Is Religion a Force for Peace?

History is riddled with strife, chaos, and violence that only tell us that religion is absolutely not a force for peace. It is, evidently, quite the opposite. To defend their own beliefs, many people have sacrificed their lives and, sometimes, have become martyrs in their own circles. Pages of history tell of the Crusades, the Holy Wars, and other similar events that people pushed for in an effort to make the world hear that their religion is the absolute truth or, in most occasions, in order to gain political, economic, or territorial control. However, it is also evident that events of the past has not been adequate to make people know better than to force people into their circle.

The Crusades were a series of religiously sanctioned military campaigns, waged by much of Roman Catholic Europe, particularly the Franks of France and the Holy Roman Empire. The specific crusades to restore Christian control of the Holy Land were fought over a period of nearly 200 years, between 1095 and 1291. Other campaigns in Spain and Eastern Europe continued into the 15th century. The Crusades were fought mainly by Roman Catholic forces (taking place after the East-West Schism and mostly before the Protestant Reformation) against Muslims who had occupied the near east since the time of the Rashidun Caliphate, although campaigns were also waged against pagan Slavs, pagan Balts, Jews, Russian and Greek Orthodox Christians, Mongols, Cathars, Hussites, Waldensians, Old Prussians, and political enemies of the various popes.

The Great Revolt, which began at Caesarea in 66 CE, was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews of the Judea Province against the Roman Empire. It rooted from the Greek and Jewish religious tensions but later grew with anti-taxation protests and attacks upon Roman citizens.

The Bar Kokhba revolt (132–136 AD) against the Roman Empire was the third major rebellion by the Jews of Judaea Province and the last of the Jewish-Roman Wars. Simon bar Kokhba, the commander of the revolt, was acclaimed as a Messiah, a heroic figure who could restore Israel. The revolt established an independent state of Israel over parts of Judea for over two years, but a Roman army of 12 legions with auxiliaries finally crushed it.

During the reign of Emperor Zeno, tensions between the Christian community and the Samaritans in Neopolis grew dramatically. According to Samaritan sources, Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno (who ruled 474-491 and whom the sources call “Zait the King of Edom”) persecuted the Samaritans with no mercy. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church.

These events are only a few of those that I can cite to give a solid foundation to my conclusion on where religion stands in the sphere of peace. However, it maybe so that I am narrow-sighted and only looked into those tragic events with a religious root. Then again, maybe, religion isn’t the core of the problem. Maybe, religion isn’t to blame. Maybe, it is the people who run these institutions. All the same, the touch of religion is evident and undeniable.

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On Death Penalty

The death penalty is one of the most controversial punishments for a crime. Some, most especially the church, are on the opinion that it isn’t humane and is rather a crime,  it’s just not right. While some say that it is only fitting to have those criminals executed.

A few years ago, the Philippines abolished the death penalty. All those who were on the death row were, instead, given a life sentence. Today, after the consecutive killings and burnings of some used car dealers, some people are petitioning for it to put back on the law. But what exactly are the merits, if any, of this kind of punishment?

The way I see it, the only good thing that can come out of it is that there will be less people in the prisons. However, some people think that the death penalty is a good way of scaring criminals and, therefore, there will be less of them. How true is that?

Anyway, if I were cruel enough and am sympathetic about someone who’s been murdered, I’d rather have that criminal rot away and suffer in prison. If I were so kind, I’d rather let that criminal live and think that maybe he can change and become a good person later. I do believe people are either one of two: one who sees evil in everybody else and one who sees good in every person.

But, lets go back to the question above. What are the merits of this thing in question? If I were to see it as a merit, then I should cite that, indeed, there will be a slightly smaller number of prisoners in jail. And, in consequence to that, there’ll be a smaller number of people to feed and secure. Second, maybe, just maybe, it is a form of kindness to end someone’s suffering. There was always that thing about death not being the worst thing that can happen to a person.

I guess, those are the only rather good things I can see about it. Do I have to look further? I don’t think so. I definitely cannot see it as a way to lessen possible crimes. “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” Most especially, if we are to speak of the hardened criminals. Or so, I think.

How about the demerits? Quite a few, I think. First, to counter one the so-called “merits” above, it will still cost to execute the people in the death row. No matter what method the forces will choose to use, there will always be expenditures.

Second, there is always the moral issue about it. Even if those are criminals who are sitting on the death row, those are still human lives which would have to be taken away by another human, be it by machine or poison. Someone’s death will still have to be in the hands of another person. I don’t think that the role of the executioner is such a sought-after job.

Another thing would be the possibility of an error. In every investigation –  hypotheses, deductions, conclusions – there is always a margin of error, isn’t there? Besides that, there will always exist the ministrations of the powerful and the influential. And how many innocent people have died for the crimes of others? I couldn’t tell.

Lives are always wasted for the wrong reasons everyday. This only alters the state of the minds of people in varying degrees. There was that time when the death penalty was in place. Then, people wished for it to be gone – for various reasons. Now, they want it back. Clearly, people are looking for the ‘perfect” justice system. Unfortunately, wherever you go in this world, such a thing does not exist.

