Saturday, November 1, 2008

Is Judicial Killing right?

Why kill someone? What makes judicially sanctioned killing ‘better’ than normal (if that is the correct term) killing? What brought this to mind is the immanent execution of the people known as the Bali Bombers. No one can offer any excuse for the abominable deed that they carried out – killing over 200 innocent people – but does executing them help anyone?

Not having followed very closely the trial which led to the conviction and sentencing of these people I cannot comment on the detail. All I know is that they were motivated by religious conviction and believed that what they were doing was ‘right’. Right in that they would please Allah, because they were removing ‘unbelievers’ from the earth. Now being a relatively straight forward thinking man I find this difficult to understand – killing something God made will please Him?

This is where I tread on thin ice – religion and spirituality are not the same thing (vide priestly paedophilia). A religious person may well be very spiritual but just because one can recite the Koran or the Bible or the Bhagavad-Gita from memory does not make you a spiritual person. In my understanding a religious text gives guide lines for living a ‘good’ life. These texts are stepping stones to union with God, Allah, Vishnu, Krishna, the Absolute or whatever your name for God is. 

All these texts tell us that union with God is the purpose of Life – after all He made us for some purpose. But they all stress that followers need to actually live the way the texts show – not just to memorise them and then do something else. To do that is being hypocritical – “I believe in God, but I know better.”

To be religious is to follow the letter of the texts – this is the dogma. This is what various interpreters of the texts say it means. In other words you are told what to do – don’t think for yourself – just do as you are told. This sort of mentality is very common and leads to all sorts of problems and misery and unhappiness. Quite the reverse of what it is supposed to do.

This is why I say that religion and spirituality are not necessarily the same thing.

To be religious you follow a creed; without thought on your part, you just follow and do what you are told. This leads to differences – “My religion tells me that I am right and you are wrong.” This mentality gives rise to entrenched attitudes, to wars and death and destruction.

Spirituality in inclusive and unifies. Religion is exclusive and divides.

Spirituality is not dogmatic – there are no rules. Religion is dogmatic – there are rules.

Spirituality recognises that ALL life arose from the one source. Religion teaches differently.

Spirituality loves all sentient beings. Religion loves only those that follow the same texts.

Spirituality encourages thoughtful reflection. Religion does not.

Spirituality is Love. Religion espouses love but doesn’t always show it.

So, while I am desperately sorry for those that lost loved ones ( I lost my only brother in Zimbabwe – killed on his farm by armed insurgents). I am also sorry for the bombers. In their ignorance they thought they were doing the right thing – for their religion.

In this case everyone loses.

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