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Opinion | Sep 15, 2017

What Is Religion Doing To The World?

What Is Religion Doing To The World?

The world has been afflicted by various problems ever since its creation. Conflicts have been part of the progress or otherwise of human existence since human beings inhabited this earth; conflicts over land and resources have led to various wars with very devastating effects . Sure, a certain philosopher once said that even though conflicts could be very damaging to development, without some conflicts of some sort, the world would be like a stagnant pool breeding nothing but weeds. But what degrees and forms of conflicts are we talking about?

Civilized societies have used and resorted to conflict resolution mechanisms to deal with these conflicts in modern times. Among them are internationally accepted boundaries in terms of airspace, maritime and land. These are physical spaces that have been assigned to nations and recognized by all. Nations which have disagreements over ownership of any of the areas stated above have made a case before recognized bodies for arbitration. A recent example is the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and the La Cote d'Ivoire.

In times past, the two nations would possibly have been massing their arsenals and would be at each other's throat on land, sea and in the air. Civility and modernity have prescribed a means of solving such problems. One of such outcomes in recent times that comes readily in mind is the old aged Bakasa Peninsula between Nigeria and Cameroun. As soon as the international body which arbitrated on the matter came out with its verdict, Nigeria accepted the decision and let go its claim to that peninsula.

In my opinion, the biggest threat to peace in modern times is religion. Religious conflicts are personal and emotional. They defy reasoning. Over the past decade and more, the world has not known peace in a number of countries for varied reasons. People of a certain religious faith believe that their cultural believes and way of life are being adulterated and polluted by another group of religious adherents. The resistance to this perceived imposition of foreign belief by those who feel threatened by other religious faith, have never been resolved around tables.

In some instances, the conflicts are first clothed in political disagreement by those who feel marginalized politically. As the struggle develops, the differences within the same religious sect take the frontline and the struggle becomes more of religion than politics. The Syrian crisis initially began as a political struggle; today, it has become more of religious differences in the same Islamic religion. The internecine conflict which has drawn powerful nations into it produced one of the most disturbing human tragedy in modern times.

Last year saw one of the most disturbing migrations of fellow human beings from their motherland to seek survival, security and happiness in other lands. It was a human tragedy that attracted the conscience of the world, the weak and the strong, women and children, old and young. They were mostly of the Islamic faith running away from their countries where destruction of human beings and property had made its masterpiece, and human feeling had no place in the minds of the perpetrators of the war.

One strange thing crossed my mind. Though majority of these refugees seeking solace and succour were Muslims, their final destinations for safety and protection, at least at the time, were the nations that are predominantly of the Christian faith. In fact let me state my position on religion before I move forward. I do not belong to any religious faith but I am not also opposed to any religious faith nor their adherents. I have absolute faith in my conscience to guide me in doing what is right and as much as possible, staying away from what is wrong.

I was really amazed by the open doors with which these predominantly Christian nations gave these people of Islamic faith, even though some of their citizens were opposed to the idea of allowing them in because they had unfortunately tagged all of them as terrorists. Indeed one or two countries took a decision not to allow them to use their territory as transit points let alone allowing them into their countries.

The sufferings that the thousands of people went through, innocent children and women who have no idea, perhaps, of the causes of the wars in their countries, were harrowing. Young men and women in school, who had to terminate their studies to flee to safety, not knowing where they were going and what the future holds for them, old men and women suffered the biting chill of the weather, hunger and thirst, improper sanitary facilities, even where they existed, reduced them to sub-human species. These were otherwise noble people, leading their own lives prior to the conflicts.

What gladdened my heart at one stage was the 'order' given by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church, asking the citizens of the Vatican in particular to pick up one refugee at least and show them care and love. It was heart-warming. Just last week, I read a story in the Ghana's Catholic Standard newspaper (Sunday September10-September 16, issue) about a Catholic Priest in the Central African Republic Bishop Juan Jose Aguirre Munoz who had given shelter to 2000 Muslims being persecuted by Christians in that country. Very heart-warming once again. These are cases of human beings empathizing with their fellow human beings in need and not which religious faith they belong.

Sadly, in the cases of predominantly Muslims fleeing from their fellow Muslims in a war situation, I did not hear any of the rich Islamic nations inviting or airlifting their fellow Muslims into their country nor offering them any meaningful support to alleviate their suffering. For weeks on end, these poor people went through serious agonizing conditions. In their frustrations, some even had confrontations with security men of their would-be hosts, further worsening the situation and endangering the conditions of the weak and the feeble.

Since last month, another of what is described as religious based ethnic cleansing has been unleashed on the minority and predominantly Rohingya people in Burma. While the usual terrorist tag has been hanged around their necks, the majority and predominantly Buddhist security forces have burnt about 180 villages of the Muslim Rohingyans, forcing them to flee to Bangladesh. They were shot at indiscriminately by well-armed military and police personnel. Sadly, the Bangladesh government is unwilling to receive them and for which reason they have also beefed up security at their borders.

Almost 400,000 people have fled their homes, many of them having to wade through rivers and lakes some of which are so deep that the people are chest or neck deep in them. Old and weak people are carried across and children too. And as usual, women are the worst affected. It is another case of human tragedy of gargantuan proportions. They live under improvised tents. It is raining at this time in Asia and the Americas. They are hungry and thirsty and most of the children are naked.

Then I ask myself. What are the rich Islamic nations and their leaders doing to their fellow Muslims whose crime, may be, is just being Muslims? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, until Christian based non-governmental organisations go to their aid, their situations will move from bad to worst. What is the Arab world doing to help them and why are the Buddhists targeting the Muslims?

This not to say that the Christian faith is made up of angels and are therefore pure in mind and heart. In Ghana the Pentecostal Churches are responsible for the laziness in mind and in act. Yes, in this age and time, if development is based on miracles, sowing seeds by donating huge sums of monies to Pastors and Reverend Ministers with dubious academic credentials, then the people will not think and work. Many young people in Ghana believe in miracles rather than hard-work, honesty, discipline and sacrifices as the route towards progress. Let us look at religion again in our lives. I am ready for your insults and adjectives though, but in my opinion, religion is doing more harm to our society than good.

Daavi, just give me 3 tots to check my how far.
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From Kwesi Biney

Kwesi Biney
Kwesi Biney, © 2017

This author has authored 76 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: KwesiBiney

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