Thursday, March 12, 2015
Language of Persuasion and Religion
Each day, there are new words for analysis by leaders of Muslim nations in which "Jihad" is promised, specifically, against the United States and its allies. The Iranian President spoke this week and even used the word "Jihad" regarding "negotiations" with the United States. In country after country, every day, non Muslims or "disobedient" Muslims are being targeted for violence. Women are a specific target. The violence has a common denominator: display.
Why such displays of violence under the banner (wording) of religion?
This short article explores how language reveals action and is a powerful predictor of violence, just as pattern is.
In some sense, everyone has a religion; that is, a belief system in which there is a 'final arbitrator' of right and wrong. This is sometimes called the "principle passion", or drive, but can basically be seen when one is faced with a major ethical decision in life and must decide: what is right, what is wrong, and why it is such. Even an avowed atheist has to discern between what is right and what is wrong, and the place of final appeal to said to be the place of "worship." If I believe in no creator, no governing deity, yet define something has "definitively wrong", (or "truthful"), I make myself the final arbitrator and my own 'god' in this sense. Even the one who says, "everyone knows this is wrong. No religion is needed!" will eventually find that the final arbitrator was "everyone", that is, "society."
I ask students, for example, if it is "wrong" for me to walk up to someone I do not know, discern by facial feature, that he is different than me, and slap him across his face.
They answer, "it is wrong."
I ask, "How do you know it is wrong?" inevitably, one says "everyone knows it is wrong. It is just wrong."
I then say that I am to understand that society, as a whole, condemns this action as being morally objectionable" to which the class agrees.
I then place myself in 1938 Nazi Germany and the victim is a Jew and by and large, society has accepted not only this slap, but for me to take the Jew's possessions, as well.
In the very least, this is done to make them think: We do that which we believe; we articulate that which we believe.
When someone says, as an atheist, "It's wrong. You should treat them as you want to be treated. Everyone knows that", they are, perhaps unaware, borrowing an ethical code from Christianity.
History of how man thinks, and what society has done with what one thinks, is a powerful tool.
Racist taunts of blacks in America mocked African culture as blacks sold blacks into slavery and African culture, during the time of exploration and slavery, was, village by village, marked by slavery and cannibalism with villages thought to be up to 70% enslaved, according to European explorers. This argument is used by racists to call the Negro race "inferior."
Historically, the same racist can be asked, "Where did your people come from?" and, inevitably, historical roots can be explored and traced with evidence of...
slavery, cannibalism, violence, and injustice in every land known to mankind.
It was in this violent, dark world that mono-theism arose and "an eye for an eye" limited retributions and "Thou shalt not" was born. This influence, beginning in ancient Israel, spread, sometimes through Israeli slaves in foreign lands.
There was a great line in the movie "Gladiator" in which the main character (I know, I know, a 'modern movie' and not one from the 1930's) is out on wars of conquest for "the glory of Rome" when he says "I have seen the rest of the world. It is darkness. Rome is the light."
Historically, this was a accurate line because it was, by and large, true, including the land where my roots were found: Ireland.
As we watched the "light" of Rome in "Gladiator", we are horrified by violence in its society, including the gladiator sport fighting.
All of our roots can be traced back to violence.
So when one wishes to denigrate a particular race as inferior, one needs only to learn their own history to know that the world, over thousands of years, has come from very similar beginnings.
To understand what one does, we listen to what one says. This is evident in the intent to deceive: we look into the words to see what is intended.
Religion has caused great change in the world. What were these religious beliefs that changed the world?
This becomes easier to discern when the words are written.
We do what we believe.
We can look at the "words" of religion, that is, the principle teachings, and then look at the precedent set by those who followed these "words."
We then can understand the language of persuasion versus the language of coercion.
There were three major religions that formulated and impacted the world:
Eschatology, or "Future" beliefs.
The words behind each religion tells us the history. We do that which we believe, and societies (plural) have been impacted by those who acted upon what they believed.
Fortunately for us, these "words" are recorded even when history's writers wish to portray otherwise.
All three major religions speak of reaching the world.
I. Judaism had the claim to be a "light to the Gentiles" or a "light to the nations" while seeking to remain pure from external influences such as the ancient world's history of human sacrifices, in particular, as human sacrifice as a religion was common. From the beginning of Judaism, we were given:
The Ten Commandments, or the "thou shalt nots", forbidding certain behavior.
Judaism did not take the call to be the "light to the Gentiles" with much conviction. It spread slowly and lightly, and often, as was the case in Rome, through slavery.
The lack of zeal within Judaism to spread itself has been throughout history and evidenced in the first century where Christ, entering the temple, found the "court of the Gentiles" had become a flea market. The specific location where non Jews (Gentiles) were permitted to hear the Torah was trampled by the buying and selling, which Christ then is recorded to have taken some leather cords and flip over the tables and drive out the sellers.
After the diaspora, Jews were known to be secluded in many societies, which, given human nature, bred fear and distrust, and claims of "hoarding" of money, such as "Jews only hire Jews" and eventually, the Nazi party's claim that "Jews were behind the Treaty of Versaille", which laid a yoke upon Germany that would bring about the second world war.
