Tag Archives: Religious intolerance

Paris: Some Clarification

It seems as though my last piece has upset some and confused others and so I would like to try and put the record straight on the message I was trying to put across.

First and foremost I must state unequivocally that I am not for one moment advocating that we laugh at ANY religion. Far from it, as I argue in my book, religious belief is fundamentally necessary to us as a species and essential to help us cope with the challenges Life throws at us with monotonous regularity!

We are all different and as such need different beliefs to meet our own particular makeup, hence the wide variety of beliefs today. Unfortunately these well-meaning beliefs are subsequently distorted and abused to provide a power base and this has been the case for millennia.

Each belief has argued it is the ONLY TRUE belief and all others are ‘sinners’. If this were remotely true, with each religion giving the same message, then it is obvious that we are ALL sinners and ALL destined for hell! Hence the satire they have generated and which they have ALL endured with good grace. Only the radicals have reacted, sometimes in the grossest fashion because their own shallow power bases are easily threatened.

The major religions today became powerful by persecuting the other beliefs until the most powerful came out on top. The cost in human life and misery of these religious power struggles over thousands of years is a tragedy of monumental proportions and a permanent blot upon our history as a species.

As we have evolved we have come to recognise these abuses and that there may be more than one way of gaining religious succour. The internet is certainly making us more aware of both our sameness and differences and through this we are making great strides in global religious tolerance. A true accolade to our contribution to this evolutionary process.

However the old ways die hard and today we see the traditional abuses of religious belief being perpetrated, yet again, in a blind lust for power. Today however it is not applied by a myriad of religious labels but simply by one . . . Terrorism! These radicals are not working with the full blessing of their religious institutions, indeed they are being castigated by them and the genuine followers of those beliefs.

Here we get to the heart of what I was writing about. I do not seek to laugh and humiliate the religious beliefs that are so important to all of us. Instead I seek to isolate and humiliate terrorism. It is not a religious belief but an abuse of genuine religious belief. The manner in which it is being operated is to intentionally strike ’terror’ into the world at large in order to bring Society to its knees and take power.

As I read comments on Twitter over the last few days I am aware of people subduing their usually forthright voices or dropping out of conversations on the subject. That is fine but we must be aware that this bully boy tactic is beginning to rob us of our hard won freedoms, as fear takes over and we become frightened to speak our minds or walk freely in our streets with our families and friends.

Not only that but the current agenda is seeking to take us back to distorted values that would have women become no more than goods and chattels, as they were only a few hundred years ago. I don’t know about you but I for one could not rest easy with this. Women have a massive amount to offer and have been suppressed from playing their part in Society for too long now.

Crunch time is fast arriving as our security services now openly admit that they are struggling to maintain a safe environment in which to live our lives, as these groups gain some successes and attract more young naïve recruits as future bomb fodder. Hiding within Society these groups are able to carry out their atrocities, making the task no longer one for the security forces but for Society as a whole.

We have to stand up in unison and demonstrate to these groups that we will not be intimidated for much longer. They must be isolated from the religions they declare they represent and leaders and true followers must join with everyone else, as they are now doing, to put a stop to the spreading cancer they are now inflicting upon Society.

It is here that I am advocating laughter as a powerful tool with which to defend ourselves and discredit the distorted values these groups operate under. By standing up and using the humour of cartoonists, as was so effectively achieved by Steve West in the Guardian last week, I believe we can break its sinister image and growing hold over us . . . but it will take a united global Society to do this.

We are in unprecedented times and this could represent the catalyst with which to re-empower the 99% in manner none of us has previously contemplated, bringing a sense of pride back into Society that has been knocked out of us by the 1% over the last few decades. What have we possibly got to lose?!

May I also suggest that, in the light of what I have written here, you go back and reread my previous post (See ‘recent posts’ on the right here) and the powerful message to terrorists the original cartoon by Steve West gave out. Hopefully you will see these messages in a different and more caring light.

 

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to The 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

 

Paris: Humour is the most constructive form of criticism J T Coombes

Charlie Hebdo

I remember the Irish comedian Dave Allen in the late 60’s and early 70’s with his hugely successful comedy series The Dave Allen Show. He touched a nerve in people with his deep irreverence for political power but most famously his taunts at the Catholic Church.

No stone was left unturned as he lampooned the ritual and pomp. His frank material earned the show a risqué reputation on such occasions as when he depicted himself as the Pope and his cardinals doing a striptease to music. Other sketches again depicted the (sometimes extreme) realities of day to day church life, with priests beating their parishioners and each other, Dalek sounding priests in confessionals and the Pope with many exaggerated Italian accents, telling Allen in a Chico Marx style to “getta your bum outta Roma”.

Allen was no fool and his inner wisdom and balance meant he was able to laugh at himself as acutely as his mickey taking of others and their organisations. He lost the top of his left forefinger above the middle knuckle after catching it in a machine cog. This provided him with a vast amount of humorous material which found its way into his act.

He joked on one occasion of it being worn away by strong drink, as he regularly dunked it in the whisky glass that was a permanent feature of his act. On another occasion he told a long and convoluted ghost story that concluded with something “evil” attacking him in a dark and haunted house. Allen retaliated by grabbing and biting the attacker, only to find, when the lights came back on that he was biting his own left hand!

What his humour was able to do, as all good humour should, is to make us aware of the need to closely examine beliefs we may well have outgrown and that are no longer fulfilling the purpose they once did. With Allen he was able to demonstrate that we had evolved as a Society and as our religious beliefs were not prepared to evolve with us they were becoming less meaningful.

Throughout this period the Catholic Church never overreacted and I for one, although not a Catholic, respected them for taking it all ‘on the chin’. If only they had taken on board what was happening they may have been able to staunch the steady flow of followers from their churches since.

There is no doubt that the present shallow financial values used to measure our happiness and life are proving useless in offering strength and reassurance as we face the growing pressures of globalisation and financialisation of life on this beautiful planet. We need the spiritual part of us to receive sustenance and the myriad of religious beliefs that abound are evidence to this.

We are all different and are reassured in ways that most suit us. A Jew would not sit comfortably with Sufism, nor a Christian with Shamanism etc. We find what works for us and what we are most comfortable with. It cannot be forced upon us and no one belief is the ‘Only Right Belief’ above all others.

Globalisation is forcing these very beliefs, which have been used over the millennia to keep us apart, to now work together, with a growing recognition that they all have their part to play.

The atrocity that occurred in Paris yesterday demonstrates a blinding immaturity and lust for power that has haunted us for thousands of years. Like Dave Allen, Charlie Hebdo was pointing a humorous finger that should cause questions, not violence, demonstrating yet again how mighty the pen is over the sword!

Those who caused these young men to waste their lives uselessly lack the wisdom to realise that they will never achieve what they crave because they are alienating the people, not motivating them to rise up. Who in their right mind would want to follow and support such callous behaviour? It’s a ‘no brainer’

As the tributes flow from all races, colours, creeds and genders, united in a global repugnance of what has occurred, I sense us leaving the old behind as we venture into our new Global Village. It somehow seems apposite therefore, to sign off with the same words used by Dave Allen at the end of his shows:

“Thank you, goodnight and may your God go with you”

 

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to The 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes