Religion versus Religion

As modern history has shown us, the culmination or end stage of the monumental failures stemming from a combination of ethnocentrism, hubris, censorship and intransigence towards other people’s beliefs and ideas, and an attitude and mindset based on colonial, imperialistic, and hegemonic discourse is the scapegoating of Jews, Muslims, as well as other minority groups and people of color. And in order to prevent a repeat of history, one must identify the causes and factors which have led to a situation which could in fact cause or trigger a relapse into the well-known episodes of war and social strife that previous generations have experienced in the not-too distant past. After all, the relative peace and stability of the international order which the world has become accustomed to since the end of World War II has not even lasted eight decades yet. And when you take into account the last two decades of hegemonic warfare emanating out of Washington, it took less than a generation for someone to jeopardize a fragile peace.

Moreover, to understand social order as well as its breakdown, one must first understand the basic elements or principles of sociology. After all, sociology is the “father of the social sciences,” as argued by the 20th century Franco-Iranian philosopher and scholar Ali Shariati. One can argue that social order translates into global order in this day and age, given that society now assumes a global and international scope as a result of globalization and technology. Now, what goes on in a society on one side of the planet can directly and instantaneously affect what is going on in a society on the opposite side of the planet.

And as Ali Shariati wrote, there are four basic elements or principles in the area or field of sociology. For one, there is the issue of how a society relates to God. Second, there is the nature of the laws in a society. Third, there is the nature of the celebrities and leaders in a society. And fourth, there is the issue of how regular people are faring in a society. And despite the hierarchy of both knowledge and laws, the morally sound thing to do and the logical thing to do would be to allow people to freely subscribe to their beliefs and ideas and to voice them freely, regardless of how flawed their beliefs, ideas, or logic are, as long as their beliefs, ideas, and logic are being voiced in a civil or peaceful manner.

Arguably, what makes a situation tense and volatile is the fact that very minute and narrow points and extremely delicate and nuanced issues that are philosophical, theological, and theoretical in nature such as the issue of whether “divine attributes” and divine “essence” are “transcendent” or “immanent,” or the issue of whether God could have ever been incarnated into human form can essentially make or break the “big picture” per se. Yet, despite the sensitivity and emotional volatility surrounding such beliefs, ideas, and issues, the right thing to do would be to allow people to freely choose their beliefs and ideas and to allow people to arrive at their own logical and rational conclusions regarding such matters, without fear of incrimination or punishment, all while affording people dignity and respect throughout the whole process.

Plus, the more civilized dialogue and exchange of beliefs and ideas there is, the likelier it is that the interests of different individuals and groups will eventually converge with one another. To look beyond the current turbulence and volatility is to take into account the possibility that the interests of what are seemingly irreconcilable groups and individuals can actually converge in the future. As “Game Theory” contends, the entire goal or objective of it all is to turn a “no-win situation” into something that is mutually beneficial for everyone. Thus, the “course of action” and “moves” every single person in the world makes is far from insignificant.

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