In the hours and days after the Orlando shootings I found myself filled with grief, anger, complacency. A friend described feeling “activated” and I related so much… activated to do something but unclear what.
I wrote an article titled “we are all terrorists” describing what I observe in myself, parts of me that still judge others, parts of me that condone hate and participate in complacency. I called these parts of myself my “mad dogs” and called on us all to take a look at the mad dogs that we each have, the parts of ourselves that don’t serve humanity.
Today as many of us woke up there were a few less of us. This week we’ve seen terror attacks in Istanbul, Bangladesh and now this morning, Bagdad. I was again reminded of my mad dogs and thought about how mine behaved this week….
I wrote about Mad Dogs for a week. Then I asked my friends about their mad dogs– what parts of them are they actively working on, what do they need to transform within themselves to help heal the world? My dear friend and writing partner Mary sent me this. I hesitated to print it–It felt like a rant, a venting of the frustrations many of us feel. I had been so committed to confronting only the mad dogs within ourselves… but the more I read it and the more the world remains burning, the more this feels like a version of truth we should all consider:
I’ve been assigned to do a research project about Islam. (and Christianity and Judaism and all ism’s and ams everywhere and yes I am including you too, Buddhism, Hinduism, and atheism!)
I am sick and tired of people using words like sacred, faith, or belief as a shield for oppression and violence. Until I hear people in mosques and pulpits and temples actively denouncing and discarding the idea that it is a sin to engage in sexual relations with people of the same sex ( or a bare minimum let go of the notion that those people will burn in eternal hell fire for being who they are), and that it is not ok to stay mute about issues that affect millions of people, I believe that we are getting nowhere.
And don’t start with me about the nonsense that it is ok to be gay, but it’s not ok to have gay sex! It’s the same damn thing!!! This logic is a discriminatory SNARL from a rabid dog who paces over the grates of oppression hell, growling and snapping at the hands of anyone who dares to reach up and out. Even the tiny hands of children are stomped back down when they try to be heard!
I think assault weapons should be banned for the greater good. I also think a paragraph in an instructional text from GOD that says that our trans, bi, gay or questioning brothers and sisters are going to hell unless they stop acting like who they are should be banned too-Stop treating these mad words as sacred!
Mental illness + poverty+ a lack of education + treating evil ideas as sacred words from the Almighty ruler of the universe is a recipe for the guaranteed propagation of terrorism, murder and oppression. (I guess it is ok to believe that YOU will burn in eternal hell for whatever reasons YOU choose to imagine, but it is NOT ok to teach people around the world that THEY will burn in hell for being them!)
Stop, breathe, and think. These words are outright dangerous in the hands of a non-critical or desperate or even an indecisive person. And trust me, every ism has them-(yes even yours!)
No one should have to “interpret” a commandment to kill a human who does not believe like them. No one should read that God says that women are chattel or that it is a good idea to beat children into submission or that gay sex is evil! Animal cruelty should not have a biblical safe haven. No time period or reason or context exists that makes any of this remotely acceptable.
I think it’s time for faithful people to take a stand.
Edit the books. Sit down with a big red marker and cross this flipping nuttiness OUT.
I’m sorry. I love my faithful friends. I pray in Holy Name Cathedral almost every day on my way to work. I have a special place in my heart for the beautiful practices of the Muslim people. I have been blessed with hearing and participating in the call to prayer in Abu Dhabi and here at home. I practice Buddhist precepts. I am a BIG proponent and an avid practitioner of many faith habits, but for goodness sakes, let’s add a disclaimer or discard the bad parts altogether – once and for all just do it! No religion is exempt! None is better or worse- we all have this problem!
And yes, of course you can argue about this, but please, first look at your own faith literature -subtle silences can be just as damaging when it comes to accepting discriminatory and violent practices. Read the Buddhist philosophy about sex or the rights of women;trust me, you will notice a rather serious missing.
In other religions, people are taught that being gay is a sin. This is a violent, oppressive ideal that is written down or insinuated in most sacred books and studied all over the world. (Also, the “eternal Treblinka” described by Einstein and continually suffered by other species originates from the idea in these books that we are somehow superior to all other beings.)
Stop talking to me about ‘radical extremism’ and start saying that these parts of the book that WE follow are WRONG too, and that no loving God or meditative Buddha would ever utter these incendiary words or stay silent about inequality and we do NOT believe this, nor do we think you should believe this! Anything less is not enough in my not-so-humble opinion.
Root it out. Expose it all. And throw this rotten shit into the landfill of bad mad ideas where it belongs before it can infect anyone else! ( and please don’t talk to me about context or history! These ideas and so many others were NEVER right-never ever ever NEVER in any context during any time period for any reason!)
Thank you for reading. I love each and every one of you, especially if you disagree with me!
Now, gimme that marker!