MTV attackers, via Perambara
The common term for religious extremists is fundamentalist. This is a bit of a misnomer, seeing as following the fundamentals of any religion would tend to chill one out. But that’s not what I mean. There are more practitioners who latch on to one particular tenet or teaching (or appearance) and beat other people over the head with it. Homosexuality, eating pork, statue worship. These things are not in any way fundamental to the religion. They are in fact superficial. Yet, in this superficial media sphere, Superficialism get plenty of play.
I was friends with this Iraqi who was a bit of a fundamentalist. He didn’t drink, smoke or have sex. He said he didn’t even masturbate. He did do a mean rendition of the Michael Jackson dance. He was a bit of a fundamentalist but he was honestly a pretty gentle guy. He didn’t believe in evolution or that homosexuality was OK, but he wasn’t a dick about it. He prayed all the time and was quite humble.
I know many more Muslims who drink, smoke, party and worse. However, they religiously avoid pork. Scotch fine, pork no. I have always found this a bit superficial. In the same way there are many Christians who are vehement about abortion being bad but fine with the death penalty or torturing terrorism subjects or bombing the hell out of wherever. To be fair, I also know many principled opponents of abortion for whom that belief flows out of a general respect for life.
Buddhism is not a doctrinaire religion in the same sense, but even that has acquired its own superficialism. In Sri Lanka the practice is very much about thread, flags, loud ceremonies, etc. I wear the thread and I do think pirith, etc have value, but I don’t consider these fundamental to the Buddhist faith. I also do respect Buddhist statues and don’t show my back to them etc, but I think they’re important as a focus to mediation or devotion. Not in and off themselves.
Hence the brou-haha over Akon on Facebook of all places is deeply superficial. So far it is just rocks and words, but it can get worse. The last big star to come to Sri Lanka got grenades thrown at him. Shah Rukh Khan escaped, but the attacked killed two people, including a pregnant woman. What is this, you know? Attacking people’s fundamental right to life for these superficial reasons?
I guess it’s just easier to latch onto something superficial for religious identity. The more I learn about any religion the less I know and the more humbled and worshipful I feel. If you cling to one thing it’s very easy to be certain, but harder to be kind. Personally, I think the point of faith or intelligence or anything is ultimately kindness, and love. These things are means and I think that is the end. Accepting ourselves, our environment and generally being nicer to ourselves and each other.