Giving compassion a chance

Certainly there’s evidence of a bullying mentality in most of the world’s major religions — so much cruelty in this world, all in the name of this god or that one.

U.S. President George W. Bush famously stated that he couldn’t do his job if God didn’t speak through him! How much of Iraq’s present-day woes can we blame on Bush’s fundamentalism?

Most readers of The Japan Times have probably never heard of Father George Zabelka. He was a military chaplain and Catholic priest who blessed the “Enola Gay” B-29 bomber and its crew members on the morning they took off to carry out the horrific atomic bombing mission over Hiroshima. Later he expressed regret.

Of course, Japan’s murderous invasion of China in the 1930s had the full blessing of a highly militarized Shinto emperor.

Blaise Pascal might have been on to something when he wrote: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.”

It’s the Christian Bible that teaches us the moral precept “spare the rod, spoil the child.” And, hey, we’re all children of God! Seems like every major religion has an underlying sado-masochistic element to it.

For many centuries it was common for Catholic monks to practice a bloody ritual of self-flagellation on various holy days throughout the year. Such self-abuse is also evident among certain Shiite Muslim sects on the Day of Ashura.

Maybe what this old world really needs after all is less religion and more compassion. What do you think?

robert mckinney
otaru, hokkaido

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.