Rethinking Religion and Its Relevance in the Now

Hope, is not something innate. At least, I don’t believe so. Not like love or fear, I don’t think that we have hope when we were born. I don’t think we are even capable of expecting something really. I mean, literally,  we can’t even see back then. Let alone to hope for something that we don’t understand yet.

We learn hope. By interacting with our surroundings, with the people around us, we learn this humane trait of hope. Be it from being introduced into this dream of being a fireman, astronaut or Richie rich. Or even from something as simple as getting a new bike, because you just got good scores in our school report. This notions of winning something that we set a target for, that created hope. We were trained to hope.

Back in 2012, I spent almost 3 weeks in Cambodia volunteering at an orphanage. It was a fairly normal experience, life changing of course, but for a voluntary mission, it was fairly regular. There, I had to paint a classroom, teach English, treat kids hairs for lice, nail bamboos to make a floor for a simple house, those sorts of things.

The kids was of course very grateful and charming. They were all really sweet and full of smiles, different from the kids here in Jakarta (you know what I mean, those little bastards have had it coming), and they were all really discipline in their way. They would always clean whatever they used, they would help each other out, they would finish their homework and they would pray.

Now, this particular orphanage is run by a christian organisation. The guy that brought me there, which was a really inspiring teacher of mine, is a christian priest.

In the end of our mission, they held a service for us and prayed not only for their own blessings, but also for ours, who volunteered there for a week or so. These orphans, who doesn’t have a family apart from each other looked really happy at that time. They played music, they danced, they joke around and most importantly they smiled. Not the kind of smile when somebody open the door for us, not even the kind of smile when you finally got that amazon package we were waiting for. But a real genuine one. A big happy face smile.

These kids, who were not born into a family. Who lived in a country, that (only just around 10 years before) was massacred, tortured and enslaved. These kids who are supposed to hate the world for the unfairness that they are facing. These kids that could never dream of having a happy meal, while on the other side of the world, that very food was being thrown away just because they already got the toys. These kids can genuinely smile.

But how can they smile with their predicament? How can they smile when I can’t even smile that way, and I have all the privileges in the world of being a normal kid.

I asked that question every day after I got home from that mission. Until one day it hit me. They had hope. Their religion gave them hope.

They don’t need money, or new bikes or anything to give them a sense of hope, because in their mind (and heart) they have their God to wait for. They have their heaven to be hoping for. And that may just be enough to keep them happy everyday, knowing that they belong to the same heaven as anyone who may have more things that they have.

I am not a religious person myself. I was quite an avid prayer because of my mom when I was a kid, but now I rarely go to church or even pray. I pray for my food because it has become an involuntary habit, but other than that, as far as your concern, I’m the devil.

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But I am always fascinated by religion and how it affects people. Be it in a large group, small group or even in an individual level.

The laws of religion has rarely changed, but the way people interact with it, is very unique. I never think of religion as a problem or a solution. I always think of it as a way of life and a guidance to help you take your steps. You don’t necessarily need it, but some people prefer to have it anyway.

And for so long, this guidance has never change whatsoever. It has never made any attempt to adjust itself to be more relevant to the age that they are living in. That’s why you can always see conflicts like the blasphemy case in Jakarta every now and then. Be it with Gus Dur, Ahok or anyone that has not follow the guidance as is really. And that’s why (partly) we have terror groups and racism.

Yet, once or twice, you see figures like the Dalai Lama or Pope Francis saying something really far from the normal things that the guidance would say and it makes you wonder.

Just recently, Pope Francis hinted that He might be okay with married Priest in the catholic church. This is huge, considering that for the past 2000 years that this religion exist, this rule has always been there and is seen as one of the most important ones. Yet, with decreasing numbers of priests and followers, and with the changing nature of our society along with the ever-moving time, these supposedly stubborn guidance has showed its willingness to adapt. I mean the pope has an Instagram, if that’s not enough proof.

