martedì 5 marzo 2013

Religions: Vehicle of peace and solidarity

Most recognize that religion is natural to man, from the distant primeval times.

Primitive man in fact felt surrounded by a hostile nature: thunders and lightnings, fires, torrential rains, floods, earthquakes, were attributed to a supernatural entity rather irascible, which, however, he entrusted for protection, feeling a twig with respect to adverse natural environment, to the point of attempting benevolence with offerings consisting of animal sacrifices, sometimes human, in special places called "temples".

Religion also was, and still is, driven by a need, quite human, of justice, which resulted, as well as in the present, in the hope of a supernatural life, in which earthly suffering could find a fair compensation.

This attitude of subordination to the supernatural was widespread, since ancient times, and in all the inhabited world: from the Hittites to the Egyptians, the Indians of America, and equally widespread was the practice of propitiatory sacrifices.

Emerged spontaneously from human aggregates some figures of saints and sorcerers who were consulted for their apparent wisdom, talent that they showed had been transposed by divine inspiration, to induce petitioners to follow their directions, though absurd. In this way were born religious rites, rich in symbolic gestures designed to implore victory in tribal clashes or cures to enhance the effectiveness of rudimentary treatment.

In many religions there are one or more gods, almost always anthropomorphic, at the top of the supernatural world, which are essential to give strength to the commandments given by the king, who often made believe to come from a divine origin. A swagger that has been perpetuated by the pharaohs to the present time.

And has in fact to be remembered that at the time of Japan's surrende,r at the end of World War II, was placed by the defeated country only one condition: that would be saved the prerogatives of the emperor, who- by his own free will- renounced the secular overt divine offspring. Moreover, even the Savoy monarchy asserted itself, in the proclamation and promulgation of laws, as ruler by the grace of God and the will of the nation, thus putting the divine favor before the popular will.

Religion has ultimately been used for thousands of years as an effective tool of government and discipline of the people. It was also used as cement among the masses to build the identity of a tribe or a people and to conduct wars waged by migration needs but supported by religious hatred, which postulated the annihilation of the different, the infidels, the unbelievers . Wars involving the sacrifice of countless fighters, however confident of finding a reward in a happy afterlife, promised with both hands by the priests who followed the armies in war, to take up morale.

Even today, however, and unfortunately, are recurring episodes of religious intolerance - including those of most media coverage: in Europe (the Balkans), Asia (Pakistan) and Africa (Nigeria) - that materialize in bombings and massacres at the expense of ethnic minorities, whose religious beliefs are different from those of the majority.

The fact remains that recent studies estimate 90% of the world population is believing in the supernatural. A fact that leads us to reflect on the importance of religion in the conditioning of human behavior, both for the individual and for the whole nations.

So if Religions have proven to be powerful agents of division and enmity in the development of human history, it may also become, if faithfully performed, an instrument of peace and cohesion.

In this sense, the Roman pontiffs have worked in recent decades, facilitating meetings between representatives of the most important of the various religions, in particular of the Christian, the Jewish and Muslim, the three monotheistic religions that believe in one God, that is, the same for all.

The use of religion to foster peace among peoples is perhaps the most effective way to get closer to the desired result, although more laborious.It is not a question of simply listening to the conversation, enlightened and conciliatory, of the most illustrious representatives of the various religious faiths, speeches that hardly scratch the minds of listeners, even benevolent.

It is about to start, between peoples, initiatives of solidarity with the poor people, who could be promoted jointly by the priests of the three religions, who in their daily work of charity can promote the worship of the supernatural as a source of love and mutual respect on the practical solidarity and cultural promotion, and also encourage the 'independence of spirit.

The Assisi meetings represent a preparatory phase for the profession of the principles and directives on the paths that lead to reconciliation, but should be followed by agreements on religious beliefs. What does "agreements on religious beliefs" mean?

Often you hear from the chief priests and other religious figures a distinction between believers and non-believers, believers are trooped in the followers of religion, non-believers are atheists, relatives of the devil, a ranking that in relatively modern times is implied, but it was explicit until a few decades ago. Refer to two classes of people: believers and non-believers, means that there are at least some aspects of religion that might not be believed, certainly for good reason, without thinking that whoever does not believe is prey for the devil or weak mind.

These would be matters, the religious ones, which for some appear credible and some have reasonable grounds for not believing. But the divine revelations, contained in the holy scriptures, are credible or not? How do we resolve the doubt among the non-believers? Or conversely how do you convince the believers of the fallacy of their faith? Is it by chance a problem of palate? As for those who like raw fish and those who don't? Does not seem to be so, because it is not a question, her, of a reaction of the sense of taste, which can vary from one to another being. It is a question of whether or not there are certain realities that divide the minds, forming the class of believers and of skeptics.

It is a question of offering to the human kind demonstration of these realities and their relationship with the everyday life of the human being, factors that could be verified by all. An example of substance in the story is given us by some ancient peoples believed in the Sun god. All perceived this reality, touched by hand, you can say, that the sun was the only source of life, and that without the sun there would be no life.

The limited culture of the past gave the Sun a supernatural character, that of a god in mind, which sowed panic at the thought that went out to punish the wicked. Modern culture tells us that the sun is not a god, but one of the many stars of the infinite Universe, who gives us light and heat as a result of nuclear reactions, that man is able to emulate even today on our planet.

