“We are prepared to give our lives for this” was the statement sent out by Pastor Terry Jones regarding his intention to burn several hundred Qur’ans on September 11 this month. Reading the news report my eyes temporarily stuck to this sentence, it sounded harrowingly familiar. Nine years ago 19 terrorists hijacked planes and literally ‘gave their lives’ for a religious cause. Nine years on and the problem still persists.
The misconception is that Terry Jones thinks he is “standing up against terror” – because going to war with Iraq wasn’t enough. The truth is, by creating a continued system of anger and discontent by pursuing and advocating book burning, political antagonism is heightened and the risk of terror attacks increases. Our war on terror has not got us any closer to the end of terrorism, but only aggravated it – and yet Pastor Jones somehow still thinks his Qur’an stunt will put a stop to it.
And it seems that aggressive stunts are on the up. I was recently at a gig where the artist started attacking the English Defence League (EDL). I didn’t feel too bad about it until he encouraged the audience to slash their tyres and attack them. This particular musician might feel that he works on a completely different wavelength to the EDL, and Pastor Jones might think that he is of God and terrorists are of Satan, but what all of these people are doing is exactly the same. They all believe in something and they all believe they are right; and their intransigence will only work towards creating an even more tension-ridden society living in fear of terrorism.
As long as we are divided in belief we are never going to end this war, close social gaps or stop political fights. How are we ever going to deal with any of the problems in the world then, if we all believe in different things? But once we let go of the old obstinacy of “what I believe is right”, we can start to use belief positively.
Belief is what keeps us all ticking over; it is what gives us a reason to live. All of us believe in something – you might believe in God, you might believe there is no God or you might just believe in the right to be happy. Just as belief is dangerous it is also imperative to survival. We have seen evidence of its destruction on an unprecedented scale, now it is time belief was used for more productive means. One of the most inspiring things to witness is a mass of aid workers rushing into desperate situations because they believe everyone has a right to live.
Pastor Jones would have made more of a ‘stand’ if he went and stood beside his fellow Americans, whatever their religion, and used his belief in God to support them in their loss.