Does this mean religion is cool? I still don’t think so. I think religion is a personal experience, and whether we choose to follow a certain religion or not is totally an individual call. It has shown its ugly sides, yes, but it has also shown its willingness to adapt and to be more than just an archaic novelty from the past. It is with no doubt an important part for a lot of people’s life, and a source of annoyance for many others. But I think religion serves a certain purpose in life, and while its function might not be the same along the time, I think it is wrong to disregard it entirely.

For more than 2000 years, we’ve gotten used to a certain role of religion, when I think that role is overdue for a change. Its governance was a fit for the roman empire, but its old value needs to be adapted into a more open value that our society have already attain. Otherwise, the hope that a lot of people have, will only turn into terror, hatred and fear.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind – AE

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Rethinking Tolerance: Blasphemy and Why Minorities Should Just Give Up

In about a month, I would’ve been here in Jakarta for 2 whole year. This strange, dingy, chaotic city is now my home. I’ll have to admit, the challenges of adjusting to life here, are humongous. The piercing and yet humid afternoon sun that never seem to help your skin decide whether you’re too hot or getting a cold because of the sweats. The long, long, long queues of cars along the street, waiting for a wealthier, taller black SUV’s cutting the proletarian’s road miles ahead creating bottle necks. The smell of clove cigarettes, combined with the smoke your everyday motorbikes produce. The mysterious figure you can’t see the first time you’re trying to park your car, but is always there to pickup that leftover coins of yours somehow.

This city, it is a place worthy to be called jungle. Hell jungle is worthy to be called this city. Bottom line is, this city is a tough place to adjust to.

Yet, those inconvenience hasn’t really lived up to its dark reputation for me. In fact, I think those things has made this city become more exotic somehow. It gives it identity that separates it, even from the most livable city in the world. It has a very, very unique identity. It’s the homeless guy that always smiles, sitting besides his dog just north of Swanston street every day. He has a rather charming character isn’t he?

What I find challenging here in the city, has instead been the tolerance of its people.

Let me explain.

It is indeed very moving and beautiful, the first time you step into this city, where a majority of Muslim can live side by side by side with each other without seemingly any problem with other race or religion. Nobody have ever asked for my religion, nobody threw a spoon at me when I pray for my food in front of them, and nobody ever make a big fuss when I eat my lunch during a fasting period at the office.

Until you pay attention a little bit more to the people.

You see, maybe I live in this city during the wrong period of time. Like it or not, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama’s (Ahok) blasphemy case has had its polarizing effects toward this society. His Alleged misappropriation of Al Maidah 51 has brought a lot of unintended consequences, not only for himself but more towards the fabric of our society and how it interacts with each other. Suddenly, race and religion becomes even more important. Suddenly, common sense is abandoned.

Until I thought back to the past 23 months I’ve been living in the city. During this period, I’ve lived in two different places, both of them very near a mosque (unless you live in an apartment, I don’t think there’s such a place far from a mosque in Jakarta these days). 5 times a day, light or dark, they will sound the speaker to remind everybody (that includes me) to pray. Of course I don’t pray the same way, but that’s fine by me I thought. As long as they don’t force me to do so.

And then you see the road you usually go through everyday is closed on Friday afternoon. People are praying on the street weekly, and it is not uncommon for them to close the road so that people don’t pass and disturb their rituals. But I guess my church back in Jogja also do that every weekend, so who am I to complain?

After all, people here think it’s okay to close the road for any personal reason anyway.

But those things, those are just minor everyday routine that I find and I don’t mind.

So why am I making a fuss then? Why can’t I just adjust to this place?

Truth be told, I was about to. I started to feel comfortable living here in the city, right until the moment that blasphemy case started.

Suddenly, I see my neighbor differently. Suddenly I see my colleagues differently.

There was one moment, where I saw somebody I knew, posted the 411 movement on her social media. On it, she posted the sea of people flooding Monumen Nasional for the blasphemy case. Asking the government to prosecute Ahok, using banners with unkind words such as kill him! Kafir! And Pigs! (what they usually call Indonesian born Chinese). On it, she wrote “how beautiful it was” or something along that line. I get that She was referring to the love people have to their religion. But her failure to understand the context was the thing that worries me the most.

