Friday 30 September 2016

Fanatical adherence to any set of beliefs generates evil

Published 29/06/2015 | 02:30

Tourists mourn at the site of the terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia, in which 38 people, including three Irish holidaymakers, were killed
Tourists mourn at the site of the terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia, in which 38 people, including three Irish holidaymakers, were killed

The latest terror attacks in France and Tunisia bring home to us, yet again, the evil that is generated by fanatical adherence to any set of beliefs.

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These deeds are perpetrated by those who operate at the edge of society, seeing themselves as fulfilling the will of some ruthless and demanding God, which will lead to the ultimate reward of martyrdom.

Thankfully, Ireland is experiencing a post-religious phase where traditional religion is being steadily replaced by a more reflective and interpersonal form of engagement with one another and with the world. In essence it heralds a return to Christianity as a commitment to love, forgiveness and care, particularly for those who have been marginalised.

A striking feature of the life of Christ was his impatience with religion. It could be said that the essence of his mission was to breathe life into our lives and rescue us from the tyranny of institutionalism.

Clearly he would have had no truck with the god described by fundamentalism.

He, too, would have been horrified by much of what has been said and done in his name.

Idolatry is always lurking in the shadows of much religious practice. Christ's God was the source of life and love, the God revealed in his own life. His desire was to see us all becoming man.

We are beings in the making, and it is for us to engage creatively, imaginatively and intelligently in the most challenging task of becoming human for one another.

Philip O'Neill

Oxford, UK

 

The citizen is sovereign in Greece

As I write, news is just coming from Greece that its democratically elected government has decided to put the proposed bailout deal to the Greek people - the people who employ their politicians to do the very best for the people of Greece, the cradle of democracy.

Indeed the decision to hold the referendum has echoes of our own Constitution, which, in Article 6 clearly outlines the fact that the citizen is sovereign, that the people as a collective ultimately decide how they should be governed and by whom.

One wonders if our own political leaders would have been so forthright in their signing up to a massive chunk of European debt, much of which was spent in the holiday resorts of eastern and western Europe.

Whatever the outcome, I suspect the Greek people will be subjected to many claims on behalf of European bankers and to what some might term scaremongering - as seems to be the norm with many European votes on this island.

The Greek Government deserves great credit for recognising that principle of communal responsibility, also enshrined in our Constitution.

It is a concept that was so hard fought for in days gone by.

I'll finish by wondering if egg will be on the menu in Dáil Éireann next week? Perhaps a new dish:"Ouef a la face"?

Dermot Ryan

Atherny, Co Galway

 

Where are our leaders?

James Downey (Irish Independent, June 26) poses the great imponderable, as he asks where are the great leaders of the 21st century.

Tilting at the windmills of pesudo-successful democracies, who continue to rape the earth and pillage the world's resources, Mr Downey illuminates and clarifies with authentic aplomb.

He also identifies a few exemplars of decency who struggle to survive against the wanton greed of (mostly) first world nations, exercised while the planet is falling apart due to huge environmental, social and political problems.

There would appear to be only a slight chance of any effective measures to tackle these global problems from those who rule the roost. Any 'great minds' who may hover hopefully in the wings would be well and truly gobbled up and spat out by the current, voracious, socio-political templates of governance.

Thus, anyone who dares to envision having an influential role in effecting real, fundamental change, would founder on the rocks of manipulative, corporatised, so-called democratic systems.

Such systems favour only the selfish status quo - a survival-of-the-fittest model of 'civilisation'. (It's a pity about the obesity issue, though!)

Filthy lucre folk and greedy merchandisers are the world's fat controllers.

'Let all others fade and wither by the wayside' would seem to be their clarion call.

Jim Cosgrove

Lismore, Co Waterford

 

Paradigm shift in child-care

Dr Paul D'Alton is to be complimented for his exposure of one of the greatest flaws in the Government's new Strategy for Suicide Prevention, (Irish Independent June 26), ie. the failure to deal with the main problem.

"Preventing suicide begins in infancy," Dr D'Alton states, and how right he is.

With the advent of MRI scanning, experts have been able to watch brain development in babies and they have come to the conclusion that one-to-one-care for the under- threes is crucial for the development of emotional intelligence.

Child-care guru Steve Biddulph tells us that the emotional intelligence that a child develops in the first three years is more important than any other aspect of a child's development, because it sets the foundation on which they deal with every crisis that life will throw at them in later life.

If the Government is serious about turning the tide on suicide, surely it must ensure that every child is treated equally and in his or her best interest - ie every child needs to be at home with mum for the first three years of life, at least.

This will certainly demand a paradigm shift in Government thinking, but it is a shift that will pay huge dividends, socially and economically.

Nora Bennis

Co-founder of Mothers At Home

Irish Independent

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