A response to Kaul column
In Viewpoints on Aug. 25, Donald Kaul attempted to blame “religion” for wars and mass killings. In his grossly oversimplified historical record, he failed to recognize the true reason. Religion is a broad term, mostly misused and abused by those who need some justification for their actions. Why? Because religion is such a powerful force within our human psyche. When the conflict becomes more than a street gang battle or neighborhood brawl, the motive must be justified by more than just a simple reason. However, this does not necessarily mean religion itself is responsible. Wars happen, just as gangland battles do, because we are humans. We live in a world where conflict and competition are necessary, evidenced everywhere, from jobs to sports to spelling bees to protecting our families and belongings from others. However, if we did not have this part of existence, life would be one dull, boring experience. Nobody could learn, grow, struggle, overcome obstacles and, consequently, exhibit bravery, courage, compassion and faith. War may bring out the worst in some humans, but it can simultaneously bring out the best in other humans. Many of those humans in the latter category are just as religious as the others (Salvation Army, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Red Cross, etc.). Mr. Kaul’s misguided attack against some part of life in which he admittedly wishes no part only shows his ignorance of Life in general. Elevating Stalin, Mao and others is not a form of religious worship. He also states that Buddhism may not be a real religion. This shows his complete degrading of the definition for religion to fit his criticism. His ending quote was interesting, but this may be better: “A little incident at the scaffold [during the French Revolution] lights up the character of the patriotic Madame Roland. As she was about to lay her head beneath the knife, her eye fell upon the statue of Liberty which stood near the scaffold. ‘O Liberty!’ she exclaimed, ‘what crimes are committed in thy name!’ But thus it has ever been. The worst crimes that soil the pages of history have been committed in the name of that which is holiest: in the name of Liberty, or Justice, or Religion.” (P.V.N. Myers) According to Mr. Kaul’s logic, maybe we should try to wrestle Liberty and Justice away from the realms of government also, since they have been just as powerful in humans’ justification for war. I doubt Mr. Kaul would agree with that suggestion. He probably likes his freedom in this country, founded by a Revolutionary War.