Since then, this movement that supposedly ‘defend’ Islam continues on and changes its form along the way to ‘defend’ ulama and finally to “choose a Muslim leader”. It has turned itself from a religious movement into a political propaganda.

All this, to be honest, wouldn’t be a problem for me if I don’t know these people. I thought having an okay job at an okay office would guarantee me a reasonably educated friends. And that is what I got really. Yet, they can still ‘double think’ and thought that whatever the 411 and other movements was, it was justified.

They are willing to get behind, or at least to not condemn somebody who’s been hiding behind religion to spread hatred and ostracize the minority. They are angry at Ahok for citing Al Maidah 51- even though he was (in my opinion) justifiably worried that people won’t accept his program to help empower them because people are using that verse to black campaign against him- yet, they are willing to march on the street and campaign against him using that very verse. Justifying his worries.

All that made me realize. That me, as a minority, I don’t belong here. At least not if I want to stand up for myself. Because If I want to live here, I have to continue respecting the mosque speaker and the roadblocks. Because if I want to live here, I have to accept that tolerance in this country, means that the minority have to stay silent and pave ways to the majority. So they can do whatever they want to.

This sadly, has become or has always been (without us realizing it) the norm here. Here, in a city where most malls accept any kind of clothes as appropriate. Yet at the same time, just minutes behind that very mall, people find it okay to blame victims of sexual abuse for wearing a “sexy” clothes. Why wear a revealing sinful clothes at the first place? They said. It’s not my fault that she made me horny! They said.

 

4th November Protest: We Are the One to be Blamed

There are 6500 spoken languages in the world. I think none of them can describe how I am feeling right now. Anger, sadness, confusion, frustration, all mixed up together in response to what happened on the night of 4th November. A night that many claims to be the day to protect Islam’s dignity in Indonesia. A night many others would remember as the night, of uncontrollable mess that started by merely a scandal.

The day started just fine for me. The noise of kids around my house woke me up, together with the sound of my phone alarm. I wasn’t expecting much that day. The only thing I expected was that, that night, it’s going to be a long one.

With all the fuss about the big protest coming at the heart of the city. I wasn’t expecting much would happened around me. I lived quite far away anyway.

Just when I started opening my emails to check on some spams, a plastic ball hit my bedroom door. My computer sits just behind it, with a curtain covering it from the glass window, so I could hear it quite clearly.

I startled, but it happened before, so I just put on “Top gear” so that I can hear Jeremy Clarkson’s voice on the background instead of those noisy kids.

I had just opened my bedroom door, readying myself to cook for my breakfast, when those kids started knocking at my front door, playing pranks for their afternoon entertainment, as if their noisy little soccer game just a meter away from my bedroom was not enough.

I ignored it. I started cooking, by  taking some water to boil for the noodle. Then from behind the curtain, I saw this one kid just casually walked into my front door and started knocking. “Assalamualaikum” He yelled before he started running away for cover.

So I waited behind the curtain, to see who’s been annoying me all morning. Then I saw two different kids approaching my front door. And just before they knock, I kicked my door. They startled, and ran away.

I felt so guilty. Just then, I caved in and turned myself into a 10 year old boy.

Just before you know it, they started banging my door using a rock. I ignored it. They stopped.

Just before I open the door to leave for work, I saw them again gathering. Only to ran away when they hear my key behind the door.

They kept running away and hiding behind walls and fences as if their big plan was discovered too soon.

I stopped and hopped off my motorbike. I waved my hand to call them over. I wanted to ask what they want, but they kept hiding. So I took off.

That’s how my morning started.

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So it became no surprise for me, when the same society that raised those kids, casually burned 2 police cars and raided 2 mini markets during the night of 4th November. And that’s only small pictures of what actually happened that night.

So it became no surprise for me, when the “peaceful protest” to “defend Islam” became violent and turned into a familiar form of ostracism by the Indonesia majority.

Young kids, not even 10 years older than those kids who threw rock at my front door, were yelling death threats, flipping the finger to the media, threw rocks at the police, and burnt police cars. All in the name of defending Islam.