Put yourself in the shoes of the Jews. As their nation was destroyed over a period of years by Titus, Josephus described the landscape of crucifixes, the instrument of Roman cruelty, to be as far as the eye could see, as if they were trees growing from the ground. The siege of Jerusalem was so severe that starvation led to madness which led to the eating of their own children, and their temple destroyed.
As Jews went from land to land, they brought with them their specific monotheistic beliefs and placed strong emphasis upon education of their children. Some assimilated more than others, which is why many Jews refused to leave Nazi Germany when they had the chance. We hear, even today, documentaries where they are heard saying, "But we were Germans! We fought for Germany in the Great War!"
They did not take seriously the words of the National Socialists, who's threats were made against worldwide Jewry.
Judiasm has not been known to go "door to door" to make converts, yet has historically welcomed converts, particularly post 1948, back to Israel.
Herein is the key for the article: Judaism is a "persuasive religion."
Judaism is a "persuasive religion", that is, one in which others are verbally and/or visibly persuaded to accept its teachings, including the many "thou shalt nots" in society.
Although some have masked themselves in religion in order to conduct war, Judaism does not teach conquest by violence, therefore, it does not have a history of such. Old Testament war references (Joshua) were specific to time, tribe and locale. Jews did not, either by precept or precedent, claim to have a right to conduct warfare of expansion, in writing, or history. They do not seek to expand by coercion.
Christianity is a persuasive religion.
Christianity, in both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, is also a "persuasive religion", where "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is used to persuade others to become followers. This is the basic teaching and basic history. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" joined to the "thou shalt nots", as Christianity expressed itself as a fulfillment of Judaism's beliefs and promises.
Though smaller sects have taught contrary, the major teaching of Judaism and Christianity about the future of the world is ancient: "unto a thousand generations" will eventually come peace and prosperity where "the lion lays down with the lamb" and that military technology will eventually be used in agricultural advances with "they shall beat their spears into plowshares" embraced as promises.
The exception is the "end timers", "preppers", or others, considered generally, "dispensationalists" who, since the late 1970's, have gotten a great deal of press, though in number, are small. Hal Lindsey's "Late Great Planet Earth" was a huge seller, and the predictions (I've analyzed them here in the blog) from Harold Camping "broke rank" due to his historic protestant background.
To date, none of the predictions has come to pass.
As to a reminder that "people do what they believe", I spoke to people who had sold their homes and quit their jobs believing the end had come. (1994). Some were highly intelligent and none (that I either spoke to, or knew of) were impoverished. They even used the sale of items to fund the purchase of billboards across the country. This expression of freedom was met with derision or curiosity, for the most part. Being ridiculed is part of what we accept as those who cherish freedom. What one may hold sacred, another mocks. In the USA historically, this has always been accepted. In whatever position, the "unpersuaded" are free to not believe, as much as the "persuaded" are free to sell their homes. I tried to persuade some against this, but still had to respect their freedom.
Judaism and Christianity are, therefore, "progressive" religions; that is, they seek to better the world through progress, overall, and they are "persuasive" religions.
The reason I use "overall" is that there are small minorities that do not seek progression, such as Amish and various similar types. They reject the progression of culture, yet it is not something "in writing", that is, something found in Torah or Bible. As a small percentage, we are reminded:
Principle is not built upon exception.
In lands where Judaism and Christianity took root (that is, became generally populous) were the lands where democracy arose, and agriculture expanded, and society grew.
This became known as "the West", or "Western civilization."
Judaism and Christianity, in its core writings, are religions of "persuasion."
The attempt to persuade comes from words; that is, the "holy" (meaning 'separate') books, or writings: The Bible (Talmud) so that it is in writing, which leaves expectations as visible.
You and I are free to be persuaded or not to be persuaded.
The language is plain enough that you may make an informed decision, and have the freedom to disagree without consequence to you, or your family. Lawmakers had this in mind prohibiting government from mandating any religious worship from its citizens in America.
Islam, however, is a very different religion, from the perspective of "words", that is, the language believed, in writing, and taught. This is the book known as the "Koran."
In Islam, the notion of persuasion is absent, or foreign.
Islam is a religion of coercion, and not of persuasion.
Question: How do we know that Islam is a religion of coercion?
Answer: By its words, found in written form.
The teaching of Islam from the Koran is "order" and "submission", hence the description of a "static" religion, that is, one not moving forward, or being "progressive" in society.
The "West" has the "outworking" of its teaching including art, education, music, theater, agricultural advances, scientific advances, exploration, and so on. This is consistent with the religious belief that the world began as a "garden" and the command to "dress and keep it", including conservation, ends with a "garden city" description. The age of exploration was to spread its persuasion. We do what we believe.
In all manner, mankind has done evil in the name of religion, often as a cover for greed, but it is only Islam that teaches explicitly: Conquest by coercion.
The Koran teaches coercion and "spectacular" deaths; that is the written basis for terrorism. To condemn Islamic terrorism is to publicly criticize Mohammad. This is why when the call is given for "moderate Muslims to condemn the terrorism", there is a lack of response.
