A thinking man, the Paris attacks – and their precursors in Beirut and elsewhere – just won’t go away.
Even now the British government is trying to secure a consensus for bombing Syria. I have my doubts.
It occurred to me earlier to wonder… is all this because Christians are not Christian enough, because Muslims are not Muslim enough?
I know the Bible fairly well, the Koran much less so. In fairness I did try to read a translation of the latter (as indeed one is compelled to read a translation of the former) and – in translation – it just read too much as a rant and I couldn’t get a grip on it, really didn’t like it. Nor do I like the Bible much. Taken as a whole there’s an awful lot of nasty stuff in it.
But I’ve known a lot of people who called themselves Christians, and they seemed a fairly likable lot, and I’ve known a good many people who call themselves Muslims and they’ve been – overall – no less kind and accommodating, and no more mad, than the Christians.
So there’re these millions of essentially rather nice people, of both faiths, and the impression I have is that, collectively, they all want a nicer, more tolerant, kinder world, and they manage, somehow, to make their rather weird holy books fundamental to that nicer, more tolerant, kinder worldview.
Yet we still haven’t got that world. The world remains a crappy place for an awful lot of people. Whether it’s the girls abducted by Boko Haram, the people slaughtered by Daesh (I don’t care that ISIS don’t care what they’re called) or the physically and intellectually malnourished kids who receive in Britain – and it seems in the US – a third-rate education.
And okay, us humanists and us atheists haven’t done an awful lot to make it better, though a great many are trying, but (a) we haven’t been visibly around all that long (the believers would mostly have killed us if they’d known) and (b) we do not collectively have the organisation and the money that the religions could lay their hands on.
I thought it striking that in commenting on the shit-head (I’ve forgotten his name and wouldn’t enshrine it in text even if I could remember it) who was the ‘mastermind’ behind the Paris attacks, it was mentioned that he recruited from among offenders in prison and from the disaffected in the lower orders of society.
Well, Christians, Muslims and others, how does it happen that there are still such vulnerable people around? How is it that the poor remain poor, that the disaffected remain disaffected, that conditions and punitive perspectives in prisons remain almost Victorian, that kids go hungry and abused in the richest nations on earth and the poorest?
Why is it that the greatest memorials to faith are in pieces of architecture visited extensively by tourists? All that wealth, all that organisation, yet still the world has scarcely changed for the better.
We can find the money to fight wars, whether they’re against drugs, against terrorists, against rogue states or hostile ideologies – and in the process we can make any number of politicians and arms-developers wealthy – yet we seem unable to make war on the inequalities and social policies which provide the enemy with his recruits.
2000 years to get to this? What have you been doing?