We all have a religion. Be it the one we are born into or the one we choose to embrace out of love or strife. To most men religion is important, albeit to varying degrees. Even those who care not about it, a religious identity cannot be wished away that easily. The name, the culture, the ethics, the socio-political scene all come tied up with threads soaked in too many givens, the most important one of them being religion. When we think of how religion promotes war, the following 6 ways stand out:
6. Preach absolutism:
Often, religious tenets preach a black and white approach to understanding life. When you see everything through the eyes of a religious follower, you become blind to seeing and accepting anything that does not follow the same principle of faith as you do. In turn, you are less able to see things from another’s perspective. And when you cannot understand the other mind, you will not feel any compassion for that fellow human being either. This is likely to make you do the other more harm than good.
5. God cannot be wrong:
When you believe in the doctrines of a certain religion so strongly, you will draw sanction for your actions through that very belief itself. You will convince yourself that your God cannot guide you wrong and since you follow him so religiously, you cannot be doing something that does not have His sanction.
4. Protecting our Gods:
My God is better than yours. And since He is my almighty, I will do anything to keep his image unsullied and my faith in him unshaken. We try to protect our Gods from being disrespected by those who do not follow the same religion as us, we revel in intolerance which escalates into war every time the idea of being wronged spreads base. We convince ourselves that we are simply protecting the images of our Gods from worshipers of another God, enough to consider them an enemy to our faith.
3. Sacred texts interpreted:
While none of us living today were alive when the sacred texts of the various religions were written, there are enough of us around now to interpret them, as the situation or the community demands. With a multitude of interpretations being passed off as codified truths and the true messages of love, tolerance and peace contained in them being silenced, the idea of war often finds sanction thorough the “hand” of God Himself and from within his own chronicles, no matter how far removed the execution of His thought maybe from what He really intended them to mean.
2. Religion divides society:
Religion is one of the biggest reasons behind drawing lines of difference between various sections of society. It gives a Christian reason to believe that he is different from a Jew, a Hindu from a Muslim and a Sikh from all others – erasing all ideas of sameness that we enjoy by virtue of being humans first. Hence, a spirit of other-ing is generated, with comparisons and one-upmanship over the neighbor following close behind. Living based on points of difference rather than sameness create intolerance for those who practice a different faith.
1. Defense of identity:
Every religion preaches its own set of “rules and rituals” which become a part of our identity enough to make us believe it is something inseparable from our very being, something we are born with and without which we will be left rudderless. When a concept forms the basis of our identity, or is identity itself for some, it is but natural that it will be defended by us with all our might. War is born out of defending our religious identity, collective or individual, since that means more to us than humanity, sometimes.