I however, refuses to blame the religion. Nor will I blame the people who does whatever it is that they did. Misconception, misunderstanding, arrogance and ignorance has become the main identity of this country. All blanketed upon the notion of freedom and democracy.

Without realizing the politics behind their acts. Without understanding the core of the problem. We, as a society, has assumed upon something and acted upon it without thinking about it.

We kept telling lies to ourselves that all this wasn’t what we wanted. That we don’t want to degrade ourselves to their level, that all this started because of some idiots, not us.

But seeing those idiots burning those cars felt good ain’t it? Because when I kicked that door, it felt good.

Because we know that we are indeed smarter than them. Because we’ve proven that it’s not us the problem, it’s them.

We point fingers towards this problem from weeks ago, and hided behind the walls like kids. We did not address it, we encourage it by feeding into their angers. We threw oil into the flames.

You know most of us can’t vote for him. You know most of us won’t even be affected by his reign.

We backed him because he is a minority. We backed him not because of his brilliance, but because he represent the hope of diversity. And yet, we campaigned as if his leadership will lead into the death of their arrogance. Even thought deep inside, we know it’s not going to.

You know today I have to let go of the anarchy. I was instructed not to report about the chaos. Not to report the violence because the people might not like it. I was censored. Not only by the broadcasting bureau, but also by viewers.

You know we have viewers who insisted, that whatever happened on the night of 4th November, was a noble quest to protect Islam.

We are a country that is corrupted by religion. And yet, we fed on that arrogance. We shout onto it.

We were bullied, and instead of leaving them, we fought back. Even though they are million times the size of us.

Sometimes I wanted to just run. Sometimes I gave hope to the fight.

But today. Today I tried to fight and I felt like I’m childish. Today I tried to fight, and I was instantly reminded, that it had no use.

So let’s just stop hoping. Let’s just let the Indonesian be the country that they wanted.

Let us gave up on the unity in diversity. Cause let’s face it, such things will only crumble. Such things will only forever be a slogan.

 

Tolerance

If you are not friends with the regular, middle to lower class Indonesian, or if you are completely oblivious about whatever happens in Indonesia, then the name Saeni might just be a villager’s name for you. But for an average Indonesian, that name right now, represents everything that is wrong and everything that is promising about Indonesia.

A conservative, thick, stubborn country that is slowly moving forward.

The word tolerance and Indonesia who are supposedly goes inline, has never been so far away from each other with the holy month for the biggest Muslim country in the world still on its way.

To give you a little recap, Saeni was raided by civil service police unit (Satpol PP), for opening her little shop (warung) during the day, while most of the Muslims in the country are fasting. Apparently, the regional government for her area (Serang, Banten) has issued a temporary regulation that restrict shop owners from selling food during the day, because it would distract the Muslims from fasting.

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Using tolerance as an excuse, the regional government enforces the regulation by seizing foods , stalls and other shop facilities, accusing them of not being respectful towards Muslims who are doing their religious rituals.

Whether what they’ve done is right or not, whether being the biggest Muslim country in the world is enough to justify that or not, is frankly up to your own judgement. As because religion is a very personal thing for me, and to understand its teaching and embrace it, as far as I can understand, will always differ from one person to another. Although, the word tolerance shouldn’t be different, shouldn’t it?

Anyhow, what I would like to emphasize instead is on how people react towards it.

Being viral, Saeni’s story has of course attracts a lot of sympathies. Since the story broke, about $20.000 (an amount of money that of course exceeds her needs) has been raised to help payback for the money that she used to buy ingredients for food later wasted by the civil service police unit. A reminder that some people do embrace differences, and see respects not only as acknowledgements of one’s existence, but also an acknowledgements of different values and beliefs.

On the other hand, we have bunch (and this is sadly the majority of the Indonesian people) who can relate more towards the civil service polices, who sees Saeni’s decision as disrespectful, and condones other religion that visibly eats in front of them as being intolerant.

Now I don’t think I have to explain my definition of tolerance to you. There’s a reason why I write my entries in English, and that very reason should also be relevant to the kind of reader that I am writing to (if there are any).

