, it's easy to skip the attempt to properly analyze why that group feels justified in believing what they practice. This can lead to immediate conflict. Critical thinking and observation is critical (get what I did there?) to being able to sort out logical thinking from basing a new territory of learning on how one feels about that topic. Utilizing critical thinking when learning about a different religion is important because it offers practical reasoning behind that religion's philosophy. Most people bail out from doing this, leaving the world prone to harsh spiritual conflicts.

Potential Solutions 
Unfortunately, the world is an utterly confusing and sometimes scary place. Many people wish for the world to obtain global peace in all areas of life, but with all the chaotic situations emerging that will probably not allow worldly peace to fully satisfy every problem. Too many humans roam this Earth, along with problems that arise from the brink of humanity itself. There is some light in this darkness. Humanity does have the opportunity to try to reduce some of these problems with religious conflict. Talking calmly is the first solution. Providing proper evidence for why no religion is the ultimate "bad guy" is the next step. All religions were bound to our human hearts' with love. Love is the ultimate goal to remember in every religion. When things blow out of proportion, crisis arises. That is when violence, murder, rape, and other tragedies occur. We must remember that Love is the main preacher in life. It is the core of religious belief. Talking, providing logic, and remembering the name of Love are the core solutions to taming religious violence.  

Every faith has something beautiful to offer. Violence does not.