[chinese blood, irish heart] - DEFUNCT: Clash of Cultures?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Clash of Cultures?

This week's ATV Newsline is about whether there's a "clash of cultures" between Islam and Christianity.
Guests are Alaudeen Alaskary, the consul general of Saudi Arabia and Father Jim Mulroney.
This topic comes of course when Pope Benedict apparently quoted Islam as "evil and inhuman" from a 14th century Byzantine emperor.
Transcribing this episode was politically volatile since I didn't want to make any errors that would alter any of the guests' wordings.
I even had to call up the second-in-command of the Saudi Arabian consulate to help me translate something the consul general said. It turned out the phrase meant "Muhammad, peace and prayer be upon him..." I initially was just going to leave it as Muhammed, but thought it'd be prudent to wait. But as usual no-one gives a shit about my accuracy.
It was funny when the consul general seemed offended by Mulroney's comments about Islam being irrational - he apoligetically rephrased his comments.
Michael even had the nerve to ask Mulroney if he "hated Islam." Why the hell was he thinking?
It'd be even more ridiculous if he asked the consul general if he hated Christianity. But that wouldn't be normal would it, for everyone seems to be sympathetic to the plight of Islam, while Christianity seems like the opressor. Yeah, the Crusades is ancient history, get over it - both of you groups.
The concluding discussion was more interesting though. Father Mulroney touched upon the political uses of religion to further alterior agendas by governments and leaders. That is so very true. Look at the past plight of Northern Ireland. People always ask me about the whole Catholic and Protestant conflict... it's the least to do with religion. It was all about socio-economic issues and about which group got the better jobs. Religion was just something at face value.
Alaskary also preached about Islam being a peaceful religion. And it is. Mulroney also adds that we in the West have little comprehension as to what Islam really means. It's just some people are using that as a basis for violence and terrorism. Religion again, is just an excuse for legitimacy.
Wouldn't it be great if the everybody on Earth just renounced their religion.
Would there be world peace? No.
Would the world descend into chaos? Also no.
But what it would do is tear down a major barrier that polarises the world. Everyone would be free of their respective dogmatic, stereotypical and draconian values. This doesn't necessarily mean that moral fabric of society will fail, or that we become lifeless, materialistic consumers. I challenge that. This will gives us the freedom to live life through conceptualism and rationalism.
I mean, what has religion did for this world? Other than be the root cause of wars in past history? How does it really affect the day-to-day process of life on this Earth? We use up time to go to church, to pray, to fast, to sing hymns, to confess, to judge, to go on pilgrimage... and for what? That we hope our souls will go to heaven or get those lucky 72 virgins?
Is it wrong to be an atheist? I bet there are millions out there who belong to a religion but don't practice it. But at least I'm open about calling myself atheist. Or whatever you want to label me: godless, infidel, heathen, heretic, pagan, unbeliever, evil...
But here's what you can also call me: free-thinker, revisionist, indivdualistic, rationalist, conceptual, humanist, moralist, post-modernist...
I'm in no position to deny the existence of God or other dieties, I just want no part of it. But unfortunately with the politics of religion these days, it's hard not to get entangled. Shit, even Hugo Chavez launched some religious spiel at Bush calling him the devil at the UN General Assembly, followed by a quick prayer. You see, there they go with the religious rhetoric.