Anyway, like it or not, although as a country we have seen some good progress moving forwards (With new infrastructures being build inside and outside Java, with better public leaders, with increasingly educated middle class). We are still yet to see Indonesia as a country moving forward socially and intellectually.

Out education system is very outdated, poorly standardized, and underfunded, that we have a very different standards of education and basic general knowledge from one city to another. The only standard thing that most people can get almost anywhere in Indonesia is religious knowledge. And that is mainly Muslim. Of course it shouldn’t be strange, when the country have an entire ministry devoted basically just for one religion’s ritual (Haj).

Compared to other countries that has taken religion out from their curriculum, and instead put their effort on science, history, literature and culture; It is fair to say that Indonesia as a society relies more on “biased religion-based judgement” than basic humane and social value.

So it is only understandable that we have a really visible extremes that contradicts each other, living in a well juxtaposition, with bits of sparks every once and a while. Of course, if history ever teach us anything, the extremes are, more often than not, wrong, and the middle way is always the best bet for the society.

Balancing those extremes then, is (for me) the biggest task that the government should immediately tackle, through good education system and unbiased regulation that doesn’t take specific religion into account.

Yes, infrastructure and healthy economy are important for a country. But as a society that consists of hundreds if not thousands of different ethnicity, Indonesia needs to learn how to handle conflict sober-mindedly by choosing what’s best for the society, not for specific person or groups. And that might only be achievable, through a good education system.

What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature. – Voltaire

Toleransi

Bhineka Tunggal Ika, perhaps the only value that can still somehow keep Indonesia whole.

Religious, racial and intercultural tolerance, is the thing that is somehow always been boasted by a lot of Indonesian as one of our “best value”. With more than 5 religion living together despite of being the biggest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia still managed to accept a Chinese-blooded minority as a governor for their capital city. And he is not the only person holding important position in a governmental level.

A good encouragement of course, especially in the age of intolerance where every prejudice has somehow come true for the sake of mutual hatred. Where the Europeans have sadly been proven right about not accepting refugees, because the terror level there (at least according to media) has allegedly increased.

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Anyway, back to Indonesia.

Coming into the first day of Ramadan, A.K.A the most important day for Muslims, I start to questions these brags of Indonesia being tolerance. Not that I was abused for being a minority or anything, but I think our standard of what we call “respecting others” is lower than others out there.

I mean yes, I can go to church peacefully every Sunday, or even during my “big days”. But what they’ve done is simply not protesting or acting against us. Or put it simply, they’ve just basically ignore us. Some people may say that they are respecting us, but I wouldn’t exactly call it “respecting” when the biggest Muslim organisation in the country ban their followers from simply giving a Christmas or Easter greetings. I mean they like the Christmas trees and the fuzzy Santa and all, but that’s about it. There are nothing expected from the Muslim majority towards the minority when it comes to other religion’s big day. They can just simply avoid saying merry Christmas, enjoy their extra holidays and go about their activities normally without even a smallest hint of feeling guilty about it.

To put it in contrast, Just before writing this piece, which is at about 2.30 A.M., a group of kids has just shouted in front of my house, literally banging drums and other noisy pipe thingy, lighting firecrackers, waking up the whole village assuming that all of them are Muslims that needs to prepare for fasting. These assumption would then be generalized into restaurant, bars, and alcohol transaction. Nobody really protested about it of course, because being a minority, most of us just sort of trained to accept those kind of rules. Yet, being scolded for eating in public during a fasting period is not a rare thing.

Moving into a more complicated matter, that is political position.

Yes, technically, and factually, minorities have held important position in the government. Exhibit A, the governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. Thing is, we must remember that he wasn’t exactly elected to the position. He replaced Jokowi that left the position to be the president. And now, coming into the next regional election, I can literally see posters, banners, and even demonstrations on the street chanting the cliche “choose a Muslim leader” slogan. And guess what? It works. Like it or not, race and religious background is still a very big factor when it comes to choosing an important role in the government.

