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Can a Cry for Peace Ever be Louder than a Call to Arms?

We see so much injustice in the world every day. There is so much hate, discrimination, crime and war. People who are different aren't seen as equal or as possessing equal rights. Even the United States, a nation founded on the cornerstones of freedom and equality, still has a long way to go on achieving either one.

Years ago, I had a friend who became a skinhead. Out of complete disgust and confusion, I asked him:

What are you going to do, just kill everyone who doesn't agree with you?
Yes, he answered.

That simple, yet chilling conversation sums up so much of what is wrong in our world today. People feel as though they can't reconcile their differences with others, and resort to killing instead. In the United States, we see hate crimes and terrorist attacks. Abroad, we see the same, as well as a world torn by war after war.

If we ever hope to build a better world for everyone, we as human beings need to find our common threads of humanity that transcend race, gender, culture and religion. We need to come together as a human race and unite in love and commonality to end war and suffering worldwide.

Why is there so much racism towards Muslims?

This is something that I have seen both in my home country of the United States, but also here in Germany where I am living. Racism in any form is something that deeply saddens me, and I think that we all need to do better on having acceptance of other immigrant cultures.

However, people who hold this view towards Muslims here in Germany tell me that the racism here comes from the idea that Muslims want to keep their own religion and culture, keep to themselves, and don't want to integrate into German society; they want to make Germans fit to their worldview instead.

There is a stereotype of a Muslim as a terrorist, but it runs deeper than that.

I have been told that one reason Muslims have difficulty integrating into Western society because of their beliefs about the place of women, which can incite violence towards women in the places that they come to.

As Syrian refugees flooded into Germany, there were increased incidents of domestic violence among the refugee population.

In Germany, some say that especially Muslim boys have been violent towards female teachers here. In the beginning, it can start out with ignoring their school lessons and lectures, in other cases things have gotten far more violent.

According to The Daily Mail,

An 11-year-old school pupil in Germany threatened to behead his teacher in a chilling echo of last month's terror attack in France - a week after saying he approved of the Paris atrocity.
The boy made the violent threat in response to his teacher's warning that there would be consequences if parents failed to attend a meeting with teachers.
The pupil, who is Muslim, had previously said after a minute's silence for French school teacher Samuel Paty that 'you're allowed to kill someone who insults the Prophet, that's OK'.

Is there something within the Islamic faith itself that makes some Muslims think that inciting violence in the name of their religion is justified? When some think of the idea of jihad, the Muslim holy war, you would perhaps say that the answer is yes. Muslims think that their religion is the only 'right' religion, and they want to convert everyone else.

Throughout history, Christians have thought the same thing. Look all the way back to the Crusades, and the ongoing wars for Jerusalem throughout history. There is a clash between Christian and Muslim ideals that has been going on for centuries.

After the 9/11 attacks, I thought, this is an opportunity for change. This is an opportunity for the US to see why so much of the world hates us. Now in 2023, the US has been part of a war in the Middle East for nearly 20 years in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. It makes me question that we have learned anything at all. It seems like hatred has only grown stronger.

Is it Religion that is creating the problem?

After seeing it argued that the way Muslims treat their women is the problem, I look at Christians in America and think that they don't treat their women much better. Sure, things have advanced somewhat since women can show their faces uncovered and attend school, there is still violence toward women that is asserted through the Christian church.

According to MDPI, an Australian research study shows that,

Violence in relationships is a common experience for a significant number of women. VicHealth (Australia) has noted that one of the underlying and contributing factors towards violence against women is their environment, citing ‘faith-based institutions’ such as churches as one such environment for many women. Indeed, international research shows that the language of religion is often used by women to explain abuse. Additionally, abused Christian women are more likely to remain in or return to unsafe relationships, citing religious beliefs to support avoidance of ‘family break-ups’ despite abuse.

In addition to the increased instance of spousal abuse, there are instances of rape within the church itself that are highly troubling. Everyone knows about the scandal that has run rampant about Catholic Priests abusing young boys.

New information has also come to light in recent years about sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Church in the United States as well.

According to Vox,

Complaints about sexual abuse and sexual assault on the part of pastors were sent to higher-ups who then kept those accusations quiet. Though the report, by Guidepost Solutions, was only commissioned to study the cover-up from the years 2000 on, it found incidents of sexual abuse and warnings of the same going back to the 1960s. In all, Guidepost found accusations leveled against people at all levels: church volunteers, staff, and leadership, including those at the top of the church’s ladder. Those accusations were made by people of different ages and genders, and they include allegations of child sexual abuse, the grooming of adolescents, and the sexual assault of adults.

