I find it interesting that there is even a question of the use of violence in context with the sacred.
In the last 250 years, we have seen people in our country interpret “sacred” text to give license to slavery, persecution of the Jews, Mormons, Native Americans, seemingly any religion that doesn’t hold to the local religious beliefs, the domination of women, and other acts of violence against groups that we have thought to have the need for a “stern hand of direction.”
It is interesting that one of the most renowned spiritual leaders of our time, the Dalai Lama, had his country invaded, thousands of his monks slaughtered, and yet he holds no ill will toward the Chinese. A century after slavery was abolished, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. made it his life’s work to make dramatic and sweeping social changes through nonviolent forms of protest. Jesus on the cross did not damn those that crucified him, but rather said “forgive them father for they know not what they do.” When is it that we, as a society, as a race, will learn that violence will ultimately lead only to more of the same?
It seems almost human to pick and choose those texts which justify whatever position it is we’re trying to defend and I am possibly as much to blame for that behavior as anyone, the difference being that I work at being open to transformation and change.
The Christian movement was begun through the teaching of a Jewish rabbi against the prevailing Jewish hierarchy; the Protestant Reformation was based on, protesting and reforming the excesses of the Holy Catholic Church of that time. The Hindu tradition has gone through enormous social and religious changes, Buddhist tradition stemmed from the basic Hindu texts, and Sikhism found its beginnings in the Punjab area of India which is traditionally Hindu.
There is more than enough room in our world for redefining the sacred teachings of the ancients, but I would hope we are evolving to a point of respect for these emerging movements, particularly in light of the history of our own individual religion.
The words violence and sacred do not even belong in the same sentence.
Come to our next “Coffee Talk” at Boots Bakery at 10 a.m. on Feb. 2 where we'll discuss “Violence and the Sacred”