The best of all organized religions is the message that nurtures life and encourages kind and just behaviour. You can word the message a thousand ways, turn it into a religion - or not - but it is with our actions toward each other, and toward the animals, and toward the earth, that we can make a positive contribution to life and to society.
In all civilizations, fanaticism and superstition and greed and hatred lead to destruction and the suffering of the innocent. The actions of a relatively few fanatics cast an ugly shadow over entire societies, leading to alienation, atrocities and to bloody death.
Our fearful over reaction to terrorists gives them ammunition to brain wash the weak, the ignorant, the lonely, mentally defective individuals and those hungry for power - little people who need to follow a leader - even an insane leader - like Hitler, Pol Pot, or Idi Amin.
Who suffers most of all from the crimes of extremist Islamists? Muslim people. Because we, who are not Muslim, cannot judge who may be a danger to us. And so people are suspicious and some even hostile to Muslim people and they justify their prejudice by pointing to the crimes of the lunatics.
The fanatics are hurting their own people most of all. I often meet Muslim people and speak very openly with them and it is clear that they are suffering because of the actions of the fundamentalists and the lunatics. Some react with explosive hatred toward Canada.
One Muslim taxi driver I met recently spewed hatred toward non-Muslims, particularly Jews and Israel - during the whole trip as he drove me home. I was relieved to get out of his taxi. Others just keep to their own communities, living in a self-imposed ghetto state.
Most of the Muslims I meet express delight - even exuberant joy - at what I have to say. They thank me for being so open to them.
Muslim people in Canada have families, children. They are often hard working people who want to live and let live. If some of their practices offend us, we need to encourage them to turn away from superstition and harmful traditions, but this cannot come about by shutting them out and alienating good people because of our fears. If they feel welcome, if they are accepted as our neighbours, if they see how much better our way of life can be, they are more likely to turn away from the limitations and oppressive ways of the past. Sometimes we, who are not Muslim, can accomplish a great deal by just talking with a Muslim person openly and honestly, without fear, without accusations, without venom, one human being to another.
"If you prick us, do we not bleed?"
Religion is a man-made invention developed through the centuries in our search for understanding of our universe and the meaning of life. Over time, people develop different strategies. Religion and science are twins - both are methods we use to try to understand why we exist. Those who heard "voices" and wrote the texts, never saw the galaxies or the atom.
The truth is really simple if we put aside myths, fairy tales, indoctrination, politics, and deliberate lies. It is truly simple if only people would use the minds with which we are endowed by whoever created us -
DO UNTO OTHERS -
AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.
Live and let live.
Do not make excuses for evil.
Speak the truth,
No matter what anyone else does.