I’m just going to say this very quickly before I move on to the post, itself. This entry is probably going to be about me sounding very naïve. For everyone who thinks that I’m some battle-axe, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but this subject hit and I had to write about it.
Last night, I began to watch the movie, Agora. I’ve had a few people recommend that I do so and so, figured, why not? It’s been on my Netflix queue for a very long while and I was bored. So, I began to watch it. It seemed a bit slow and a little weird, but I really do love Rachel Weisz, so I kept through. However, I had to shut it off after the first battle scene between the Christians and the pagans in Alexandria. I knew what would, invariably, end up happening because I know my history. The Christians win that particular battle and some time later, the city sinks into the sea. I didn’t want to see it any more.
I watched as blood was shed from one faith to the other, horrified. I know that those were the ways of men back then: religion against religion. I know that very well since, as I said, I do know a thing or two about my history. However, maybe I’ve been babied by the historical biographies about Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, who was pretty religiously tolerant. Or, maybe, I was babied by the fact that the Egyptians didn’t really give two figs who followed what religion and even, later, began collecting other religions in Egypt. Perhaps, I have been incredibly babied by the fact that after the Romans came through and put those to the sword who needed it/battled for it, then they didn’t really give a fig what you did, religiously speaking, either. Sure, they cared later, but not at the first expansions of their empire. So, in watching that scene (which wasn’t as bloody as some battle scenes I’ve watched lately), I realized that I couldn’t finish watching it.
The reason? I just can’t abide by that.
I never quite understood the whole point in having a religion that was willing to take to the sword to force others to believe the same. And in my eyes, that particular scene was all about it. Sure, the pagans got up in arms because the Christians were shitting, in effect, on the statues of their gods. They were blaspheming, in the eyes of the pagans, and the pagans had enough of that. They were going on about their One True and the pagans didn’t want to bend the knee. Eventually, they may have, but the pagans fucked up when they decided grabbing a sword was the way to go. It makes me wonder how far the pagan religion would have lasted if they had listened to Hypatia and said, “Yeah. You’re right. Fighting about it isn’t going to solve anything and only get us killed.” However, hubris was speaking in those ears as well and that’s who won that particular inner battle: hubris, ego. They were so busy believing that the gods were offended or that the gods would help them that they never bothered to stop and ask if the gods would keep them alive enough to bring the sword to every other non-believer out there. And in my eyes, the gods said, “No. This is not the way.” And maybe they watched in sorrow as their believers were butchered and tortured, or maybe they turned away. Who knows?
My fundamental issue with the Crusades is much the same as how I feel about the above battle scenes. I never agreed with it. I could understand the desire for the Promised Land, but I could never understand the need to kill so many people or force them to convert. What was the ultimate gain out of that? The Christians held the Promised Land for a hundred years or so and then, the Muslims forced them right back on out again. And we haven’t been back, except as visitors, since then. (Did you know there were nine numbered Crusades and a bunch of others all in the name of religion?) I could never understand why the Spanish Inquisition tortured so many and for what gain? To have a peaceful realm? That didn’t happen, at all, if my thoughts on that area of Europe is correct. And really, what were they hoping to gain by hurting so many other people besides hate and enmity? And this jihad that the Muslims have been fighting against us isn’t, really, religiously motivated. They say it is. They go on about how this is the way of their people, but if they attacked the United States, it was mostly because we were the “big bad” and our “Christian foundations” had little to nothing to do about it, in my opinion. (Yes, I know. Our country was not founded on a Christian basis. That’s why I said that in quotes.) All of these things to do with religion, either forcing it upon another person or just to be the only people who are religiously “right” is so utterly sad and depressing and irritating that I want to spit.
Why is it important for the message of one religion to overthrow the message of another? If the words are taken properly and put in the right place, then why do we have to fight one another? Does it truly matter so much? I understand that the Christians want to save us and whatnot, but maybe, the words they speak and believe so well are not the ones that sit right with everyone else. I understand that the Muslims want their words to be the ones, above all else, that are the proper way in religious matters. But to kill others for that belief seems to me a great folly. I mean, after all, isn’t one of those rules that everyone abides by have something to do about not killing? If that’s the case (and I’ll be frank, in the whole Islamic tradition, I honestly don’t know if they have anything like the Commandments or if, you know, they believe the Commandments), then aren’t they flying in the face of their very beliefs by killing?
In the movie, what the pagans did was wrong. They thought they could overthrow a religion that was only for “the slaves and riffraff.” (Direct quote, there.) And they were snuffed out for that audacity, only to come back alive and well thousands of years later. What the Christians did during the Crusades and every other religiously oriented battle since was wrong. They were proved wrong when they failed to take and keep the Promised Land. What the Muslims did during their jihad against the United States was wrong and, as I said, probably not very religiously motivated. But if it was, they were wrong too because this country is not the seat of Christianity anymore than England, France, Italy, or Russia are. Every country has a Christian faction of some sort (some quite different from others), but ours is overwhelming and different from person to person, not just area to area. This is wrong. This is wrong. This is wrong.
I just cannot and will not abide fighting a battle or war against other people, either of similar faith to mine or completely different, just so that someone can be “right.” We could all be right. We could all be wrong. The only thing that we should really think about more than anything else is that we are all human fucking beings and that should be what unites us instead of letting a religious message divide us.