It could be argued - by those who have an unshakeable faith in the supernatural - that behind the Sun there is a god who has turned to light and heat the naked Adam and Eve, in order to enable them to start the human race. But so far what science has not given us any updated knowledge.

Thus we see that the progress of culture allows us to unravel the mysteries of nature, once attributed to supernatural entities, and then to change the primordial beliefs, yet sustainable in era in which they had developed.

Otherwise we would be in the position of Galileo,who - arguing that the Earth be part of a heliocentric system - contradicted with great personal risk the sacred scriptures claiming instead the system be geocentric, as it was on Earth, that had happened various divine manifastations,origin of religions, thereby attributing to it a privileged position in the Universe.

Galileo had, at the kind invitation of Pope Urban VIII, recant his belief tha, but concluded to himself with the famous phrase, yet it moves!, intending to refer to the motion of the Earth around the Sun contrary to the beliefs of the time that instead imposed being the Earth fixed and the Sun going around, as indeed it was in appearances. And it is said kind invitation due to the exceptional Pope respect for the person of the scientist, in an era in which religious intolerance had sacrificed many lives, created lay martyrs, people who deserved statues in the squares, but not holiness.

It 's time so that there be a tendency to abolish the categories of believers and non-believers, classifying the members of these two antithetical categories in interested in the religious matters and in not interested: for example you are interested in astrophysics and others on the contrary are non- concerned: it would be absurd to speak, in the latter discipline, of believers and non-believers.

It 's time also that be assigned to the various religions equal dignity, being all a different expressionof the same human need of the supernatural. Everyone be living his faith, without trying to impose it on others, but without excluding the dialogue that celebrates the sacred in common, and that makes marginal the traditions and rituals that appear to be in contrast.

For example, the sacred scriptures existing in three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) may constitute the theological glue to draw, thanks to the common origin of the forefather Abraham, the reason for active reconcilation, and to converge towards a common vision of the supernatural , which would constitute the source for a joint development of solidarity toward the man, a harbinger of greater distributive justice, strong support for peace among peoples.

Centers for cultural, spiritual and material promotion, distribution of supplies, training the rational cultivation of the land and the sustainable development, authentic missions were driven by a core consisting of the nucleus by an imam, a rabbi and a monk, and flanked by technical mining multi-religious centers would be sowers of peace highly effective in the world, beyond the religious rites which, if not translated into daily practice of neighbor love , could appear plastered in observance of their respective traditions.

Which traditions - like everything that is human - should instead be periodically revised in the light of cultural evolution, which at times can clarify some of those mysteries that appeared as such, some thousands of years ago, both to the drafters of the codes of conduct drawn from alleged divine revelation, that to the historians of the great prophets.

To be immediate, a great work ,of peace and solidarity between peoples, may be promoted by the three monotheistic religions from a place sacred to all, where they have been living together since centuries. The place is Jerusalem, the work of peace,between the local religious authorities,is to attain to a common vision for the possible settlement of the conflict that for decades is opposing the Israelis to the Palestinians. This vision - generated from education to everyday practices of human solidarity, a sentiment that is already alive in the youth of the two ethnic groups - may lead the parties to an agreement of mutual dissatisfaction, but that the agreed that the agreed work of the religious would convert in an agreement of mutual acceptance, when the spirit of solidarity finally will prevail over conflicting political issues, related to ancient historical traditions of both peoples. A utopian vision?

In a recent homily, Pope Benedict XVI said that peace is a gift from God. Never as in this case it would be possible to confirm that in the future, that thanks to the work of agreed Lord's laborers in Jerusalem, it was possible to overcome hatred and distrust which had hindered the achievement of peace in Palestine. Had been so answered - by this way - the prayers to the shared God by the faithful Jews, Muslims and Christians who live there.

Besides, it must be admitted that, inversely, peace is not natural to man as it is religion, with the result that when in absebce of enlightened leaders, man is led to follow - like the rest of the animal kingdom a law of nature, namely, the law of the strongest, effectively paintedby a Latin aphorism: "homo homini lupus".

As an example of solidarity for the immediate future, would it be desirable in Italian schools, at the hour of religion, the teaching of the history of religions that, instead of stopping the teaching to the themes of the Christian religion, convert that time in a lesson of religious culture across the world, being the religion inescapable part of the human being, and therefore also of general interest for the Muslim pupil and for the Jewish, for the Hindu and Shinto, for the animist and for the Buddhist, the most immigrants who feel entitled not to listen to a lecture that is confined to the Christian catechesis, alien to their respective beliefs.

It would be a first step in creating an understanding between believers of different religions, that would cease to be, the one and the other, exclusive custodians of truth, converging their commitment to human solidarity, a feeling common to many religions, leaving of course, to each of believers, the freedom to deepen the study of his own religion in specialized schools.

Is perhaps a utopian vision to be able to gradually realize in the future that awaits us, a collaboration interreligious, giving less importance to the unchanging traditional rites, and turning our own eyes to the needs of man, acting unanimously on a practical level to promote peace and to help reduce economic imbalances in the world, and that with the use of the word and work, and (why not?) with the help of prayer, all factors that are supported by high capacity to direct their faithful, who is common to all religious leaders?

It will also be utopian, this vision, but it is supported by the faith of those who believe that it is positive to be confident, looking forwards. =


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