If any of the ancient people, whether a learned scholar or an illiterate peasant, suddenly found themselves transported into our modern world, there would be only two things they would recognize — war and religion. Interchangeably.
It would be too easy, and possibly too convenient, to leap from that realization directly into the conclusion, as many do, that religion(s) is the principal cause of all human suffering. As it would be to dismiss such a notion out of hand, as it also happens. Not least because nothing in human affairs is that simple. On the contrary, history has shown us time and time again that everything is complex, multilayered, and difficult.
It is precisely because of those multilayered complexities that we are, once again, witnessing the slaughters in the Middle East, less than two years since similar slaughters started in Eastern Europe. There are, of course, many differences between those two conflicts. However, there are also some clear and tragic similarities — the chief amongst those being that, in both instances, innocent people, including children and babies, get massacred mercilessly.
Not that humankind has ever been reluctant to embark on such endeavours — there has virtually been no time in the history of humans when one group or groups have not massacred or tried to exterminate the other(s). If any proof is needed, just think of the Romans, Mongols, Crusaders, Samurais, Nazis, or many others.
It has long been established that humans are creatures that, above all else, seek dominance over other humans and respond to power, either by submitting to it or rebelling against it. Whoever seizes power and establishes dominance soon learns that it only lasts until challenged and eventually overturned. In such a way, the circle never stops, not even in our modern times, which many herald as ‘tolerant, peace-loving, inclusive.’
Perhaps from the safety and comfort of a newsroom, podcast room, cabinet office, or any other place where the so-called ‘moral high ground’ is carefully nurtured and then unleashed on the audience. Outside those ‘observatories,’ it is clear that nothing but technology has changed since the time Vlad the Impaler (courtesy of Bram…