Does “Truth” Really Set Us Free – Or Does It Kill Us?
As I exited the metro train at my airplane destination, rode the escalator down into the corridor of the facility and walked into the building, looking straight ahead at me were two individuals standing next to a book stand of sorts they had apparently set up. Their display housed a paperback publication called The Watchtower that was being handed out to travelers for FREE – much like the Christian missionaries do. The Nation of Islam (Black Muslims) in America, led by Minister Louis Farrakhan, also hand out a similar publication, a newspaper named The Final Call. The Final Call is a publication that has expanded its content immensely over the last few decades, now covering topics from religion to entertainment, technology, and other news from around the globe. Its contents I find to be very enlightening and far reaching.
These individuals at the airport also had signs posted next to The Watchtower stand that bore the message, “the way we can bring peace to the world”. Now, if you are not familiar with what The Watchtower is, I’ll explain. It is a magazine that is published by the Jehovah’s Witness religious organization. It contains scriptures from the bible, and then provides its followers/readers an interpretation of the scripture – essentially telling them what they are supposed to glean from the particular passage. This practice is the same in all three major religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islamism – in order to push their particular religious agendas and recruit or convince others that their truth is the truth. Writers also give account of the missionary activities of believers in the faith promoting their truth around the world; they also provide real-life examples of how to apply their teachings to every day life. Jehovah’s Witnesses are widely known for their early morning door knocking practices, one in which they walk around specific residential neighborhoods handing out their publication, along with other small pamphlets, seeking to share their truth with those who will listen and sift out would-be converts over to their beliefs and way of life. Each edition of the magazine also consists of articles written by columnists and designed to give its readers additional guidance. I might add that the life principles teachings, detached from the religious aspect, I feel can be a very good thing. But people must ultimately make their own minds up about following them; it tends not to last very long if done any other way. It can be very short-lived or turned on its head if the decision to pursue the new life wasn’t a sincere one, but perhaps coerced. To my knowledge, Christianity was the first religion that aggressively sought to convert others over to its faith and beliefs through missionary work and active recruitment. It was also the first to judge other people’s religious beliefs – even those that pre-dated Christianity by thousands of years. It has vehemently opposed any belief other than its own, and moved swiftly across the globe to spread the “Good News”. Historically, most ancient beliefs were purely cultural in nature; children were born into the faith (or cult), not bombarded with being told what they believed was wrong, and that this other belief – not theirs – is actually the real truth. The problem with this? Nobody knows the real truth!
As one who has great respect for freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to practice religion of choice (except for pushing yours onto others – let them seek you out), freedom to live as you wish as long as you aren’t harming others, even the freedom to bear arms. All that I have mentioned, I view as the problem, not the solution, in our attempts to obtain peace. I see this as actually a work against peace as opposed to working in conjunction with it. In this peace I’ll attempt here to explain why.
To my knowledge, throughout documented history religion has never served to unify humanity as a whole; it has mostly served to separate them. It only unites those who share in that particular faith, and even within those there is often separation. Though it might be their intention unite, it has not ever been fully achieved. There is infighting, disagreements, abuse, even murder that has gone on for thousands of years, e.g. today this ridiculous war between Israel and Palestine, all in the name of religious superiority – a belief that one’s GOD is right and the other’s is wrong. Both of them believe that this small strip of land was divinely granted to them by GOD. So the Israelis, who are armed like a military brigade, are bullying and murdering the Palestinian people, driving them off of the land and forcing them out of their own homes – all because GOD promised them this land. What insanity!
The Christian crusades, as early as the 1st Century A.D. sought to impose the beliefs of the Catholic church on neighboring countries and continents. Its fanatics ran around various parts of the globe spewing its “truth” onto any part of humanity in order to convert them over to their beliefs, and often through the use of violent acts. As people resisted, these crusades often turned into bloodbaths that resulted in the brutal torture and murder of tens of thousands of innocent humans, simply because they refused to convert. These militant extremists believed that they were the enlightened ones who must reach the un-enlightened ones, for they surely had the Light that all others needed but just didn’t know it.
IS (formerly known as ISIS) or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is made up of a group of religious zealots who believe that it is their duty given by GOD to bring Islam and Allah (their definition of GOD at least) to the rest of the world by force. This is their truth, and they feel compelled to do so even at the cost of their own lives and the lives of many innocent others. It could be propaganda created by America to bolster fear in the hearts of Americans, but the organization has been quoted saying “we intend to hang the flag of Islam on the White House eventually. America, IS is coming”. Or something along those lines. To mention something like this to war-mongering America and men like John McCain, are true fighting words. We now have all the makings to spark up global conflict in the Middle East – again, with the U.N. at the helm. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if America will soon reach out its military might to take on ISIS in order to protect “national security”. So you see now how what we believe can cause the opposite of peace – war and chaos? Our beliefs drive us, and often drive us into utter madness.
Most of us have heard the words before, “know the truth and the truth shall set you free”. The problem with this is that truth is subjective to what the individual considers and has accepted to be truth. How can all of our truths possibly be the same, when we all grow up under different social, political, cultural, and religious constructs? You can already see how this could cause intense disagreement between groups or individuals who have different truths and opinions, and are fervent about theirs being right. Further, I contest that at the end of the day we really know no truth – that the only truth that bears undeniable proof is the individual’s truth; which can turn into a collective truth of millions, as in the case of religion. But that collectivism still does not make it true – it only makes it a cult. So I ask, is it really possible to have this peace that many speak so hoping-ly of?
20 BradfordSpoke 14
Bradford Speaks is a Life Architect, Coach & Youth Speaker, who desires to wake up the world to see one that it could exist in if only it could employ more love and less hate and war. He seeks to speak to and inspire our youth to live at a higher level of consciousness, to see themselves as their brother’s keeper. He is also an author and self proclaimed philosopher. You may visit his company’s site, Bradford Speaks Life Management, LLC to learn more about his work, and to schedule individual sessions or book him to speak to your youth organization.