No I don’t want to be violent. And of course, there is no logical reason to think religious extremism means violence.
Many in religious orders give away everything they own and dedicate their lives to Christ including an oath of celibacy. That’s extreme. Some monks and sisters dedicate their lives to prayer, and some even take a vow of silence. That’s extreme. Those many martyrs present and past could avoid death by simply saying words that would run counter to their religion. That’s Extreme. People like Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., chose to be arrested and put their lives in jeopardy in order to act as they believed their religion required. (Anyone who thinks his actions were not religiously motivated should listen to A Knock at Midnight.) What about Jainism? Some practitioners are so non-violent that they were a mask so as not to kill any bugs through breathing and sweep the floor before they walk so as not to tread on any insects. All of this is extreme religion and has nothing to do with violence. I could go on with examples but hopefully by now you can see that it is odd to equate religious extremism with violence.
So why has our language developed as if “religious extremism” is violent when obviously this does not fit? There are at least two reasons.
- It diverts attention away from Islam for the violence perpetrated in it’s name.
- It sends the message that religion is fine just don’t take it too seriously.
Of course, these goals fit well with different agendas people have. What’s my point? My point is mainly that people recognize how language is being manipulated. Hopefully, now when you read my title you will have a different and truer impression of what I am saying.
Finally, I will say that this post was inspired by a you tube video by Sam Harris. Yes, I have been critical of him in many places but I think he made a good point here.