Continuing yesterday’s topic – why can’t we get along? Why do we feel the need to stand up for what is “right” and destroy our opponents? I’m not talking about internet arguments here, I’m talking about countries going to holy wars against each other.
As I said yesterday – most modern wars are defensive. They might have valid offensive reasons as well but politicians keep those to themselves. To rally the public they always talk about protecting the country from external threat.
Sometimes these threats are very real, like terrorism, even if the whole “war on terror” idea is misguided, as some argue. Terrorists kill innocent people. Innocent people need to be protected. Easy.
But what makes people feeling threatened about religious aspects of their lives. Why do they feel the need to protect democracy in some country half around the world? Why do they feel the need to protect Islam from infidels? Why do they feel the need to protect the King from insults he doesn’t care about himself, like in Thailand? Why do they feel the need to correct abstract injustices that do not affect them directly, or even do not affect anyone directly but abstract ideas?
Why can’t all get along? Why can’t we live and let live? Why can’t we peacefully coexist with one another?
At this point I should say that this idea of peaceful coexistence is very popular. It forms the bedrock of modern vision of the world. It’s anthem is probably John Lennon’s song Imagine:
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
it goes. Peaceful coexistence is what everybody strives for, even beauty queens on Miss Fuflandistan pageants. It’s accepted as axiomatic. And yet it’s all a hoax. It’s just that – product of one’s imagination, it will never be possible as a matter of principle.
Well, for starters, it’s Kali Yuga, there will be no peace in this age. Or we can say that the struggle between devas and asuras is universal, it will never stop, and people will always act as agents for one side or another. We can quote Bhagavad Gīta as an example that religious wars must happen from time to time and the Lord must personally intervene to punish the wrongdoers.
Talking about subject at hand, modern religious wars, we can see how these eternal underlying causes manifest themselves in real life.
First of all, people do not just exist. They have wants, they have aspirations, they have dreams, and they work very hard towards fulfilling those dreams. They need to see progress, constant change for the better, they can’t just “be”.
Now, when you want something you tend to evaluate everything you see in relation to the object of your desire. Some things will be favorable, some will be seen as obstacles, and, perhaps, many would fall into the category “undetermined”, don’t care one way or the other.
Obstacles, however, will always be there. This is the world of duality, something will always, always be wrong, and the thing about obstacles is that we don’t co-exist with them.
We can try to remove them, we can try to go around them, we can try to ignore them, forget they are there, but we will never coexist. They will always, always elicit negative emotions and it’s only a matter of power how much resistance we put up.
Take modern liberal atheism. For some reason they want to convert the whole world into it and presence of religious people is seen as hindering this “progress”. They’d say things like “Religion kills science”, they’d say that unless everyone is brought up into rational atheism the society will not utilize its full potential.
When they see Muslim women staying home and being nice housewives they say it’s illogical, half of society’s productive force is wasted on trivialities like cooking and cleaning. Such a waste of human resources is unacceptable. Insisting on this way of life threatens the very foundation of atheism – rationality and logic. It doesn’t make sense, therefore it must be stopped.
Muslims, in their turn, do not want to lose control of their women, as atheists would say, but actually womens duties and place in the society is determined by their religion and emancipating them would go against God’s law. God’s laws cannot be violated, therefore it’s a sacred duty of every Muslim to rise against this external threat.
There’s a lot more to this then feminism, of course. Secular societies put personal happiness at the center of one’s life, worshiping God is being pushed to the side, preferably to the weekend, and it should never interfere with one’s supreme duty to please himself. Religious people obviously can’t accept that, they would never agree to treat their worship as a hobby and therefore they feel that their religion is under a threat.
Ultimately, all “holy wars” are fought to protect one’s idea of dharma, be it atheistic, Islamic, of Hindu. This idea is equally abstract for everyone but it’s nevertheless inviolable.
Even as devotees we have obstacles on the path of our devotional progress. We don’t even think about co-existing with them. We know all obstacles must be removed. Mostly they are within our own hearts but many of us also see them externally. We see other devotees as obstacles to Kṛṣṇa consciousness all the time, no matter how ridiculous it sounds.
We have our own idea of truth, which we claim is self-evident, and everything that goes against it is seen as our enemy. So we fight, to protect dharma.
Can this fighting be stopped? No, never, as long as we live in the material world our hearts will be impure and so there will always be obstacles to our progress, and, as I said, no one co-exists with his obstacles, no one puts up with threats, not for a long time.
What should we do about it? Should we try to solve this problem? I’d say looking for solution futile, a fools errand. Material world is unfixable or it wouldn’t be called material – duality will always be there. I’d say all we can do is manage the symptoms, sometimes quite skillfully, sometimes not, but that’s our only option.
Well, not the only option, because the ultimate solution is to become Kṛṣṇa conscious and liberate ourselves from material duality. Until that happens, however, our only option is try and keep our nose clean and accept that we will never succeed in that, too.
This might not sound very reassuring but we should always remember that the rest of our stay in the material world will never be problem-free and so we will always be compelled to fight to correct those problems.
Let this fight go on, I’d say, our success doesn’t depend on winning this battle anyway, it depends on becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious while all of it is going on.
Or let me present it like this – while this world is based on duality, as if we lived on a two-dimensional plane, our real progress should be done in the third dimension – up, towards Kṛṣṇa. No matter what our current X and Y coordinates are, it’s only Z that matters.