February 11, 2011 at 7:49 am Leave a comment

Recognizing belief for what

it really is


Excerpt from his book “HOW TO AVOID ARMAGEDDON”
Available through Amazon

Click: and type: how to avoid armageddon

The story of Nongquase, a young girl of the Xosa tribe in Southern Africa illustrates how belief, no matter how strongly felt, doesn’t necessarily reflect The Truth. Neither do dreams or visions. In the middle of the nineteenth century Nongquase dreamed that the dead warriors of her tribe instructed her to tell her people to destroy all their cattle and crops. In her dream she was told that if this were done the dead warriors would return and drive the white men back into the sea. The Xosa people believed Nongquose’s dream and destroyed all their cattle and crops. The result was terrible starvation, death and the loss of their lands. Imagine how strong their belief in this dream must have been, and how vivid Nongquase’s vision.

There have been many similar examples of dreams and visions in history, that when fervently and widely believed, resulted in dreadful catastrophe. Masses of normally sensible people often accept an ideology or national policy, which by all the rules of logic should be rejected as wild-eyed speculation, based on a few facts and a lot of nonsense. When the message delivered by a charismatic leader, promises a wonderful reward for following a certain credo, it can spread like wildfire. Promises of restored national honor, freedom, prosperity, equality, justice for the oppressed, revenge, redemption and life forever in Paradise. Such words can stir deep emotions in wide sections of society and camouflage the lies. The history books are besotted with gory massacres that had their beginnings in the fiery words of a politico or priest, which culminated in hordes of normally fairly decent people suddenly hacking off the heads of others in the name of some strongly felt ideal, perceived injustice or God Himself. All based on a belief.

In September 2001, nineteen young men had certain powerful beliefs about the satanic nature of America and hijacked four packed airliners, deliberately crashing them into three strategic buildings, killing thousands of people along with themselves. Imagine the power of their belief! Was it the truth that prompted their actions? Or were they acting as the result of a set of notions based on lies and half-truths that were rationalized into unfathomable dedication – which they misinterpreted as the truth?

It is probably true to say that a large percentage of terrorists, especially those who kill themselves while slaughtering innocent, unsuspecting non-combatants, are impelled to carry out their incomprehensibly drastic deeds by a sense of religious duty. Hundreds of video clips of suicide bombers about to go on a mission, show them calmly bidding their families and friends farewell. In a crowded pedestrian mall in the center of Jerusalem a few years ago, a friend of mine had chatted for a brief moment with a young man who was dressed in a heavy overcoat even though it was a sweltering, hot summer afternoon. “Aren’t you hot in that thick coat?” my friend asked the young man in surprise as he had brushed passed him. The man turned, smiled at him and said, “Not at all.” He continued walking along the mall for another fifty meters before suddenly blowing himself up in the midst of a crowd of shoppers. My friend was deeply shocked by the horrendous scene of splattered blood, gore and terribly shattered bodies, and how close he had been to being blown up himself. But what amazed him most of all was the calm attitude of the suicide bomber. “He actually smiled at me,” my friend kept telling me afterwards.

While the attitudes of these mass killers are molded by what they have been taught in their schools and the propaganda promoted through their newspapers, radio and television, it is invariably their religion that impels them to act in a way that is contrary to every instinct, when teaching them the sweet reward of immediate paradise and everlasting life of glory that is to be gained by self-sacrifice while killing the despised infidel.

Although many of the principles motivating suicide bombers and other people engaged in killing sprees against Israeli citizens, are indeed based on truths, such as the indisputable fact that at the present time the Arabs of Judea, Samaria do not have their own independent state because this region was conquered by the Israelis. Furthermore, many of the people living in these areas are refugees because of the wars in 1948 and 1967. Also Israel continues to maintain a strong military presence in these areas, imposing humiliating roadblocks, throwing hundreds of people into jail and erecting an unsightly wall and a security fence that cuts through fields and villages.

