The world is at war today. This is not a news flash. It’s the way things have been most days since the beginning of history.
Sometimes these wars seem to be about land or borders. Sometimes they seem to be about race or tribe. Sometimes they seem to be about color of skin or religious beliefs. Sometimes they seem to be about important matters and other times they seem to be about insignificant differences.
But the truth is that all war is about one thing, and one thing only: Someone has decided that X is right, therefore Y and anyone who believes Y is wrong.
The problem is that people who believe Y (or anything else) believe that those who believe X (or anything other than Y) are also wrong.
One of the things that I’ve learned over many years of studying a variety of subjects, including psychology and religious philosophy, is it is an unquestionable truth the human being have a compelling need to belong. It is a primal need to find our tribe, a place where we feel we are accepted and once we do, we will fight for our tribe even if it is a bat-shit crazy tribe.
It’s fascinating to me that there are people out there who claim to be of a certain religion/faith and yet they do things in the name of that faith that are massively contradictory to the teachings (and demonstrated behavior) of the prophet/leader they claim to follow.
Let me share a couple of observations with you. According to my studies, Jesus never went out and condemned people for their choices, even if they were in conflict with the Old Testament. (Remember there was no New Testament when Jesus was alive.) What’s more, if he was judgmental about anything, it was against those who condemned others for their “sins.” To quote John 8.7: “…he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” #He4She
Seems, to me that this guy would never have condemned a pro-choice woman, someone who is gay or for that matter Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or any other faith (even the ones that seem a little bat-shit crazy).
The prophet Muhammad was 25 when he married Khadija, the woman he worked for. This marriage, his first, lasted 25 years. It is said that they were both happy and monogamous. That doesn’t sound to me like someone who had a problem with women having their own independent power. He was married to that one woman until the age of 50, after which it is believed that he had multiple wives. But here’s what’s really interesting: In a culture where virginity at the time of marriage was emphasized as a tribal honor, Muhammad noted that remarriage was difficult for widows in a society that emphasized virgin marriages, yet with the exception of Aisha, he only married widows and divorced women. #He4She
Does this sound like someone who treated women as second-class citizens? Of course not! Does it sound like someone who believes that if a woman is raped, she should be thrown in jail or killed for dishonoring her family? Does this sound like someone who would carry a gun and shoot in the head a Pakistani teenager by the name of Malala because she wanted girls to go to be able to go to school? No of course not! This sounds to me like a man who had deep compassion for the women of his day.
These are just two examples of followers who seem to have abandoned what their leader/founder did and taught, yet they go out and do unspeakable things in the name of that leader.
The challenge is that these great leaders are long gone and arguments can ensue as to what they actually did and what they actually meant when they said a certain thing.
Now, let me say that you are/were extremely fortunate! Why, you may ask? Because you were born in a time when a great human being walked the earth. He was not a myth, or a legend, but a flesh and blood person who in some way touched all of us. He was able to do what he did, make the difference he made by holding true to what he “knew” to be true, and in so doing taught us all how to be better humans.
He was a man who taught us what freedom really is, what commitment really is, what honor, grace and integrity really are. No human has been a better example of “turn the other cheek.” Imprisoned by those who held him as the enemy for more than a quarter of his life, when he was free he spoke only of the unification of sides. He refused to condemn even those who would have killed him without batting an eye.
Before the world knew him as the great peacemaker, the great “Madiba,” many in the Western world including later to become Vice President Dick Chaney condemned Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. In fact, in 1986, many American congressmen voted to condemn apartheid in South Africa and call on the nation to free Nelson Mandela. But future vice president Dick Cheney was not among them. Cheney voted against the bill – America’s Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act – which passed with wide bipartisan support. Mandela was then in the 23rd year of his 27-year prison sentence.
Very few currently sitting members of Congress have said they stand by this particular vote, which is now viewed as a vote for apartheid. But Cheney said in 2000 that he stands by it entirely. “The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization,” Cheney said on ABC’s This Week. “I don’t have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.”
You can see why Mandela was outspoken about the “War on Terror” and the labeling of individuals as terrorists without due process.
Mandel’s story is far bigger than I can cover here, but what I will say is that his “long walk to freedom” came at a very high price. He had spent most his adult life treated as a “terrorist” yet very soon after he was released from the prison on Robben Island, it seems that he may have become a toothless tiger. He was no longer fighting against the antiquated apartheid regime but rather against the existing order, a system of power that had supported those who had imprisoned him. The sad thing is that in his passing we silently listen to those hypocritical leaders who once branded him a terrorist and imprisoned him pay their “respects”.
However, those who take the time to discover what was going on below the media buzz you will discover that Mandela was forced to reform from a warrior with a deep cause into a diplomat that the system controlled. Just as some worship at the feet of past prophets who have no power other than that given in their name to control others, it worth noting that the game has always been about keeping us distracted so that we don’t notice what truly matters.
I have said many times that no one is coming to save you, but you can save yourself and you can become awake enough to notice those who would control you. Let’s not have Nelson Mandela or his passing become just another distraction designed to keep us distracted, divided and weak.
We must stop the war of Right and Wrong because it is the root of all war. And when you stop for just a moment you will realize that the “right” and “wrong” you are carrying around with such fervor is not even your own. You were likely indoctrinated into adopting it. No single person, not even a returning prophet, can single-handedly change the things that really matter. We must become a tribe of Earthlings to do that.
We (Planet Earth) lost one of the truly great ones, someone who was a living, breathing example of an Authentic Leader, and yet just like other very great ones who walked the earth, he was a human being with faults and imperfections. Although we may be sad for our loss, let us celebrate that we lived in a time where true greatness, true humanity walked this same Earth with us.
Today as I reflect that 3 years ago on 5 December 2013, Nelson Mandela, the first President of South Africa, as well as the country’s first black head of state, elected in a fully representative democratic election, died at the age of 95… Let us strive to find within ourselves the truth of who we are and walk it with the commitment and integrity that Nelson Mandela did in the face of literal and political power imprisonment. And most of all let us remember that he was a warrior of peace, let us NOT take action in his name that he would not have taken.
R.I.P. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
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