I have heard the saying so many times that when two dogs fight over a bone, a third one comes along, sees the opportunity to grab the bone and run off with it. However it wasn’t until recently that I could see the reality of this saying.
In one of my classrooms, two of my students were having quite a heated discussion about religion, one Christian, one Muslim. Both teenagers, both religious and practising. Having the usual run-around-in-circles arguments about Jesus, Abraha and his sons, the bible, the quran, but it was getting a bit vocal. Knowing me and that I do not have a go at Christianity at any opportunity, the one student asked me to correct the other one and vice versa.
I heard them out, then went quiet for a bit and asked them if I could point out something else to them. It went something like this.
“You two have had quite a heated debate now about religion, breaking down and attacking what seems to you to be the weaknesses in each other’s belief. Whilst doing this, neither of you have convinced the other, in the slightest way of the other’s point of view. Also you have “attacked each other’s religion in such a way that the other person isn’t listening anymore. However someone is listening. Look there.”
“In the other corner was a student that had religious apathy. Maybe not yet willing to give up on religion, but definitely not practicing anything. Whilst a Muslim is pointing out the issues in Christianity that to him seems weak and vice versa; the only message the other person hears is what is wrong with religion (in this case both ). So in essence when Muslims and Christians in our demographic context have a go at each other the voice of the atheists grows, using our own ammunition against us.”
We ended up talking about all the things that sets aside the followers from the non-believers. It is a much more pleasant conversation and frowns turned to smiles. We spoke about them reminding each other of the pillars of each other’s faith instead of breaking it down.
This unfortunately goes one level deeper, the judgement and infighting within Christianity, within Islam. It started with Catholics and Protestant centuries ago, with Christians damning each other to hell, not much less happens in Islam.
We all try to get our flock to the place we believe eternal happiness lays; using the path we believe to be the righteous one. If we are not happy the plan in front of us, the book we are following or the leader of our flock, then it is within our power to change that path, for ourselves. But then choosing no path, no destination? Does that really make sense? We encourage our kids on their path in life, without enforcing our choices on them, in careers, study fields, etc. Lightbulb moment; you can do the same for someone else.
For as long as we have something worth “fighting for” and” fighting about”, let’s be grateful and make that “fight” one that bring joy, smiles and common ground.
And even this does not mean hating the atheist, he will too find a path, but he will not see a path when the road he sees is filled with hatred, infighting and no followers. Ever wondered who is to gain from leading all of mankind away from all paths?