The day Trump picked up the Bible…

It is a time of great sorrow as we confront the reality of racism. Whether it is subtle or overt, as was the case in George Floyd’s murder, it is always destructive and always painful. Many of you would have seen the video clips of the U.S. president brandishing the Bible in front of a church for a photo op, after clearing out peaceful ‘Black Lives Matter’ protestors. Following is what I think President Donald Trump should have said when he picked up that Bible…

“Churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship represent much of society, that seek to foster peace both inwardly and socially. Religious doctrines are useful tools to help us find that peace and to help us reflect it in our actions. This Book is one of those doctrines that embraces the philosophy that we all embody the Spirit of God, and it attests to the fact that our bodies are only temporary coverings of the divinity within it, and that the differences that arise in the body, due to race, environment, and circumstances are all inconsequential. Jesus assured us that the Holy Spirit is installed in all of us – irrespective of outward differences. That the spirit is divided between us, and yet is one, proves that we are all joined in spirit under a loving and protective God. It does more than prove our brotherhood and sisterhood, it proves our oneness. If we could take the time to acknowledge that He who loves us so much abides in each of us, how then could we hurt each other? If we could start seeing ourselves and others for what we are, an embodiment of spirit, of divinity itself, this country and this world could become a haven of peace, joy, equality, equal opportunity, non-violence, and love.

The events around George Floyd’s murder have brought the pain of racism to light and it can no longer be ignored, excused or accepted as the norm. Many white Americans may have learned some poor lessons growing up, where different rules of social ethics applied to different people, but, like many other White Americans, it is time to use discrimination to unlearn these false teachings and undo these false practices. It is time to see people for what they are, their fears, their ambitions, their loves, their preferences, their sadness, their potential, and their spirits. It is time to drop the irrational thinking on which racism is founded and embrace Jesus’ message of love wholeheartedly. Each of us must feel valued in this deeply connected society for us all to find our true worth.

I ask the black community for forgiveness for not actively taking up the cause of social inequalities sooner, and I hope that I can do much more for you, with your help and guidance, through what is left of my term. “

… and I wish he said all of this with the protestors still present. The day Trump picked up the Holy Bible could have been a significant day in the history of the world, but alas, it was only a photo op. My hope is that this failure by a group of police officers and a president, which represents a failure by society, ignites a lasting change in America, here in distant South Africa and the rest of the world. May we be united, as we are in spirit.

By Natasha Subbiah

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Fear or Faith

In my study of religious philosophy I have come across two fundamental emotions or values from which all other emotions or values originate. The first may not surprise you, it is “love”, the root emotion to most positive feelings such as empathy, compassion, duty, non-violence, patriotism, faith etc. The other  opposing emotion is “fear”, from which most negative emotions or values are spun, such as jealousy, anger, frustration, competitiveness etc.

When testing these fundamental emotions whilst observing religious people over social media and news platforms, most religious people who are newsworthy or who are prompted to speak out openly seem to be driven by one of these base emotions. Most of us will probably be motivated by a mix of these two emotions, but leaning heavily towards one side produces two very different kind of religious aspirants within the very same religion.  This has become exceedingly apparent in the times of the Trump presidency. There is the kind of Christian that is seemingly motivated by fear, whose fears are manifest as racism and religious intolerance, the irrational need to own guns and invest more in defence and security, including an expensive border wall. On the other hand, there are the Trump detractor Christians, who, driven by love, insist on protecting the victims of war regardless of their religious inclination or race, who would rather invest money in humanitarian causes than defence. These Christians, like the great Mother Teresa, driven by love, are able to see Jesus in all.

Every major religion produces many different kinds of followers, depending, I would say, on their motivating feelings and their intentions. These differences in motivation produce very different world views and naturally very different outcomes.

We can say that religion is the cause of most major conflicts in the world today. I am convinced that religion, by itself, is not the problem; but rather, it is the motivating emotions behind each person’s chosen religion (regardless of what that religion is) that is the problem. If we were to live in a world where the religious were motivated by true, divine, unconditional, unprejudiced, boundless love; then our world would flourish and we would usher in the Golden Age that many of us await.

I am often able to relate more to my husband who is of a different religion to me, than others of my own religion. This is because the variation within religious groups dictate that the traditional means of dividing and judging people based on religion is actually very ineffective. We should rather be judged on how much of love we have in our hearts; and since this is impractical with our limited senses, maybe we should leave the judging and the grouping to God.