Saturday, June 22, 2002

The Imperfect Human

After talking with my old roomie and good friend, who just happens to be a Knight of Columbus, of the Catholic Church, I’ve decided to retract my comments about religion being the cause of so much pain and destruction throughout history.

Humans in general are to be blamed. We are fundamentally flawed. That is our nature and our curse. Even the most well intentioned person or group will make mistakes. The pieces of history, which I must admit I’m not an expert on, I used, as examples were not flawed by religion, though it certainly had a hand in the situation.

Religion itself is a construct of the human mind. Its pure ideology is intended for good. However there have been many individuals throughout history who have tainted the image of religion through their own selfish and unethical actions.

Charisma is a wonderful and evil trait at the same time. Used for good it can produce a great leader who will be able to make the world better for those who follow that person. Unfortunately, used for evil it’s can just as easily create a great leader who will be able to create a great deal of damage and hate in those who follow that person.

The abuse of power is nothing new, but when used with religion it becomes worse…evil. Bill Clinton used his power to talk Monica Lewinsky into giving him a blowjob. A poor use of power? Certainly. Was it evil? Everyone has his or her own ideas of evil, but I’d say no. Now take the Catholic Priests who have been accused of raping alter boys. A man of God, a man with a great deal of power, especially to the faithful and especially to these young boys. This is more than an abuse of power. This is just evil and wrong. There is no way to get around that.

There are other examples all through history, but there is one right now that the entire world has to deal with. A charismatic leader who is using religion as his shield and recruiting tool, when in fact his reasons have very little to do with religion. Perhaps once they did, but power often corrupts those who wield it. Why do you think we have term-limits for our political leaders?

In case you haven’t figured out whom I’m referring to yet, it’s Osama bin Laden. Here is a man whom was upset for his father letting the U.S., infidels in his eyes, occupy places he felt were sacred and holy. These were places that non-believers should not be walking. Fast forward after he is kicked out of Saudi Arabia. He teams up with the Afghani people in their struggle against the Soviet Union and learns battle tactics from the U.S. CIA. Had the U.S. helped rebuild Afghanistan at the end of the war with the Soviets, then perhaps bin Laden’s displeasure with the American infidels would have been quelled. Unfortunately, the U.S. walked on out and left the country to fend for itself. Flash forward a few more years. During the battles with the Soviets, bin Laden gained respect and leadership with the Afghani people. He was a charismatic person and he held strong to the Muslim faith. When the Taliban came around, he fit in naturally with their scheme.

All this time bin Laden’s displeasure with the U.S. grew into hatred. But when he started his evil terrorist plots he lost his footing on religion. Though he claims what he is doing is justified by the Koran. Twisting the words with his own ideas. This in itself is not unusual. Christians and Jews do the same things. Likely every religion that has had a text has had people twisting its words to justify something that is obviously wrong. Muslim religious scholars have rejected bin Laden’s interpretations many times over. Unfortunately many people are sheep and he is a big bad wolf. He prays on their ignorance and desire to belong, to fit in.

The things he prays on are the very same traits that cult leaders, regardless of religion or belief, look for. They are hunting for the weak minded. Those who cannot think about spirituality for themselves, or simply do not wish to. David Koresh successfully led his group into a fiery oblivion through his charisma.

The problem isn’t with charisma. Without it there would be no leaders. The problem is that there are too many blind sheep. Everyone in his or her lives is a sheep at some point or another. Many have their opportunities to be a wolf too. The trick is to find a balance. People just need to educate themselves more.

I myself fell into sheep mode when I wrote what I did yesterday. I had seen what bin Laden has done with religion, twisted it into an evil sword of destruction. I hear about the Catholic Church and I consider what has happened in its history. But the fact I seemed to forget was that these things, evil and good were all done by people. Imperfect people. I became blinded by my own frustration with the nature of the human race and found a scape-goat. I apologize to those who I may have offended.

I certainly hope the human race can make it with our strong flaws. If we don’t we’ll be doomed to become simply another pre-historic age for our future predecessors.

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