Thursday, March 8, 2012

Do Unto Others

You don't hear much about it now, but for years the Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland, that is the nationalists and the unionists, were at each other's throat. Although the conflict was tinged with politics, the battle lines were largely drawn according to religious affiliation.

Even here in the United States, denominations of Christianity do not always see eye to eye. In 1960, that discord prompted a very Catholic JFK to deliver a speech that distanced himself from the Papacy in order to win the hearts and minds of Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Baptists, Snake Handlers and the 100 other sects of Protestantism.

In the Middle East, as Americans are now discovering, there is a millineum-old rift between the Sunnis of Islam and the Shiites of Islam. This conflict often erupts in full blown wars, mosque bombings and yearly stampedes at the Hajj pilgrimage. The only thing that unites the Sunnis and Shiites is their mutual hatred of Sufis, Druze, and Ibadi, and other the smaller sects that are apparently, 'not Islam enough'.

And of course they all hate the Jews.

Of course, we Jews are not exempt from this theologic illogic. Just two months ago a group of Hasedim in Israel spat on and cursed an 8-year old girl, and harassed her for "dressing like a whore."

If you see an 8-year old girl and your thoughts turn to paid sexual intercourse, I would suggest the problem is more in your head and less than her choice of school attire.

Religion as a whole leaves me baffled. It is devoid of any reason or scientific proof. But inter-religious fighting, well that's even more absurd. Particularly when the differences between sects are so picayune.

It's as if you and I were to believe in the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. We not only believe in this fantasy, we have taken the story as the guiding principle for our journey through life. We believe in the evil queen and her abiding vanity. We believe in the eternal innocence of Snow White. We even genuflect at the same magic transmorphic mirror.

Our shared belief in the Snow White tale is so fevered we are willing to collectively let it cloud our thinking on politics, morality, sexuality, even the way we raise our children.

However, one seemingly-minor point separates us.

You choose to call the fourth dwarf Sleepy and I, because of something some old goatherder said 800 years ago, choose to call him Drowsy.

Therefore, I must kill you.


Jeff said...

We're in advertising. The fourth dwarf is Greedy.

Anonymous said...

That. And the mezuzah turning inward rather than outward.