Specifically, the Koran teaches:
1. Conquest by coercion not persuasion.
2. Heavenly reward through violence. This is where one is promised after-life sensuality for the 'spectacular' killing of an 'infidel', or a woman dying in childbirth. Hence, the low view of women begins and what we call "terror", Islam calls "display" and "spectacular cruelty" (in English) so that the non Muslim will take notice, which will cause them to yield, and to pay 'tribute' or tax.
This leads to the tearing down education, specifically that of women as well as the targeting of homosexuals as seen recently. To a "moderate Muslim" condemnation of this, we have the words of Mohammad:
"Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Lot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done."
To condemn this is to condemn Mohammad. Hence, the silence.
The depth of religious belief.
How deep does a religious belief go?
Look no further than the Christians under Nero who chose death by violence rather than denial of their beliefs. It is deep, and it is powerful.
This is what gives humans the ability to go so far, for example, as to be a child, and pull a gun at point blank range upon another human as we saw recently via video. Or, the lighting of fire of one video taped recently, or the spate of daily video releases including beheading by small knife, or the photo of the gay man thrown to his death.
These are not simply coming from one locale.
What is the impetus for such barbaric cruelty as lighting one on fire, while alive, while video taping it for the world to see, or to use a small knife to brutally behead one for the video?
It is a deep seated, religious and 'sacred' belief that what they are doing is commanded in the Koran, practiced in history (precedent) and expected by the Muslim community.
Could you take a kitchen knife and tear away at the neck of an unarmed man, kneeling before you?
To do so, in our society, we believe one must be sociopathic, mentally ill, beyond human reason and, in short, "sick" in order to do what we are seeing done on a regular basis.
We do not grasp that religious belief, itself, is deeply embedded within the mind, as something that is above average human behavior.
Religious belief is powerful.
What is the religious belief that is so powerful as to cause Muslims to do all forms of violent murder in cold blood?
I asked before if you were capable of cutting the throat of another. The setting is important. In "hot blood", you are likely capable of lots of violence if the circumstance was set where your own child, for example, was in danger. As a parent, you are likely capable of all sorts of violence in the name of protecting your child.
It is, however, in cold blood, that is, in a setting to which you must not "react", but "act" and this action will be most inhuman, therefore, careful training is necessary. This is why, in warfare, men have to be trained to kill. We underestimated the Japanese belief about death, early in World War II, and projected our mentality towards them, when we surrendered our troops only to have death marches, and be-headings, where photos became popular in Japan, much like kids in the US loved baseball cards. The brutality stunned the Americans who responded, as humans do, in kind.
Also in World War II, the suicide rate among German soldiers who were tasked with "special actions", that is, murdering unarmed non-combatents (Jews) was high. Even for soldiers, trained to kill, many killed themselves after killing unarmed men, women and children. Others, deeply engrained in Nazi belief, which is now, in documentaries, rightfully called "religious belief" (Nazi ideology was, in deed, religious in nature) and it needed to be given to children ("Hitler Youth") with lots of propaganda against Jews, in order to get them to wipe out the Jewish race.
It was not a 'natural' act to kill in cold blood in Western mindset. It was a shock to the system.
For Muslims, the sacred book of the Koran teaches that Islam is spread in this manner, and that the death must be in such a manner as to gain as much attention as possible, and that specific reward awaits the killers, specifically for their actions. This is without respect to class, finance, or nationality, or race.
It is not about finance but about religious conviction.
"Islam is a religion of peace" is an "unnecessary sentence" making it "doubly important" in Statemet Analysis. Muslims, forbidden to lie to Muslims, will not make this statement, but they will make it to "infidels", that is, non-Muslims, or non-practicing Muslims.
The history of Islam is a history of violence because it is prescriptive violence and not the acts of a madman seeking to conquer, using religion to cover up murder.
As the Egyptian Christians were recently killed in the name of "Allah", with crosses, we were told "it had nothing to do with religion."
Propaganda tells us: "You did not see what your eyes saw. You did not hear what your ears heard. See and Hear what I tell you."
As the violence is prescriptive violence based upon a coercive religion, one must carefully consider what this means to arm those who have a static worldview for the future.
People may kill in the name of their nation, their nationality, their specific cause, their race, their religion, and so on. To do so is to do so against the written wording of their religion, except for those who hold to the Koran.
The Koran calls for expansive conquest by violence, specifically, and the obedient followers of the Koran have obeyed its calls historically and in our day.
Violence is often preceded by words, by individuals, and by organizations.
In Islam we must note that only the "disobedient" will refuse violence, which, as a refusal, takes several forms:
a. One may not want to be the violent person but...
b. the same one may not want to condemn the violence as to condemn violence is to condemn the Koran and oppose the words of Mohammad.
This goes not only historically, but even in the realm of domestic violence towards women and the denial of educational rights.
Words of violence precede violence.
Here, we must grasp not only the prescriptive violence, but the coercive nature of Islam, and make some difficult decisions on how to protect our society which has always sought to tolerate opposing view points in life.
Next up: How to screen for violence in employment interviews, particularly when employees work with people at risk, including children, the elderly, and those less capable of self protection.