Within two days of our return from the hot lap of love and Western civilisation, a cold-blooded atrocity of huge cultural and religious significance had taken place a stone’s throw from our homestead.
I am not religious but ever since I realized that the words ‘good’ and ‘God’ were basically the same thing, I have ‘believed’. My belief is all my own. I have never really wanted anyone else to share it because I’ve enjoyed the fact that it means something completely different to me than it would to you or anyone else. I am not a regular church, mosque, temple or synagogue-goer but am drawn to all those places for the rare sense of peace and understanding I find in them. And as I get older, I also get that feeling of ‘oneness’ that they used to go on about in school – from nature, great art in its widest sense and good times with friends and family.
All very middle-aged and clichéd. But this week, for the first time ever, the terrible and terrifying murder of a soldier in Woolwich has made me think again about my beliefs and what I should or could being doing with them.
Since last Wednesday, in these parts and beyond, there have been lots of scary tweets and posts about ‘an eye for an eye’. There has also been much talk about the violent nature of Islam, and in particular the Koran’s call to ‘slay the infidel’. As someone who has spent the last 15 years living among and working closely with many delightful, interesting, intelligent, generous, kind and peaceful Moslem people, I am appalled that the lives of good people of any faith (or none whatsoever) are now at risk as a result of such outdated, literal and simplistic views. It staggers me that so many people would prefer to swallow wholesale the ‘easier’ extreme view of Islam than to try that little bit harder to understand the gentler if more complex world of the metaphorically minded middle Moslems and their friends.
So, in my own way, I have been using the wonderful world of webbery to discover, promote and inform anyone who is even vaguely interested about some of the positively good bits of Islam, as far as I understand them, and, if possible, harness any glimmer of good that can come from this dark and dreadful event. Undoubtedly, all around the world, a bunch of unifying, open-minded Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Atheists and AnyOtherarians are doing the very same thing, but just in case they aren’t, here I am, out and proud. I am not a religious nutcase, I am barely religious at all, but God really can be good in any language, culture or religion and I believe in good.