This I Believe

Melissa - 98027, Washington
Entered on January 24, 2008

Religion and politics mix like pregnancy and alcohol.

Religion forms a second family, who care comfort and coddle each other. It protects and shelters it flock. It makes an ‘us’ to the worlds ‘them’. From my steely-gray haired neighbor, eyes glittering as she talks about her wonderful church and reaches for the morning paper; to the middle age Palestinian, layering the posters of the martyr. Religion binds, defines and divides them. Intolerant of tolerance, justifying the inconceivable.

Politics bicker, squabble and then improve the world, one fight at a time. All the other weapons in politics’ bag can be fought. Twisted emotions with reason, intolerance with experience, national pride with disillusionment. But the final trick pulled out of Pandora’s Box is impossible to fight, impossible to ignore, impossible to compromise with. Centuries of weight added their mass as religion forms the individuals into a seething mob to be pointed by a quick footed politician at whichever enemy of god they are fighting this week. Arguments go unspoken as none can argue with this new will of god, least he come for revenge in the form of once beloved neighbors and friends, daughters and sons.

But a promise of an afterlife is no reason to waste lives. If war and death must come, then it’s better if its over fishing rights, an assassination or oil then over religion. Compromises can be made, apologies can be accepted. But an insult to a people faith will never be forgiven; a compromise will never be reached. One war may end but it is only a cease-fire, for a year or a matter of years while the next generation grows up to refill the ranks. More graves will be dug, more prayers will be uttered and more revenge will be plotted.

I believe in politics, if used correctly, to lead to a better nation. But as long as democracy continues to muddle in and be muddled in by religion, It will always be tied up in religions never ending conflicts and absolute certainty that there is a ‘right’ way to do things. No one is always right. An omnipotent word, with all of it’s comforting certainty, is not part of democracy. Democracy is a process of governing centered around conflict and strife. In democracy, no one can ever be ‘right’ by virtue of being.

A dictator is always ‘right’.

A tyrant is always ‘right’