By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam
30 June 2022
What Makes Humans So Violent And Sanguinary? The Answer Is: Because Of Their Beliefs, Esp. Religious Beliefs In All Irrational Things And Phenomena
1. What happened in Udaipur (Rajasthan) has shocked the whole 'civilised' world.
2. Because of this collective belief in god and religion, humans have been killing each other since time immemorial.
3. Man can never be completely emancipated from all his beliefs.
" So long as our meaningless beliefs remain
All efforts to get rid of them will go in vain "
-William Butler Yeats, Irish poet and Nobel laureate
What happened in Udaipur (Rajasthan) has shocked the whole 'civilised' world. Now people with a modicum of sanity are asking: What makes humans so violent and sanguinary? The answer is: Because of their beliefs, esp. religious beliefs in all irrational things and phenomena. An interesting story will help you understand this whole business of belief/s.
A very religious-minded old lady was dissatisfied with all existing religions, so she founded one of her own. A reporter, who genuinely wanted to understand her point of view, said to her, " Do you really believe, as people say you do, that no one will go to heaven except you and your housemaid? " The old lady pondered the question carefully and said, " Well, I'm not so sure of Mary."
However advanced, liberal and forward-looking one may be, the inveterate prejudices will always beckon him back. What we create as something altogether new and different has the distinct elements of our past beliefs. There's no relief from belief. Neurologists are of the view that if a person wants to relinquish all his beliefs at the age of 25, it will take nearly 200 years to completely get rid of those beliefs he/she wanted to part with, though there could be exceptions. It means most of us will never be able to get rid of our unwanted beliefs and prejudices in our lifetime because no one has that much longevity. And this neurological observation is quite incisive.
We talk about equality, egalitarianism, anti-capitalism, Marxism and what not but how many of us will allow our maids and domestic help to use our restrooms or sit cheek by jowl? The ingrained prejudice that they're servants and can never come up to our level and status will always be there in some corner of our collective mindset. In my life, I've come across so-called non-believers and atheists and I've seen many of them take umbrage when something not so complimentary was said about their 'erstwhile' faiths. I call them fashionable atheists.
Dropping all beliefs ostensibly, yet sticking to some of them deep down is the tragedy of mankind. Beliefs engender stereotypes and we all have stereotyped opinions about people, objects, races, countries and communities. Even those who call themselves 'global citizens', like Socrates, are racially, regionally, linguistically and nationally prejudiced.
Man can travel to space. He can reach the moon, Mars and other far-flung planets but he can never be completely emancipated from all his beliefs. And when the beliefs have a religious ring to them, it's just impossible for anyone to discard them completely. They remain in your consciousness to pop out at an unguarded moment. At least a remnant of them will remain to remind him of his limitations.
Because of this collective belief in god and religion, humans have been killing each other since time immemorial. I still remember somewhere I read, " Beliefs are hard bricks, the building of human nature is built of." I've no doubt about the profundity of this statement. The beheading of a tailor has only made my belief in beliefs even stronger! Today, I'm terribly sad and not very hopeful of mankind's evolution.
A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian.
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