On Extremism

by Rie

This has been sitting in my head for so long it deserves three parts. Not because I have anything interesting to add to the conversation – what needs to be said has been said far more cleverly by everyone else – but because I’m trying to untangle the mess in my head.

This is a reflection, if you will. Just that.

I

I was thinking about religion. I was thinking about the absence of religion.

Atheism is a particularly easy religion. (Agnosticism even more so.) Polytheists reconcile the demands of their many gods or just pick one to keep happy. Monotheists append their God’s desires to their own, constantly trying to understand a God they see as an infinite being. Pantheists see their god in everything, one in particular seeking to unite their will with that of nature’s: their surroundings have to be righted and ordered in a universe heading toward entropy.

The fun with atheism, I must assume, is being your own god (or being able to choose from a number of less divine gods).

“Do I want to eat meat?”

“Yes. Especially pork.”

Writes in mental rule book: pork is delicious. Pork is decidedly A Good Thing.

An atheist can even decide that understanding religions is A Good Thing. He has certainly elevated himself, his god, in the eyes of his peers. He has decided that being acerbic and condescending is A Bad Thing. These points count toward him and will elevate him further in future.

And isn’t that what all religions boil down to? Deciding what constitutes good and bad?

Do you trust yourself to decide between a set of philosophies? Do you trust yourself to decide your own?

When all of that is decided, how will you choose to live the rest of your life?

II

There is religious fervor in the air.

And the fervor is fueled by a fire of a battle between gods: yours against mine. Does it naturally follow that the battle becomes one between you and I? (I have a bad habit of trying to pretend to be different people. The pronouns used might change rapidly throughout.)

I’m trying to write here what truly bothers me; I can’t pick just one sentence to distill all the restlessness in my mind. I understand being beholden to your religion but, while your other brothers and sisters cry love and mercy, why do you breathe death?

Never mind the rest of the screaming mob, if you find yourself murderous, shouldn’t you know to stop?

Why, after Charlie Hebdo, do you take to the streets yet again? Why do you set aflame other institutions of worship? Why should people be afraid that you will do more?

Why do you leave questions like: what can we do?

They insulted your religion, they are not sorry. But you kinda make me want to not be sorry either.

And I’m really good at apologising.

III

I’m now thinking of the anger emanating off the general Muslim population. In Malaysia. Which is supposedly moderate. (Some subsets anger more easily than others.)

There’s an undercurrent of paranoia in Malaysian Muslims. And it’s frightening. (The recent scandal with Korean singers. The death threats against the Muslim man who wanted to raise awareness about petting dogs.)

The deep-seated fear that we have come like thieves to steal your key to heaven.

It sounds like this: The battle has always been one for power – love and peace, be damned – for numbers and an unquestionable right to practice my faith the way I see fit. Your efforts to convert me are insidious and I must be sure to defeat them all. Here, take these words of Allah through His Holy Prophet; I will shout them at you until you bend to my will.

Which is fine, honestly. I have nothing against your religion. But I am bitter.

Maybe it’s because Malaysia is rigged to be unfair. The laws used to silence the people are not used to silence its leaders (who are tragically foot-in-mouth). The laws are selectively enforced to strengthen one religion’s position against everything and everyone else.

But, unfortunately, that is understood, too. Your voting majority is Muslim. The people who will vote for you are Muslim.

This is your culture; this is the culture you’re fighting so hard to preserve.

At least be truthful about it. Don’t make pretensions about being accepting while being clearly divisive.

It’s not doing any good, anyway.

This post isn’t doing much good to my head either. We shall be back to normal in the next post. Or until I can sort my thoughts out better. I think each part needs to be more carefully thought out and organised.

Till then.

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