Monday October 1, 2012

Bob Stannard

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say

I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

- John Lennon

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula from California is an Egyptian/American Coptic Christian who woke up one day with the bright idea of making a movie. Not a good movie, but a movie designed to set the world on fire.

Trailers for his film were first released on YouTube in early July amidst protests from the Arab world. The film was released in its entirety a week ago and all hell broke loose in Egypt and Syria. As of this writing protests are breaking out in 20 Islamic countries. People have died,property destroyed and for what? A very lame movie produced by a convicted felon apparently for no other reason than to push the hot buttons of people who are religious fanatics.

This movie is the equivalent of some idiot yelling out "FIRE" in a crowded theatre. Here in America we value our rights to free speech over just about everything else, but with those rights come responsibility. Our courts have ruled that our rights to free speech do not cover the person who yells "FIRE" in a crowded theatre. Likewise, Mr. Nakoula should be held responsible for his actions.

We’re seeing this more and more with incendiary characters the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck who will say anything for ratings for their hideous talk shows; paying no mind to the influence their words may have on the volatile people out there.

That said, the reactions from our brothers and sisters (mostly brothers) in the Islamic world although immature were predictable. It is the response one would expect from people who are simultaneously not well educated yet brainwashed by those who choose to use religion as their own personal controlling device.

We should not be surprised by the reaction that we are seeing overseas, because this is what happens when people know of only what they’re told. In this country we’ve seen what happens when religious zealots become inspired to kill doctors for performing legal abortions.

For centuries mankind has been plagued by the "My God is better than your God" syndrome. Religion has been one of the primary reasons we’ve been at war for the past 500 years. Of course, religion is the excuse, but perhaps not the real reason. For centuries men have used religion to gain political advantage and power over people.

When religion overtakes education, the results are what we’re seeing today in Egypt, et. al. Should a Christian burn down a mosque in California, because some radical Muslim in Syria burns a Bible or produces a movie that depicts Jesus in a negative light? Most Americans would think not, but rest assured that there are those among us who would react no differently than those people we see on the Nightly News destroying our embassies. Most people would not respond this way and most likely it would only be a few who reside in the world of the lunatic fringe, which presumably makes up the rioters we see in the Mid-East.

There may be one meaningful difference: the riots that we’re seeing have been orchestrated by Al Qaida to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11. The bogus movie that came out of California may, or may not, have triggered the uprisings. The movie may just have provided some convenient cover; blame the United States for blaspheming Mohammed, notwithstanding the small, but important fact that the United States had absolutely nothing to do with the film.

But this is the beauty of an under-educated, overly religious population. They don’t need to be burdened with facts. Facts and truth just get in the way. People who are swallowed up by religion, and who choose to be told what to think as opposed to thinking for themselves, have the luxury of leading a much less complicated life. If their spiritual leader tells them to strap on a bomb for Allah they can’t buckle up fast enough to kill innocent people.

If a radical Evangelical in this country tells parishioners that abortion is against the wishes of their god and those who perform abortions should be punished, then don’t be shocked when a doctor is killed.

The problem is that we have had, and always will have, charismatic people who will use God as a vehicle to instill fear and control over people. They use God to amass power, wealth and create conflict for their advantage. Is this the way life is supposed to be? Education is the answer. Perhaps this explains why some want to abolish the Education Department.

Imagine nothing to kill or die for; no religion too. Imagine all the people living life in peace.

Bob Stannard lives in Manchester.