Aug 15

Salem, Mass this ain't

nor is it the 1600s

The tragic story linked tells of but the newest round of mob violence against five women who were accused of practicing witchcraft and unleashing curses on their community. Those women are but the latest in over 2100 deaths in India from 2000 to 2012, and based on those numbers we can add another 175 per year bring our total closer to 2625 this century.

All the witches I know are perfectly normal people who will invite you to a potluck if you are just respectful, and given how they work with herbs they tend to be good cooks. They are really not about killing babies and cursing crops.

Let's talk about what is really going on here.

First, we have a society that is willing to blame anything it doesn't understand on someone who is perceived as an outsider.
Second, the mob allows fear of possibilities to move them to irrational violence.
Third, that violence is moved against those in society who have the least protections, in this case women.

Note how none of that actually requires any belief in the supernatural. It only requires fear of the other to lead to violence against the least of society. Not so far away now, is it?

Frequently we use a pretense of religion to hide our own fears and hatreds and use them to excuse ourselves. Rarely does this have anything to do with what the faith actually teaches. For example, if I were a practicing Hindu I might come to the immediate conclusion that any misfortune that falls me is the result of Karma and is just balance against the deeds of my past, either this life or a previous one, or the past of someone else involved. However, to do so I must admit that I am to blame. That I might deserve what happens to me is not something the average person is wiling to admit. Thus we look for a scapegoat.

Witchhunts, whether any actual accusations of witchcraft are directed or not, are never good. Worse, people involved in them rarely think they are on a witchhunt (again, unless of course there are actual accusations of such) but think they are but diligently trying to solve the problems of their society.

Hear now, and I shall give you a great theological truth no matter what faith you profess. You must start any investigation into the suffering you face with the following words of the prophet "I know its my own damn fault."

Then go about looking for evidence that the statement is untrue. If you can find any.

Resit the urge to make it about someone else. Resist the desire to find fault in others. Resist the need to place blame.

Get the beam from your own eye first. Then worry about the mote in the other guys.

Or other (G)god(s).

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