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RELIGIOUS UNREST AND THE SOCIAL WELFARE

Okala Vincent Abanogu
Holy Family Youth Village Hostels
Amansea Awka

abanovin@yahoo.com 
Published September 15th, 2014

 

Preamble
Although we may be racially different, occupationally different, although we may differ in interests, status, color etc, history testifies that amidst all these differences, one indispensable element keeps us together and offers to each member of the human family a sense of belonging; religion I mean. Practically speaking, religion is a universal human phenomenon! No human society is without one form of religious practice or the other; and each relies so much on such values like justice, love, peace etc which owe a lot to religion. In fact, the French Sociologist, Emile Durkheim, proposed that humans cannot live without organized social structures and that religion is the glue that holds a society together. A conception of religion as a spirituality of peace-making since the perception of peace is outstanding in almost all the world’s religions like Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam among others remains irrefutable.

   

On a sincere note of appreciation, how do we for instance account for the relationship which exists between religion and education, religion and the civil society, religion and law since the centrality of all these considerations cannot be denied in a nation’s enjoyment of peace and development? On this ground, I point out once more that for a nation like Nigeria to embrace peace and progress, Nigeria must accept the true justice that is devoid of ethnicity, race, party and egoism. These lovely values doubtlessly are farfetched in the absence of true religion and practices. An understanding of the destructive power of religious unrest demands that religion be seen not just as a system of beliefs, but more also as a combination of ways in which beliefs are expressed in ceremony, food, clothing, art, architecture and social organization.

The Human Person and Religious Unrest
Threats of religious unrest have brought into question the ability of man to live together peaceably and in an atmosphere of religious respect. The Nigerian case where Muslims and Christians have turned into archenemies is a typical illustration and this has terribly turned the human society- (Nigeria) into a field of blood. With these in mind, this research focuses on the menace of religious unrest and its undesirable influences on the social welfare of the human person.

Why is our world collapsing to a lower and ever lower rung of hell? Why has religious unrest mocked our age (Nigeria in particular)? What an age of moral crisis have we found ourselves? When with a sober mind one examines the crime of ingratitude displayed by man against nature, which has place wherever we observe goodwill expressed and known, together with good offices performed, on one side and the return of ill-will or indifference with ill offices or neglect on the other side, one stands in doubt of man’s certain practices- religious practices not excluded! The talk of the day is religious unrest with its uncountable challenges over the social welfare of the human person. Nigeria is gradually sliding to its precipice. What started in Nigeria like a drop of water has grown into a mighty ocean of destruction- the Boko Haram Incident! Borrowing from the words of Ayn Rand, the appalling immorality, the chronic injustice, the grotesque double standards, the insoluble conflicts that have characterized human relationships and the human societies throughout history are matters of utmost concern to a sincere mind.

Questionable Practices in Religion and the Human Society
On a serious examination of some religious practices, certain questions tend to fill the mind. Are there people whose religious ideologies are destructive and inhuman? Are there deities that purport the drinking of human blood? It may not be an exaggeration to exert that Nigeria has been broken up into village units which are kept separate by hostility, cannibalism, head hunting and divergences of religion and language. The Northern, Western and Eastern Nigerians till now have found no reason why they must live in peace, mutual love and understanding. Empirically, some have presented themselves with the belief that their deity had bidden them live by making war on others, taking their wives and properties, and killing their men. The oppressed ones are the infidels following the Islamic language.

In a work like this, we must acknowledge that human beings are not naturally hermits; we live together in social groups, wanting and needing one another’s company. Appreciating Gabriel Marcel’s philosophy of I-Thou Relationship, we must have to note that social living makes possible incalculable benefits; isolated living would be miserable. On this, James Rachel notes that the benefits of living in organized societies include the existence of science and technology, agriculture, medicine, education, and arts, plus personal goods such as friendship, and much more; thus, whoever is breaking the society’s rules is a danger to the society. Can social living be possible without our consenting to follow certain rules? Why then has mankind (a religious being) decided to discard such golden rule which holds that we do unto others what we would love them do to us? (Matthew 7; 12)

It becomes primarily demanding to accept the fact that our moral rule, religious codes of conduct and worship are the ones that human beings must accept if they are to live together in societies. Each village, organization or society is integrated by its own language, religion and interest. Was Christ mincing words when in the Sacred Scripture he told us that men can only know that we are his disciples by the love we have for one another? (Jn.13; 34-35) Religious differences notwithstanding, a clarion call is made on us all to regard each other as members of one human family.

Our age has forgotten that the decisive element in the formation of a society is the dominant love of members. A reflection on the numerous pictures of the examples of our present day religious unrest takes us to the Augustinian notion of earthly city as portrayed in his work The City of God. Here, St Augustine while reflecting on the Pauline Letter to the Galatians outlined certain qualities (immorality, uncleanness, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmity, jealousy, anger, quarrels, murders etc) prevalent among those living in the flesh. Are all these features outlined by Augustine obtainable in our individual lives, families, societies, places of work, religious gatherings, government offices today? Are our societies and families founded and nourished by injustice, violence, rapine, oppression?

May we bear in mind that deep religiosity can go hand in hand with deep social commitment! Religious unrest truly can mar a nation’s enjoyment of peace, socio-political and economic wellbeing!


REFERENCES

Mary Pat Fisher, Living Religions: Western Traditions, (New York: Prentice-Hall Inc, 2003) p.15

Michael Molloy, Experiencing the World’s Religion: Traditions, Challenge and Change, 2nd Ed, ( USA- California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 2002) p. xvii

Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism,

James Rachels (ed), The Right Thing To Do : Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy, (New York: Random House, 1989) p.21


   

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