Don’t get me wrong though, this condition isn’t unlivable at all. I think it is just fine, the way we live in at the moment. I mean with more Muslims than others, chances are, the leader that is suitable for us is Muslim anyway. And those noises in the morning only goes for roughly a month, and even if it wakes us up, it’ll only takes us few minutes before we sleep again right?

That being said, it is in no way ideal, let alone close into being called a tolerant society. What’s so tolerant about ignoring minorities when they do their thing and avoiding doing a little good thing for their celebration? Even If it’s only a small act off kindness in the form of greetings?

I haven’t even touch on laws and regulations, that prohibits inter-religious marriage, that allocates tax payer’s money to subsidies mainly only on one religion, that in some places allow religious law to be enforced without even recognizing any other religion.

When put into perspectives then, Indonesia can barely be called a tolerant country. We just become a sort of country that lets other religion or cultural group lives under its roof, so long as they can accept the majority’s ritual and laws.

If we compare it to somewhere like Australia or UK, we are barely tolerant. I mean if by being tolerant we mean letting other people live besides us as long as they are not bothering us, then yes, we are. But if by tolerant we mean embracing each of every different group’s culture and values, then we are still very far from it.

“Jika kita merasa Muslim terhormat, maka kita akan berpuasa dengan menghormati orang yang tidak berpuasa” – GD

On Dog Eating and Religious Tolerance

Yesterday at work, we discussed about the circulation of dog meats around Jakarta, and how it is increasingly becoming an epidemic, where the media (of course) sort of picked it up and hyped it up to be some sort of “serious” issue. Thing is, here in Indonesia, it is a serious issue. With all the Halal fatwa and the strong religion background, we cannot just ignore these sorts of things. Yes, even in the year that we’re living on right now, freedoms, it seems, is a very farfetched idea.

Anyway, I was bracing myself from a really contentious debate about what Mohammad said and readying myself for a racial discussion and ostracism. But weirdly enough, it didn’t quite kick out that way. There was some mention of this and that religion and races, but that’s about it. We ended up just talking about controlling the meat quality to avoid rabies becoming an epidemic once again, in a city with 9,6 million people living in it. That’s almost half the total population of Australia. Crazy right?

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So, it seems that when it comes to consumption and cultural ritual, which somehow these people are looking at it as if people are eating dog for spiritual thingy, people tend to back off and play safe. There are less irrational debates, based on what they believe rather than the facts, statistics, or just pure common sense of being tolerant.

I remember reading somewhere, (pretty sure it was on Nat Geo), about an Eskimo tribe who are actually permitted to hunt and eat polar bear, despite of them being endangered and all. They can legally hunt polar bears down and eat them because it is a part of their culture.

It just amazes me that the world as a society, has gotten better in handling this cultural differences. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some idiots out there (yes I am talking to you Mr. Trump), but people are getting more and more understanding of their fellow humans that believe in different values.

We now have gay marriages legal in most of major western countries, women are still grossly underpaid but getting increasingly positive acknowledgements, and we have a white boy who everybody hates (baby, baby, baby oh). Just 10 years ago, all of those things would seem a bit impossible.

Anyway, all I’m saying is that, the dog meat epidemic in Jakarta has demonstrated that religion is not the thing that is holding anybody back from being understanding and reasonable. During the discussion, one Muslim woman told us that she is not quite expecting the act of consumption to be banned. She just needs to know that what she is eating adheres to her religious standards, all she wants is fair information about what she is consuming.

And don’t get me started on the Pope. I have to say though, that I am a catholic, so I might be biased. Although the last time I went to church was on Easter, and even then I can’t remember what the Pastor said. Anyway, Pope Francis spoke about how we should believe scientific findings regarding climate change, and he actually speaks the language of peace without hating anyone.

Meanwhile, there are another extreme of people with the same religion who misappropriates everything and using it to kill, to discriminate, and to abuse. And I’m not only talking about ISIS here, because for me, ISIS is just the tip of the iceberg, made of religious oblivion and misunderstanding.

