Clashes of ideologies and attempts to create bridges


We humans have always been afraid of others who are slightly different than ourselves, but also helpful, kind and curious on other groups in order to form new alliances and an understanding for each other. In these modern days of intense turmoil, of conflicts of various sorts it is even more important to remember these general human aspects to at least, hopefully, easen the conflicts, wars, and problems we see in this world. It is true that we as human creatures on this globe also have been warriors, competetive, sly, devious and unjust, ever since the earliest hominids walked the East African soil. Nevertheless, both bonding and bridge-building always also have existed since the very beginning when our human race slowly began to emerge. Try to imagine yourself in the stone-age. Different forms of humans existed, Homo Erectus who emmigrated from Africa millions of years ago, and much later a smaller version of those developed on the tiny island of Flores. Other groups of Homo Erectus developed into Neanderthals in Europe and ruled that part for at least 60 000 years, before they met our ancestors, Homo Sapiens. A small group of our ancestors left East Africa sometime 100 000 – 80 000 years ago into what’s now Yemen and slowly but steadily spread all over the globe. A globe which we now all inhabit. Of course there was foul play, jealousy, male fights about mating the females, rivalry, hate and wars against wild animals to protect our offspring. But also to get food and clothing, fights between different groups and clans, as  well as with the Neanderthals and Homo Floresiensis. The  Swedish scientist Svante Pääbo has in recent years proven through studies of our mitocondrial DNA that all humans from outside Africa: Semites, Caucasians, Asians and Native Americans share a common gene-pool which have been slightly mixed with the Neanderthals, which shows that some interbreeding has existed between the groups. However, co-operation, kindness and affection have also been other surviving techniques for the species, and no man is an island, entire of itself, as John Donne once said in the 17th century. Both Neanderthals and our Stone Age ancestors buried their dead, and seem to have had cermonies for it. This shows that there has been a spiritual awareness and mind already back then.

Over the millennia different beliefs and creeds have developed, both religious and secular ones. I will come to those too further down. The important thing in these days of intensified conflicts is to see our common human value and try to easen the conflicts, try to build bridges between us. Tomorrow I will write about gender hate and love between the sexes, and in a few days more about how positive work, awareness, affection and human respect might be an important road forward for many of us to make the human situation more acceptable.

All around the globe there have been many different belief systems, just as it is today. Shamanism in Siberia and ancient Japan, as well as in the Americas, but also other religions as well. There have been beliefs with different pantheons of gods in Sumer, today’s Iraq, in India, which have developed into Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. The Indian prince Siddharta Gautama had a spiritual awakening, left his family and the palace to find spiritual balance and became Buddha in the 6th century BCE. His followers, the Buddhists and Shinto Buddhists in Japan have found their way. The Chinese philosopher Kon Fu Tse/Confucius also was a wise man which affected the Chinese way of finding structure and balance in life. In Africa there were many different religions, since Africa is the continent where we as species have existed the longest. Also in Oceania there have existed and still exist a myriad of religious beliefs.

The religious founder Zarathustra/Zardusht in today’s Iran created a religion called Zoroastrianism ca 3 800 years ago and collected this dualistic ideas of struggle between darkness and light, fire and water, good and evil in the Avesta. In their own tongue that belief was called Veh Din, The Good Religion. In 2010 there were ca 2.6 millions of Zoroastrians living mainly in Iran and India, and it was the dominant creed in ancient Persia/Iran for 2000 years until the Muslim invasion in the 600’s CE.  Since 2007 there’s also a Zoroastrian Centre in Paris. When the Persians had invaded Babylon in 539-538 BCE and the Jewish people were captives in Babylon for a time the Jews were influenced in their own religion by the Zoroastrians, which later also affected the later religions Christianity and Islam. But there are also many other creeds around the world now: Jains, Druzes, Samaritans, Yazidi, Scandinavian Pagans etc.

Jews/Hebrews have existed for about 3 800 years at least and Judaism has developed over time. They have their belonging in Israel, even though the conflict between them, the Palestinians and the Muslim World is fierce. They must be allowed to continue existing though, just as all others. I will deal with that specific conflict again in yet another text soon. According to the Jews they are the by God Chosen people and have developed a belief system of different mitsvot/commandments and both the written Torah and an oral Torah. There are explanations and interpretations added to that, and also the Jewish mysticism Qabbala. Since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD today’s Rabbinic Judaism has developed, but today there are different fractions. There are the very devoted Hassidim and Haredim, there are orthodox Jews, liberal/reform Jews and seculars/Atheists who are Jews by blood and tradition, but not religious.

