freedom of expression
Dave Bootsma’s column (“A longing for peace,” Feb. 4), hypothesizes that the causes of the two world wars were caused by humanism and secularism. I think?this is a gross oversimplification and he seems to purposely use the terms in their pejorative sense in order to bolster his view that only by embracing Christianity will world peace be achieved (this is of course in direct contradiction of the current world view of some radical Islamists).?
His stated view that humanism is “. . . about power, control and greed” indicates a poor understanding, in my opinion, of what humanism is and ignores the fact that there can also be religious humanism as exemplified by such notables as Mother Teresa, Christians who support such organizations as Project Ploughshares, Christian Children’s Fund and the like.? Secular humanism, as differentiated from religious humanism is basically a philosophy that proposes that ethics, justice and societal decision-making can be realized by the application of reason.?
Conflating the term secularism with anti-religious or atheistic views is a common tactic of the religious right.? Put simply secularism is the freedom of religion, and freedom from imposition of a state religion on people — it is neutral on matters of belief, while at the same time not bestowing any special privileges or subsidies on religion.?
This is not to say that this concept hasn’t been abused by tyrants as Mr. Bootsma correctly points out.? And while it’s true that religion has often been unfairly or unjustly implicated as a cause of war, it has indeed been used by tyrants and despots to justify war.? However, it is equally unfair and unjust to lay all the causes of war at the feet of the secular humanists.
?The causes of WWI were myriad, including nationalism, imperial rivalries and alliances, militarism, collapse of the Ottoman Empire, social Darwinism (the belief that only the strong survive – a misapplication of Darwin’s actual theory), inflammatory newspaper reportage, etc., to name a few.? WWII was a direct result of resentment in Germany over the terms of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles that severely punished Germany for “causing” WWI.? The rise of patriotic fervor that this resentment fostered amongst the German population was played upon by Hitler and his Nazi movement which gave rise to his power.?
Coupled with the inability of the League of Nations to mitigate the situation (it had no army, nor were any nations willing to contribute their military forces for the purpose), along with the stock market crash of 1929 and the resultant runaway inflation in Germany; war in Europe was almost assured.
All of these things are admittedly, in the secular realm. However one should keep in mind that Christianity was the well-established religion of the majority of the belligerent European states.
While it may well be true the rise of Stalin, Mao and other tyrants was enabled by a perverted application of secular humanism, it cannot be said that secular humanism is any more the cause of war than is religion, either can be used as justification. One only has to observe the current conflict in Iraq where both sides invoke the powers of the Almighty to bolster their cause.
Mr. Bootsma’s solutions inevitably return to the idea that if he could just convince everyone to embrace his particular brand of Christianity, all societal ills will be remedied.? Of course he always forgets that Canada is a pluralist society populated by persons of many different beliefs and it would not be surprising to hear that many of them are offended by his apparent desire to impose his Euro-centric Judeo-Christian beliefs on all.
The only bulwark against these ideas is the maintenance of a secular society in which Mr. Bootsma has every right to express and practice his beliefs as does everyone else, religious or not.
I want to say thanks to our young folks that are serving in our armed forces in a effort to protect us from terrorism. At the same time it causes my young 71-year-old mind some concern.
I am wondering if Veteran Affairs still have military hospitals that provide our wounded armed service members like after World War?I and II. If not, do we have special arrangements with our partners in America?
I am also wondering to myself if six months is long enough, or do we have to have rotation or maybe conscription like in the past.
Support and pray for our troops.??