All I’m saying is that, maybe, just maybe, we should stop blaming religion or using religion as label of who we are. But maybe, just maybe, if we actually use religion as guidance (what it was supposed to be at the first place), and keep it to ourselves without oppressing it, we could finally live in a world that’s in peace.

“I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one” – John

On religion and double standards

Last week, BBC has posted an article briefly discussing the Hijab/Miniskirt battle, which apparently has gained traction in Europe. Meanwhile, the Vatican has expressed its strong disagreement towards Ireland’s decision to acknowledge same sex marriage on 22nd of May this year. Two (frankly quite conservative) arguments against the ever-increasing freedom in a contemporary society, in which God’s existence have become an increasingly relevant question and less offensive.

Without trying to be condescending to all of you out there that have faith, I think a conversation about this should not be treated with hot-headed fanaticism anymore, and we should approach this with an open mind.

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Richard Dawkins, the most hated person by the catholic society, made a very good point on February during his interview in BBC’s Newsnight program. He argued that every person has the right to believe his or her own beliefs whatever it may be. Be it Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, or the Martian. However, it is not in anybody’s place to force others to believe in their value, let alone religion.

A point well made by somebody who is an open atheist (quite surprising since other atheists in the Internet are bunch of narcissistic condescending group of fart heads).

It is one thing to disagree with one’s opinion because they recognise the different rationale behind it, but to disagree completely and to not wanting to even glance at the other side’s opinion is frankly ridiculous.

The Pope is said to have no opinion on the same sex marriage (or any other social issues as far as he’s concerned) because apparently he refuses to watch television. Granted that he may gather other information from papers or his colleague, but we cannot ignore the fact that he consciously block one of the major pathway for information and other opinion to ever enter his conscience at all.

It’s like you’re making a case against the republican for climate change and finding out that they hasn’t even read a single report on the issue. Oh by the way, they actually read those at least, although they choose to ignore it all. But that’s a different case.

Sadly, we should remember that the Pope oversees an organisation that mostly constructed of corrupt priests and paedophile ass heads. Frankly, if the same sex marriage includes an age limit of 10, I think the Vatican won’t disagree so much.

Anyway, back to more important stuff, what is even more head scratching is that the pope actually (somehow) have some power over the many global issues. He is the only person, along with Dalaj Lama that can actually just drop by DC one day and ask Obama to erase abortion law, make the government actually think about it, and save the life of those thousands, if not millions of pregnant teenager with shady future.

The power imbalance is so huge that other religion is seen as just a tiny dot in the word cloud of humanity, and when a religion gets big enough, it is condemned as terrorism.

It shouldn’t that way though isn’t it?

Humanity’s social progress towards understanding itself and its role in the universe should not be halt by a belief, value, or opinion just because they arrived first don’t you think? Especially when legit questions like Stephen Hawking’s questions regarding the very nature of our existence. Don’t we all want to know? And by knowing, I mean something other than the one written in a thousand year old book by I have no idea who, maybe the George R.R. Martin of that period.

I mean dude, are you seriously going to believe a book that was written just few thousand years ago while the age of the earth itself has reached more than 4.54 Billion years. That number is four and a half times more than Michael Jordan’s net worth. And we all know how rich he is. Kanye, by the way. Imagine how much stuff you can buy with that kind of money, now convert it into time, and imagine how many episodes of Friends you can watch in those years. Oh, that’s 119390332200000 episodes by the way.

Yet the opinion proportion is so imbalance in favour in this ridiculousness just because we came across that point first. I am not saying that we should despise that point of view entirely, there may be some merit in catholic’s or Muslim’s arguments. But so does in any other arguments. I mean we decided that the earth was not flat after being open to new idea after all right? And look where it has brought us! the moon dude! Literally!

All that I’m saying, on top of my ridicule and mockery, is that we should at least hear out the other side’s argument and not force other people to administer what we belief. I do believe in some of Catholic’s and Muslim’s value towards life, and some of the points are even better than great. But now, let’s put an end to the era of fanaticism and stubbornness and starts open our hearts and brains out to other’s point of view.

“So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” – Jesus (I am not even kidding)