Friday, July 2, 2010

Politicization of Religions and the “theocratization” of politics


Let us consider an alternative perspective.

Politics appears to the only route that humankind seems to know to govern the nation. Political history has shown us that many wars have been waged by politicians. The excuses may be different and the people pushing for the wars may be different but it is ultimately the politicians that make the decision to wage wars. Many political observers world wide also acknowledge that politicians are prone to excesses, abuses and deceit. Given half a chance they will sell even their own mother to stay in power, as some say it rather crudely.

Politics is about power. Power is a divine trait, godly. Since it is a divine trait, in the hands of lesser mortals, it can be intoxicating and addictive. Hence, while political power is a major responsibility it can equally be a dangerous tool in the hands of the lesser mortal. It is never easy to give up neither power nor the uninformed supporters.

The more extreme the supporters, the more secure the politician. The more loyal the supporters, the more the politician has to pander to their inclinations to maintain their loyalty. This is particularly so when the loyalty is based on patronage.

This is the vicious cycle that the politician has trapped himself in for the sake of power. This is sometimes called “riding the tiger syndrome”. It is almost impossible to dismount the tiger because it might bite you.

The politician rides on a cause, a platform and the promise of a better life on earth. People who support the cause, support the politician. They get together into a club called the “political party”. They create rituals, mantras, levels of authority and ranks. At the bottom is the ordinary member whose usefulness is not only to make up the numbers but to support their leaders unquestioningly in the name of the party. The politician cannot make drastic changes for ordinary members constantly need something that they have already identified themselves with without understanding. Change implies need to think and to alter behavior which will upset the members. Only variations of what is already believed and upheld by the party members is allowed even if it gradually strays from the original ideal.

Religion appears to be the only route humankind seems to know to relate to the supernatural, and to make sense of the “spiritual” world. History of religions has shown us that many wars have been waged by the religious leaders. The excuses may be different and the people pushing for the wars may be different but it is ultimately the religious leaders that make the decision to wage wars. Many observers world wide also acknowledge that religionists are prone to excesses, abuses and deceit. We have heard of the inquisition, burning at the stake, killing in the name of “god” ethnic cleansing, “Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim terrorists” etc.

Religion is about influence and about instilling belief in a person’s heart. Influencing a person’s heart and “instilling faith” is a divine trait, godly. Since it is a divine trait, in the hands of lesser mortals, it can be intoxicating and addictive. Hence, while religion has tremendous potential for guiding good human conduct and a major responsibility it can equally be a dangerous tool in the hands of the vested interest religionists. It is never easy to give up neither the power to influence nor the uninformed supporters. The more extreme the supporters, the more secure the religious leaders. The more loyal the supporter, the more the religious leaders has to pander to their inclinations to maintain their loyalty.

This is the vicious cycle that the religious leaders have trapped themselves in for the sake of power. This is sometimes called “riding the tiger syndrome”. It is almost impossible to dismount the tiger because it might bite you.

The religious leader rides on a cause, a platform and the promise of a better life in the hereafter. Adherents, who support the cause, support the leader. They get together into a club called the “X religion”. They create rituals, mantras, levels of authority and ranks. At the bottom is the ordinary adherent whose usefulness is not only to make up the numbers but to support their leaders unquestioningly in the name of the religion. The leader cannot make drastic changes for ordinary adherents constantly need something that they have already identified themselves with without understanding. Change implies need to think and to alter behavior which will upset the adherents. Only variations of what is already believed and upheld by the adherents are allowed even if it gradually strays from the original ideal of the “founder”.

If you agree with the above alternative analysis and if it is correct, then imagine the potency of mixing the two – politicization of religion or the “theocratization” of politics!

When religion is politicized, it moves away from the individual and resides in a select few who bestow upon themselves the power to determine what should be believed and what should not. Political power may have control over your body but religious power attempts to control your very emotions, beliefs and soul. With this mix, the control over you is complete.

Now, just sit back and imagine the colossal catastrophe that can be unleashed by the lesser mortal with vested interest who now has the sniff of what is divinely!

Let's discuss. Let us be wary today.

Peace !

1 comment:

J_L said...

Someone I know and whose opinion I respect (and who battled hard against 'religionists') was of the view that perhaps it might be better not to fight, to let them take over. Then when they do what they want, and their promises are shown to be as empty as they are, people will be (beneficially) disillusioned and we can be done with the politicisation of religion and get on with things. But how many casualities will there be along the way...