Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Of War and Peace

In the war on terror we have drawn a distinction between two types of Islam.

There is the Islam of peace that is tolerant of the views of others and seeks to co-exist in harmony with them. Then there is the Islam of war that is intolerant of others and preaches that Islam is meant to conquer the world and to drive anybody who does not follow its doctrines from its society and, ultimately, from existence.

We do not treat these two types of Islam equally.

We cannot do so. One of them wants our destruction. Therefore, we take the best option available to us. We seek an alliance with the Islam of Peace against the Islam of War. We hope that all Muslims will some day come to adopt the Islam of Peace. When they do, the world will be a better place.

Islam is not the only religion in which we can make this distinction. There is also a Christianity of Peace, and a Christianity of War. We can hear the difference between them when its people speak. The Christianity of Peace speaks about helping others, bringing food and medicine and peace to those who are in need. The Christianity of War speaks of enemies to be conquered; 'liberals' and 'homosexuals' and 'atheists' who are to be driven from Christian society and, if possible, from existence.

Just as it is good policy for all decent people to seek an alliance with the Islam of Peace against the Islam of War, it is also good policy for all decent people to seek an alliance against the Christianity of Peace against the Christianity of War. Hopefully, all Christians will some day become members of the Christianity of Peace. When they do, the world will be a better place.

It is quite easy to tell one from the other.

One very useful test is this: Will this person refrain from doing things to those who do not share their beliefs what he would not tolerate those others doing to people with his beliefs? A Christian of Peace says he would. A Christian of War says, "no."

The Christian of War seeks to raise an army for capturing the political and social institutions. Once he controls them, he seeks to use his power to role over others -- those who do not share his beliefs. To the Christian of War, only those who share his beliefs are fit to be rulers. Those who do not share his beliefs are fit only to be ruled over.

On the other hand, the Christianity of Peace will say, "It does not matter which group the leaders come from. All leaders are bound by the same rules -- which prohibited them from doing to those who with different beliefs what we would not accept having their leaders do to those who share our beliefs." The Christian of War seeks to amend the Constitution so as to obtain the right of conquest over non-Christians, by bringing misery into the lives of those who do no harm to others.

This is the same test that we would use to distinguish the Islam of war from the Islam of peace. It is the same test we should use to distinguish Atheism of war and Atheism of peace -- because the distinction certainly exists there as well.

We could debate that the Christians of War are not as bad as the Muslims of War. This does not matter. The person who kills 20 neighbors cannot claim innocence on the basis that Hitler murdered over 6 million. The person who embezzles $100,000 cannot point to the person who embezzles $100,000,000 and say, "See, I did nothing wrong."

A less violent wrong is still wrong. Doctrines of conquest and domination over others are wrong. The willingness of others to do even greater wrongs is no defense.

It would do us a great deal of good for the Muslims of peace, the Christians of peace, and the Atheists of peace to accept a common principle -- not to subject the others to situations that one would not tolerate those others inflicting on us. Those who could not accept "We Trust in No God" or "In Allah We Trust" should stand against imposing on others "In God We Trust," and vice versa.

Those who unite and live by rules of this type can live in peace. And the world would be a better place.


Don Jr. said...

Nice post, Alonzo. I liked the distinction between Islam (and Christianity) of peace and of war. I think a second step to take—although I'm not suggesting that you should have taken it—would be to evaluate which view (of peace or of war) is the true view of a particular religion.

I must add: If, after evaluation, a certain religion appears to be a religion of war, that does not itself invalidate that religion, that just means that adherers of that religion cannot claim it to be a religion of peace.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

don jr.:

I suspect that you realize that I do not think three is a true view of any religion. They are all fiction. Given that, I think there is reason to encourage a fiction of peace over a fiction of war.

If a person is going to believe that there is a God that commands him to do good and will punish him if he does evil, then please also believe that 'good' comes from helping those in need, and 'evil' comes from doing harm. Do not accept the view that 'good' means doing harm to others, and 'evil' means defending those others from harm.

Don Jr. said...

Alonzo, I wasn't speaking of a true religion, but a true view of a particular religion. For instance, someone who thinks a unicorn is a monkey with a horn in its head would not have a true view of what a unicorn is, regardless of the (un)reality of unicorns.