Monday, April 10, 2006

The "great challenge" of the 21st Century: Working out of love, instead of fear

There's a powerful post up on Andrew Sullivan's blog. I wish he'd identified the author, but this comment provides clear-eyed overview of the Bush Administration's policy in Afganistan and Iraq. What really struck me was what this poster identified as the central battle of our time. I happen to think this person is right, although I disagree slightly on one point. See more on that below.

This person wrote:
But there is one great dividing line here, between you and me on one side, and Bush and his cohort (and the Christianists and the Islamists and the scientific reductionists, and all the other -ists) on the other: the humility of a faith based on love, with its attendant qualities of acceptance, inclusion and non-violence, and the arrogance of a faith based on fear, with its attendant qualities of judgment, exclusion and, inevitably, violence. You have written of this division in your own way when you wrote of the "conservatism of doubt" vs "conservatism of faith". I truly believe this division marks the great spiritual, social and political challenge before us in the 21st century: the shift from a faith - and a world - based on the fear of God to one based on the love of God. That is an evolutionary challenge. And a global challenge. And I think that some day it will be recognized as the great theme being played out at the center of the Bush Presidency, and the American tragedy in Iraq. Fear and lies, or love and truth. It's just that simple.
I agree with everything here, except for the implication that this central struggle is only occurring within communities of faith/or only has relevance to people of faith.

I think this IS the supreme struggle of our time. Much more than any fight over abortion or same-sex marriage, I think this is the true culture war. However, it's not just a shift within faiths from one mode of believing to another. If we do not move in the secular world from acting out of fear to acting out of respect, we will be equally in danger.

The secular path with all of its amazing strength and idealism is walked by human beings, who are prone to the failings that trip up all of us flawed humans. Secularists, just like people of faith, can act out of fear and arrogance and absolute certainty.

The real danger we all face is neither a particular religion, nor lack of religion, nor a particular philosophy. It's the fear that can make us all, at times, act as if we must fight to the death to survive.

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