Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"God save me from my gods!"

If I had to guess, I guess I would guess that everyone's god is more wise, compassionate, just, far-seeing and benevolent than everyone else's, and yet if there is one thing that puts the fear of god into me, it is anyone's assertion that "we are doing god's will."

The gun-toting destruction of shrines in Timbuktu, Mali, is an example of the extremes that Muslim sharia law can be willing to exercise. Other god-fearing folk may cringe at the fiery narrowness on exhibit there. So narrow is the view, in fact, that others may mentally pat themselves on the back: "I (or my god) would never condone such viciousness."

Well, I hope it's true, but my skeptic-o-meter remains set at the highest levels for those who claim to be doing "god's will:" What is kindness and light today is invariably shadowed by a potential blood bath tomorrow. Sharia or some other, I suspect it is pretty much the same. "Doing god's will" (or doing the will of some estimable philosophy) is simply and ornate front for a brocaded and anointed "me."

It's not that this me-god is not capable of great acts of kindness. It is. Rather it is the unwillingness or inability of the belief system that elevates this god to reflect and investigate its own responsibilities as a matter of course. Such a built-in reflection -- one demanded by the belief system itself -- is extremely rare and the result is that where the hymns are sung and the accolades for god arise, a herd mentality sets in and what was once religion becomes a lynch mob ... even when the mob is not bearing AK-47's.

I do not mention this so much as a matter of activism or well-heeled social whining, but rather because I think that although individuals are unlikely to find a way to end socially-engendered lynch-mob religious potentials, I do think they can exercise their own eagle eyes within.

Gautama Buddha was once said to have observed, "It is not what others do and do not do that is my concern. It is what I do and do not do -- that is my concern."

And that's one way of putting it.

Another way is:

"God save me from my gods!"

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