All this begs the question as to whether violence against women really is a religious problem in the type of societies where men are in control. You can see the same things happening within devout Christian society that happen in a devout Muslim society.

Religion has historically been used for the subjugation of women through the religious power structure. This has been the case for millennia, with women in some countries still being sold into marriage by their fathers. Without equality for women in society, how can we hope to achieve equality between differing societies and cultures?

Perhaps, having a religious worldview causes people to otherize to excess, because they believe that only their own religion is correct, and everyone else is going to hell. Religion drives a divide between people based on gender, culture, race and country of origin. So, wherever religious people end up, they are bringing these divisive views with them.

Those of us who are non-religious, or subscribe to more egalitarian religions, constantly are standing on the sidelines and watching in disbelief as Christians, Jews and Muslims fight constant wars on the basis of religion throughout the Middle East.

Although Israel has become more secular over the years, their deeply ingrained history of religion has become infused into their cultural identity, and you can still see the war being fought between Israel and Palestine over the Gaza strip.

If you have read Bible prophecy at all, one of the signs of the Apocalypse is 3 years of peace in Israel. Since that prophecy was written more than 2000 years ago, this has yet to happen. The Middle East has been constantly wracked with war for all this time. All because of religion.

Could a secular society be more accepting?

If religion really is the cause of so many of the ills of the world, then would creating a secular society be better? The United States tried that, when it wrote the separation of Church and State into its constitution. Yet, if you see the fusion today between the Republican party and Evangelical Christianity, you will realize that the idea of a secular government has failed in the United States.

Although there are many people today who have a more secular, liberal worldview, they are seemingly not in the majority at this time. In the United States, between 21-29% of people identify as non-religious. In more liberal Germany, it is 41%.

If we stripped religious zealotry away from society, would we be able to create a better society, where we could have an end to wars abroad, and an end to senseless discrimination and violence at home?

At their inception, all religions had the goal of helping us to be better and more moral people. They attempt to explain the unexplainable, both here on Earth, as well as in the afterlife. People cling to religion because they are unsure what happens to us after death. But with time, what someone believes or doesn't believe has become more important than treating everyone with kindness.

People hate and fear anything that is different from themselves. And when it comes to religion, these differences become amplified.

The problem is more than racism

The problem has to do with vastly different worldviews that have become entrenched, through religion, even in societies that have become more secularized. This includes institutionalized racism, male privilege, and hate for the LGBTQ+ community.

Even as people become less zealously religious, we still have a history of traditions within our culture that originally came from the religions that shaped nations as they were forming. We cling to these archaic beliefs and ways of doing things, even when we have forgotten the reason for our traditions.

As humans, we want to preserve our cultural heritage.

But, how much of that heritage is inherently damaging towards creating a modern society that truly gives freedom and equality to all people?

Should we be 'allowed' in the west to continue hating Muslims, gays and women just because that's what our parents did? Or, now that we know better, is the onus on us to do better?

We keep repeating history until we learn from it. When it comes to science and technology, our society has advanced exponentially in the last 200 years. However, when it comes to more humanitarian concerns, we have advanced so very little. Our hearts, and our capacity for compassion for our fellow man haven't advanced at the same rate that our technology has made our world smaller, and people who are different from ourselves closer in proximity than ever.

In the beginning of this article, I started off by asking why we treat Muslim immigrants so badly. However, this issue is neither clear-cut or straightforward. It is symptomatic of much different and much deeper problems that aren't being addressed within society.

When east meets west, there is a cultural divide. Do we each need to individually heal our own cultures before we can heal the rifts that stand in-between cultures? How do those of us who believe in a better and more inclusive world strive to create that?

Can love, kindness and peace ever win? Or are the things that divide people from each other on an ideological level too great?

Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi both showed that peaceful protest can work. Protests and sit-in's in the 1960's achieved quite a great deal for the civil rights movement in the United States. But still, even though integration was achieved for black citizens, there are attitudes of prejudice that remain.

With every movement that has gained traction in the past where peaceful protest brought about change, it has taken generations for the change to integrate itself fully into society. In some ways, I wonder if the scars of the past will always remain, or if we can work peacefully today to create a better tomorrow.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~Romans 12:21

How can a religion that taught us thusly have become such a source of persecution worldwide? They were good ideas in the beginning, but they have become overshadowed and corrupted by a political agenda. I wonder, if they were alive today, would Jesus or Muhammed even recognize the religions that sprang up from their teachings? Or would they turn away in disgust at what has been done in their names?

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