Learning, From the Bright and the Gloomy

Do things happen for a reason?

Of course!

Cars sometimes get totalled in collisions because of the force of impact. Leaves from trees fall because they dry up. Houses get destroyed in a storm because of the sheer force of nature. Skin ages because of oxidation. One feels hungry because of the acids in the stomach. One feels thirsty because of the body’s need for fluids. And all those other things.

OK, I’m kidding. That’s not exactly the point of the question is it?

But I do believe that all things fall to one: learning. Whatever happens to us, be it tragedy or triumph, it’ll always depend on how we look at it. For everything that happens, the culmination would be whatever we get it from it.

If it’s worth a celebration, we can simply be thankful about it, take whatever insights we gain from them, and learn about how we can improve through them. If it’s rather mournful, best idea would be to buck up, keep yourself together, accept that it’s happened, and learn from it. Most of the time, they say, it is for the better.

Tragedy or triumph, there is no point being stuck in the moment. Change is the only thing permanent. If it’s a good thing, be thankful while it lasts. Otherwise, don’t worry about it. It’s not permanent, either.

I’m Posting every week in 2011!

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog once a week for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.

Signed,

MJ

The Floods, The Climate, The Future

Queensland
Queensland

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro

St. Bernard
St. Bernard

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Doesn’t it seem all wrong? And Australia is supposed to be a “dry continent”. Or something like it. The experts are saying that the extreme weather that the world is experiencing today is due to what has been long called, “climate change”. The Earth has become warmer. Due to that there is always water overhead just waiting to pour when the clouds can no longer keep themselves together.

Images of floods and landslides are all around us. Homes destroyed, futures uncertain. Everyone is affected. And neither am I an exception to that. But, thankfully, the situation in our area is not as bad as in the images above. However, just across the street, where houses are along rice fields, some have beds all wet due to too much flood water. (Most of us live in one-storey dwellings.)

Amidst all these, one good thing always comes up. A lot of people are always seemingly willing to help – giving relief wherever needed. Unfortunately, very few think of long-term aid. The very same tragedy has happened in Southern Leyte a few years ago. The place where the landslide occurred was almost, as they say it, “written off the map”. But, apparently, no one bothered to do anything much about it. Now, people, politicians mostly, are bickering, passing around the blame. (Because someone just has to be blamed…)

Last year, it was the earthquakes. Haiti was the most devastated. Millions of dollars was supposed to flow into Haiti to aid in the nation’s recovery. However, after a year, not much has changed. A huge portion of the promised aid has not yet appeared in the country. Only a few people saw the bigger picture last year. And just like in Southern Leyte, no long-term plans has been effected.

On a lighter side, whenever there are floods, I’m always reminded of a song by the Jonas Brothers: Year 3000. (Or should I say Busted? I’ve never heard their original version so I wouldn’t be reminded of them.) In that song, there’s a line that says,

“Not much has changed but they lived underwater”

Is that what the future has in store for us? A world where people lived underwater? I sure do hope we’d have developed gills by that time.

Oh, well not all of us can look that far. To some, the world is gonna end in 2012. There’s even a dreadful radio advertisement from a fast food chain here that speaks of tragic events and ends with, “We only have until 2012.”

Girl Faces a New Year With Optimistic Outlook

Just woke up, it’s a brand-new year
So many things that I wanna say
It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way
Everything’s OK, nothing feels broken

First day in a brand-new year
What will it be like, will it all go down?
Everyday I’m gonna write this down
Right here in my diary

And all this time, while the world passes us by
What will we leave behind, but the pages of our lives?
And if we take our time, I bet we can all find
The things in life worth living for

One thing I know is that when life’s moving slow
I’m not out here on my own, I’ve got You (to get me through this)
I’m on a long journey through mountains of apathy
And I’m not afraid to walk through

Everywhere I look it’s not that different
Another year but it makes no difference
Will we still be going through the same old issues?
Everything’s ok, nothing feels broken

With the days of the old behind me
Another summer and I feel like climbing
Write another page while the sun’s still shining
Right here in my diary

And all this time, while the world passes us by
What will we leave behind, but the pages of our lives?
And if we take our time, I bet we can all find
The things in life worth living for

One thing I know is that when life’s moving slow
I’m not our here on my own, I’ve got You (to get me through this)
I’m on a long journey through mountains of apathy
And I’m not afraid to walk through

Fading, hating, waiting for some place where I can fit in
Show me, grow me, hold me, till my balance starts to set in
Fading, hating, waiting for some place where I can fit in
Show me, grow me, hold me, till my balance starts to set in

All this time, while the world passes us by
What will we leave behind, but the pages of our lives?
And if we take our time, I bet we can all find
The things in life worth living for

One thing I know is that when life’s moving slow
I’m not out here on my own, I’ve got You (to get me through this)
I’m on a long journey through mountains of apathy
And I’m not afraid to walk through

(These are words from FM Static‘s Boy Moves to a New Town With Optimistic Outlook from their album Dear Diary. You’d have noticed that if you listen to them. OK, I modified it a bit.)