On the surface, last week’s terror attack that left at least 22 dead and 59 wounded at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, targeted young people who moments before the blast were happy, dancing and generally enjoying life. The perpetrator (or perpetrators) that carried out the deed—purported to be either funded or inspired by ISIS—probably did so for reasons that we try—and fail—to understand every time an incident like this occurs.
While we cannot understand these actions, what we can do is surmise in a clinical manner what drives madmen to idealogical extremes. What convinces some members of our species to carry out heinous acts against their fellow human beings? What ancient factor separates us in ways that some see as insurmountable?
The answer, though it might hurt, is simple: organized religion.
I am not here to denounce religion in any way or call spirituality a poison to mankind. In fact, the opposite is true. Belief in a higher power drives many people to carry out unbelievable acts of kindness in this world. No matter the religion or which faith is being adhered to, it has the power to bring people together for a common good. Evidence of this can be seen throughout every community and among all religions practiced on Long Island.
However, there is a dark side. Throughout its history, organized religion has inspired bigotry, death and destruction, perpetrated by all faiths upon all other faiths. It convinces some that anyone of a different faith is their enemy—and their enemy must be discriminated against or flat out annihilated. Do these religious renegades truly believe their supposed-peaceful God wants them to hate or kill others? Or have their minds been corrupted by man’s twisted interpretation of holy writings?
Thousands of years of exclusion and bloody conflicts—all for what? For one faction to hold power over another faction for a time period that amounts to the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things? It hardly seems worth it.
It is painfully sad to imagine the ways the human race has held itself back because of the ancient belief that people of differing faiths cannot peacefully coexist.
So many religions—and yet basic human morality seems to be nil.