France 2: Calling Muslims to denounce their faith

Yep. Religion sucks but you can’t use instances like that to ask people to stop believing in something. Well you can but it doesn’t work like that.

Saying to a religious person “seeeee, that’s what your religion or any religion does, drop it already!” right after an attack will hardly ever make them rethink their faith. It is so easy for anyone to differentiate from a crazy killer that your argument goes right over their head. It’s not “their” religion, it’s how the “others” use it. In their head their (version) of religion is about love and life and hope. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve used the same “excuses” to keep my faith. And they make all the sense in the world if you believe. It’s hard to explain why, because looking back at myself I find it hard to believe I have been so profoundly stupid but arguments and obvious truths were thrown in my face and I managed to skillfully dodge them for a very long time. So I do believe you can be a generally reasonable, educated, curious, science loving person and still totally oblivious to the facts when it comes to faith. Somehow it becomes easy to convince yourself that YOUR god is good, that your intentions are good. You are a good person after all and that proves your god is a good “person” and if people commit atrocities in his name it’s their fault, they are misguided or even do this on purpose to serve dark powers and push you away from the one true religion. Especially when you are feeling defensive already because you know a wave of hatred and negative reactions will follow the attacks.

Immigrants have to face lots of shit now. These attacks affect them greatly. Except the obvious reason, that their safety is also at stake (no, the terrorists don’t make sure there are no Muslims and/or immigrants on a scene before they start killing everyone), they have to face a backlash of distrust, fear, even contempt and in some cases aggression. “Hitting” them with the “your religion sucks” card right now is not going to suddenly bring them to enlightenment and atheism. It’s just another hit when they’re already down. I think humanists should rise above that.

I have argued with Muslims that their religion fuels hatred and promotes attacks etc. But it was at a quiet moment, when we were having a lunch break and an almost philosophical discussion about life and religion. They didn’t feel threatened by me or that I attacked them as people (at least they didn’t seem to, we continued having a very good communication for the rest of the course). It was at a moment when they could think about our conversation with a clear mind. It was not right after an attack, when they just came to a foreign country, escaping a shitty situation, almost died in the process and having no idea what tomorrow will bring.

Asking Muslims to denounce the attacks by the way is something different (I think). It sends a message to the west and east that not all Muslims are like that. Yes, “hello captain obvious!” but it is still needed apparently. Plus let’s be honest, when you are following a dogma it is good if you strongly differentiate yourself with the parts of it you don’t agree. I think Christians also did that at some point and that’s why we can speak without being burned at the stake anymore. This could be the first step for the reformation of Islam into a more tolerant religion.

France 1: Pray for Paris

As is usual in situations like this (but unusual for me in general) I didn’t know what to say. Most of the times I say nothing. I do talk about it with friends of course but I mean I write nothing about it online.

Then I read a status from Eliza, saying (in my own words) that “no comments” and “silence” etc are not really helping right now, that we “desperately need” to hear some things. I don’t know if I what I have to say needs to be heard, let alone desperately, and it’s certainly not new; many people said the same. Still, I was wondering if I should listen to Eliza and join my voice to the rest but since I avoided debates and comments so far, when I started writing I didn’t know when to stop. So good luck.

I’m not going to talk about the attacks of course. What is there to say? There is no excuse in taking someones life. No excuse. Period. That’s it.

No, I’m going to talk about the reactions of people. I saw both good and bad reactions (for my taste of course), and mostly coming from people I consider smart enough. Most of my objections concern the goal of those actions. Most people would say they wanted to help, make other people see clearer, offer a voice of reason and calmness in the chaos, get messages across etc. Many humanistic and activist reasons thrown there. Well, if that’s what you wanted and you did one or more of the following then it was probably a fail. It’s ok, no biggie, but if you really want to make a difference you might want to rethink your actions and words next time. If you just want to get out your anger and desperation, feeling of helplessness and I don’t know what else then that’s a different issue. Then go ahead, do what you do and know that these posts are not for you.

1. Pray for Paris
Or don’t pray for Paris. People would fervently suggest you should do one of the two.

Of course praying for Paris has no effect. Of course it is a bit ironic since the attacks have religious background. Of course I dislike religions more and more as years go by. Of course, if I am to be honest, I don’t give a damn about diversity in this matter and it would be ideal for me if religions just disappeared from the face of the earth (not violently, just magically somehow :p). Of course.

But come on! Maybe I’m a softy on that because I was a Christian once. But I can assure you that people who said “pray for Paris” meant well. And yes, that doesn’t mean anything, I’m the first to say intentions are generally useless if they have no results but at least if someone has good intentions (and is not totally stupid) you might be able to talk to them and find ways to make their actions more effective. Just throwing in their face now the fact that prayers are useless is useless in itself because it doesn’t accomplish anything. They will rise a wall of defenses, being hurt and thinking that they wanted to help and you accuse them for their compassion. And you swamp my feed with praying and not praying memes! Is that our point now?

And don’t get me wrong. I’d say we should criticize religion at any chance, and even bring to the attention of people who say “pray for Paris” that it’s kind of silly to say so. But find the right time to do so, not when emotions are running wild and Europe is freaking out. And it might take some attention from the actual issue at hand.

Keep in mind that for religious people their faith is the biggest sanctuary. Many people do find solace in praying for Paris. A solace that friends and family and social media cannot provide. Trying to strip that away can be traumatic anyway (for me having to stop praying was the hardest thing I had to do when I stopped identifying as a Christian), so choose to do it at a less troubled time. Again, it is meaningless but when faced with death, fear, agony, anything that can make someone feeling a bit better, a bit more safe, a bit closer to keeping their sanity is acceptable in my book. And tomorrow, when it’s all over and they can stand on their feet again we can talk about why imaginary friends don’t work and how they could really make a difference with their actions. This is an important talk that we do need to have, just not now.