"Many and sharp the num'rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves,
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, -
Man's inhumanity to
Makes countless thousands mourn! "
"inhumane". Strange word. The dictionary says; lack of kindness, lack of pity, lack of compassion and mercy. To say the least. Cruel, brutal, savage, are closer to the truth in many instances. The word "inhuman" suggests that the behaviour is not that
of humans, but of some other animal species. But, the fact is that inhuman behaviour is totally human. No other animal massacres, slaughters, tortures, mutilates and executes other animals by burning, beheading, buried alive.
Humans have a large
brain. We have spoken and written languages. We can record history, we can plan for the future, we are aware of our mortality. We are creative and innovative. We can perform complex tasks. We have a talent for investigation and problem solving. Some of us
have come to reach the highest levels of understanding of history of the universe, our solar system, the earth and organisms that evolved here over the eons. Some of us search for truth.
On occasion, humans have displayed kindness and compassion, courage
and devotion, of the highest order.
So, what has happened?
Someone said that history is "one damn thing after another". If you study history, you may come to believe that it is just a chain of genocide, murder and massacre, repeating itself,
over the centuries. What was/is going on with the marvelous human brain?
To me, it appears that the human's complex brain is vulnerable: vulnerable to mass hysteria and mass hypnotism.A single person, or small number of persons, can whip the population
into a patriotic or religious fervor. No one can think for themselves. The most horrific acts become justifiable. Humans become an out of control mob, capable of the most unbelievable atrocities.
Sometimes there was what could be described as a war.
But in most instances it was just a slaughter.
From biblical times onward religion was the central issue. Not every time, but many times. The old testament begins with some pretty tall tales; one might hope that none of the rest of the Old Testament
is true either. Unfortunately, the descriptions of the massacres perpetrated by the Israelites have a ring of truth.
"God" commissions Joshua to continue the invasion and conquering of Canaan. The first "battle" is the taking of the city of Jericho.
On "God's" order, they "destroy every living thing in it, man and woman, young and old". Even the donkeys. A massacre at "God's" command.
"God" has conversations with Joshua, giving him encouragement and direction. The next was the city of Ai. "The
Israelites returned to Ai and killed all those who were in it. Twelve thousand men and women fell that day- all the people of Ai."
Five Kings of the Amorites were captured and brought to Joshua. His men held them down while Joshua struck and killed
them. The Kings were hung on five trees and left there until evening.
The justification for all this killing? The Caanites were "bad" people. Worshipped idols. Practiced incest and bestiality. Maybe sacrificed children. Incest and bestiality?
Tried by many. A child sacrificed to a God? Ignorance and fear caused this to happen. The Israelites solved this problem. They killed all the children.
By the year 1000AD, there is now recorded history. The period of the crusades is documented in some
Pope Urban 11, in a momentous speech, proclaimed the Crusades against the infidel Muslims. He promised absolution of all sins to those who went and died, plus immediate entry into heaven. The listeners chanted, "God wills it". Roman Catholic
armies from all over western Europe were mustered and 100,000 set off on the first of many crusades. The crusaders were motivated by intense Christian piety. They put the city of Antioch under siege. Once inside, the Crusaders massacred all the inhabitants,
then pillaged the city.
They then moved on to Jerusalem where they massacred all the Jewish and Muslim inhabitants.
The Crusades continued for 200 years. There were nine separate expeditions. Hundreds of thousands died. By 1290, all the
Christians had been driven out or killed. Pope Urban 11, who started it all, had died in 1099.
Killing among religious factions is not confined to Christian against Muslim. Muslim fights Muslim, Sikhs attack Muslims and Muslims retaliate. And Christian
The French Wars of Religion began in 1562. Rather than a war, what is described seems to be a series of massacres. This time, it is Catholic vs Protestant [The Hugenots]. It seems that the Queen tied to cement a peace between
catholics and Protestants by arranging a marriage between the King's sister and a Protestant, the future Henry IV of France. This did not sit well with the staunch Catholic population [also referred to as Traditionalist, Extreme, Catholics]
"Traditional" and "Extreme" sound familiar to you?
Tensions escalated and the King ordered the killing of some protestant leaders. This triggered the slaughter of the protestant population by Catholics, the "St. Bartholomew's Day massacre." Thirty thousand
people were killed.
The Pope offered his congratulations to the King of France and sent him a yellow rose. The Pope ordered the mint of a medal, depicting an angel carrying a sword and standing over the bodies of the slain protestants.
massacres of Protestants followed. The massacre of Merindol was ordered by the French King Francis 1, who ordered the "punishment" of the Protestants in the city of Merindol for "dissident" religious activites. His soldiers slaughtered about 100,000 people.
Religious conflict was not confined to Europe. About 1400, Timur, led his Muslim armies into India. He said, "There arose in my heart to lead an expedition against the infidels. The Koran told me, make war upon the infidels and unbelievers".
Sound familiar? I think I heard or read these same words very recently.
Timur went to India and attacked the Hindu city of Kator. He says, "10,000 heads were cut off in an hour." Further, "they were dispatched to hell with the proselytizing sword".
Then we have had the Inquisitions. The fight against the heritics. "Combat the spread of heresy". Led by the "Grand Inquisitor", punishments were handed out. These included banishment, life in prison or burning at the stake. The stated purpose
was to terrify people, so that they would not commit "evils".
There was a Roman inquisition, a Spanish inquisition, a Portugese inquisition. The most notable of those prosecuted was Galileo. The Roman inquisition assigned him life in prison for pointing
out, on good evidence, that the earth and other planets orbited around the sun.
The inquisitors needed to get a confession so the accused could be brought back to the fold. This end apparently justified the means, so various forms of torture were brought
to bear. The "rack" was a frequently displayed technique. Combinations of burning, piling hot coals on the body, hanging by the arms until the shoulders dislocated; the inquisitors were promised "clearing" of wrong-doing by the Pope. The " crime" was often
a possibility that the accused was a protestant.
You think all this bad stuff is remote history?
How about the Canadian idea of the residential schools? Converting an intact family of Aboriginal people apparently proved difficult. So the idea
came to isolate the children from the family, feed them a steady diet of Christianity, don't allow them to speak their own language or practice their own religion. Punish them if they do. "Civilize" them. The children were physically and sexually abused, and
lived in poor conditions. The schools had a mortality rate. A large mortality rate. Over a five year period, 1905-1910, 30-60% of the students died. In some classes, all the children had tuberculosis and many, almost dead, were being made to sit through
classes. The Catholic and Anglican churhes can both stand up and take responsibility. There is a rough estimate of 6,000 deaths in these schools.
Even more recently:
In 1980, Iraq attacked Iran. Muslim fought Muslim, and the battles continued
for eight years. Iraq apparently feared that its majority population of Shiite muslims would be inspired to insurrection by the Iranian revolution. Over two million soldiers on both sides were killed or injured. Horrendously, the Iranians used child
minesweepers to clear a path for their armoured vehicles. Thousands of chidren were blown to bits. And, read this: The child, wrapped in a shroud to contain the body parts, rolled along the ground until they hit a mine.
They had been given a plastic
key, which, they were told, would give them entry into heaven.
This is where a religion goes? How could anyone have anything to do with any religion after learning of this?
In contrast to religions, I am not killing or torturing anyone.
I am not making anyone sad, guilty or fearful. I absolutely never want to hurt anyone.
So, you religions, don't stand in judgment of me.
You religions,clean up your own act.