Where does human respect live?

Regarding Thomas Clark’s March 28 letter, “Review of the Easter message“: Clark would do well to take a look at the world he lives in rather than filtering his experience through the stained glass of dogma. It seems that all the places where human rights are well-respected and the quality of life is high are relatively secular — Scandinavia, for example.

The converse is equally true, and it seems to be a vicious circle. In parts of the world where life is bad, people tend to be more devout, and this contributes to a country’s social problems.

India is one of the most religious societies on Earth. Hinduism, the dominant religion there, teaches that this world is unreal and unimportant, and that a “good reincarnation” is the only thing that counts. Thus there are frequent fatalities at religious festivals where people stampede in their determination to get “blessings.”

There is also often scant regard for human life in general, as evidenced by recent stories concerning gang rapes and murders. Generally the more religious people are — whether they’re Hindu or Muslim — the more inclined they are to blame the victim: “Good girls don’t go out alone,” etc.

The same correlation between religiousness and lawlessness seems to apply elsewhere. In America, the lowest quality of life and the highest murder rates are to be found in the Bible Belt states of the South, while there is much more prosperity and social justice in the more secular states of the Northeast.

Perhaps genuine respect for human beings comes not from following the commandments of God or a religion but from realizing that the real world is here before us, and from making a commitment to live in this world instead of dreaming about paradise or reincarnation.

vimal malik
kerala, india

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.