Hundreds of thousands of Arabs living near Israel’s borders are affected. These are all facts that can be easily verified by anyone who is interested. But they are only a small part of the whole picture. And telling only part of any given situation implies ignoring or concealing relevant, possibly vital facts. It is a form of untruthfulness. Any impartial history book or newspaper archive will point out many salient facts that could offer the Arabs a more comprehensive picture of the situation. Indeed, they would discover that the facts tendentiously kept from their notice for over sixty years, have lead to a devastating misconception regarding Jews and Israel. Also many of these concealed facts are the direct cause of their woes – such as not having national independence, the continued refugee status of millions of them, the continued presence of the Israeli army in many of their areas, as well as a constant state of poverty for a large part of the Palestinian population. Had the hundreds of young men and women who have blown themselves up in order to kill Israelis known these relevant facts, it is doubtful that they would have been so keen to commit suicide in order to kill ordinary people.

What the Arab media, schools and mosques have studiously omitted in their lessons about the conflict is that as the result in 1923 of border changes in Palestine (under the League of Nations British Mandate), over three-quarters of the country became an independent Arab state, now known as the Kingdom of Jordan; that on a number of occasions, starting in 1948, further opportunities for independent Arab statehood in Palestine were lost because of a refusal to even consider whether the Jews have any right to any part of their ancient homeland; that life often entails compromise; that compromise doesn’t imply surrender; that compromise would have been preferable to endless warfare and the resulting loss of lands and freedom; that the Jews are not evil, thieving monsters. These are just a few of the many things that Arabs of the region never hear, which would have saved a lot of anguish and bloodshed.

On the other hand, because Israel’s democratic system promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press to a degree that is comparable to that in any other country in the world, there are far less salient facts about the past and the present that are hidden from Israelis, including facts that might not appeal to them. Indeed, most of the Israeli media accepts the tragedy that has befallen the Palestinian people and a vigorous ongoing national debate has been conducted for decades on the issue of whether to concede more lands and settlements to the Arabs in the cause of peace, despite the dangers inherent in further truncating the country.

Regarding suicide bombers, had they really questioned the validity of the fantastic belief that blowing themselves up in order to kill enemies of Islam would gain them immediate entry into Paradise, it is likely that many would still be alive today and so would their victims.

* * *

To a large extent, the history of all religions is a record of discord and division within each belief system and self-righteous conflict with other systems, often fueled by dogma, intolerance to other views and very unspiritual, mundane power struggles. Leaders tend to be followed blindly by their followers. The results at best are disruptive, and at worst catastrophic and murderous. Millions of people have been butchered over the centuries in the name of God, Jesus and Allah. Christians have slaughtered Muslims, as well as other Christians because they were Catholics or Protestants, Puritans, Quakers, Baptists or Mormons, while Muslims have wreaked havoc on Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Bahais, Jews and on each other for being Shi’ites or Sunnis, or even within each of these belief systems. And Christians and Muslims alike, have all from time to time, viciously directed their self-righteous bile at the Jews.

This easily-aroused tendency to slaughter other human beings in the name of the Master of the Universe continues to this day. Although for a long time now, Christians have not gone to war because of any religious injunction. Jews haven’t done so for thousands of years. Nowadays, Jews go to war, not for any religious ideal, but to defend themselves and their country. Although, both Jews and Christians, when finding themselves embroiled in war, often call upon God’s help. This might be something instinctive.

In the Muslim world however, war in the supposed service of God, has been embraced with ever-more fervor and confidence in the last few years. In various parts of the world, Muslims, in the name of Allah, launch deadly attacks, not only against soldiers, but also against ordinary civilians in the cities of Europe, America, South East Asia and of course Israel. Calling out that “Allah is great,” they even kill fellow Muslims who follow a different branch of Islam or a different leader. All this killing is acceptable in the minds of many Muslims. After all, it’s holy Jihad.

“How to Avoid Armageddon” can be ordered through Amazon.


Entry filed under: dangeous lies and halftruths, In order to survive, Inspiration, Religion and belief. Tags: , , , , , .


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