Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

Burning Sacred Books

Posted on | April 2, 2011 | No Comments

Big week for extremists of all kinds: earlier this month, Floridian pastor Terry Jones burned a copy of the Qur’an, previously soaked in kerosene, in front of thirty or so followers, who happily got photographed to highlight the event. The expected answer was a bit delayed. On March 24, however, Afghan president Hamid Karzai publicly denounced the event, so far superbly ignored by most media. 

The rest was a bit more violent, unfortunately. Following a protest against this reprehensible gesture, 12 UN staff members were killed in Afghanistan Friday. To this massacre was added the death of 9 persons during other protests today.

Religious extremism is thus rearing its ugly head again in international politics. While it is easy to meet violence with violence, this kind of inflationist spiral will only worsen the problem. For the problem here isn’t violence, but ignorance.

The best answer to ignorance, fortunately, is education. Fortunately, the increase in formal schooling, especially scientific training, is generally accompanied by a drop in religious feeling. Furthermore, it brings about numerous social and economic benefits.

Mostly, and as was demanded earlier this week by the Women’s Status Council, the intrinsically lay character of the state must be highlighted and reinforced. Also, subsidies and fiscal advantages to religious organizations should gradually be eliminated. In a lay state, financially contributing to organized religion should be an individual and personal gesture, not eligible to tax refunds. This would incidentally make the financing of shadowy sects such as the so-called “church” of scientology harder.

 Finally, rather than burning sacred books, just recycle them. In the end this is a much more ecological solution.


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  • Photographie par Patrick Meunier

    Tous droits réservés, Patrick Meunier, 2010

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