Jesus was a Jew and he was teaching other Jews around 30 AD when he as wandering carpenter, miracle-worker and preacher walked with his closest disciples through mainly Galilee, but also Samaria and Judea. Yeshua Bar Yosef/Jesus son of Joseph was a social reformer, teaching us humility, gender equality in a way, fairness and devotion. He was of humble origin, but a great man. He though critisized the overly show-off pious, and also taught his disciples that the sabbath was made for man, not the other way round. However Jesus, who was called the Messiah by his followers, was later imprisoned by the authorities and crucified in Jerusalem at Passover ca 30 or 33 AD. For Christians it’s important though to acknowledge him as the Saviour and that he will come back on the last day. The first Nazarenes/Christians were led by Jesus’ brother Jacob and Jesus’ followers were originally seen as an inter-Jewish sect.  Saul/Paulus first persecuted Christians, but later was converted into Christianity during a trip to Damascus in 35 AD and when he met Jesus’ brother Jacob and Simon Peter two years later they were upset by his ideas of spreading the faith to other people’s. At the first church meeting in Jerusalem in 49 AD though it was said that non-Jews should be allowed to become Christians. However in the year 90 AD there was a distinct break between the Christians and the Jews when the Christians no longer were welcomed in the synagogues. The Jewish Rabbi Robert Wolkoff in Gothenburg here in Sweden said about 20 years ago: “Jesus’ beliefs connect us, but the belief in Jesus separates us” about that schism. None the less, both creeds are important. In the year 60 AD the evangelist Mark went to Egypt and founded the first Christian church in Egypt, the Coptic Church and became their first bishop. The Copts in Egypt now though have a very difficult time because of new religious persecutions. I wrote about those persecutions a bit a couple of weeks ago.

Also the Syriac Christians today are persecuted, which also along the Egyptian Copts, and the Church of Ethiopia, are the earliest still existing churches on Earth. In the on-going Syrian civil war the Christian Syrians are fiercely persecuted. The last two years the persecution has intensified. The Syriac Christians have been accused of being loyal to the Assad régime, but also refused to participate in the rebellion. Because of the financial crises, persecutions, war and forced conversions to Islam tens of thousands of Christians have fled their ancestorial provinces of Deir Az-Zour and Hasakah. Ishow Goriye, Head of the Syriac Church recently said: “It breaks my heart to think how our long history is being uprooted”, mainly by radical jihadists and Al-Qaeda. The Syriac Christians have been forced to pay for the revolution, just as a mean to milk their resources. Bassam Ishaq, Christian member of the Syrian National Coalition has told how they have been asked menacingly after having been taken captives: “Why don’t you become a Muslim? Then you can be free.” The problem is that any conversion made under threat is a false conversion. It doesn’t come from inner conviction – through the heart and mind, so it’s not really valid. Have we Christians been angels through history? Absolutely not. We have behaved just as cruel and menacingly to people of other creeds. Through history, even today, Christians also have hated, persecuted and/or killed fellow-Christians belonging to a different church or with a more or less different interpretation of the theology. But that is also one of my points in this piece. Every religious and secular belief system can be used in a good and a bad way, for peace and love, acceptance and understanding, or to build high walls and to separate “us from them”, those who don’t live or think exactly as ourselves. The Muslims think that they follow the last and best religion, that the Jews and Christians had good prophets, but that Mohammed was the last and best one. There’s also Taqiya, a way to show one side of the belief outward, but work in secret for another agenda to save the faith. Islam CAN be a faith of peace, yes, when used in a good way by Muslims. Christianity CAN be a faith of peace, yes, when used in a good way by me and other fellow-Christians. Judaism CAN be a faith of peace, yes, when used in a good way by Jews. But that also can be applied to other belief systems too. Talk to a Sikh, or a Hindu, or a Jain, or a Yazid, to a Buddhist or to a Scandinavian Pagan. Talk to an atheist, to a socialist, to a communist, to a liberal, or to a conservative. In Pakistan Sunni Muslims persecute and kill thousands of Shia Muslims, and earlier today there were eight new killed in Jallalabad, Afghanistan. I have tried to through my contacts to contribute to an end on this mindless bloodshed, both within the same religions, between the religions and secular belief systems too. Within Islam there is also an intense struggle today between traditional, conservative Muslims, liberal Muslims, seculars, feminists both religious and non-religious/atheists.

The tensions between North and South Korea is problematic. In North Korea at least 200 000 North Koreans are internated in local concentration camps and Kim Jong Un leads a harsh rule. War-mongering is heard. That is a great tragedy since we only have one Earth to take care of and instead ought to focus on building the societies and try to be helpful and fair to each other, not tear things and our humanity down. Earlier today USA warned its citizens from travelling to North Africa and the Middle East, because of an imminent threat from Al-Qaeda about terrorist attacks. USA has today closed down 22 consulates until tomorrow. We MUST learn to accept the human variety. We MUST learn to respect the common value independent of creed and belief system. There is always someone who think slightly different than yourself. Why kill that person or group? Let’s learn from each other instead. When it comes to the Middle East, anthropologist Yossi Nager at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has noticed in his research that the Arabs, Palestinians and the Jews share the same genetic gene pool. They might have different religions and beliefs, but genetically they are the same people. Why not show that in unison instead? Why shouldn’t we all pay attention to our common human heritage deep down? Instead of fighting and killing each other and annihilate our human race, let’s find the bridges and “fight” the weather system instead. We only have this planet. We also have each other in a humanitarian brother- and sisterhood, if we think more wisely.

Anders Moberg, August 3d 2013.







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