Sunday, 7 February 2016

Heretical As It May Seem...

Dear Reader,

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority.
The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority.
The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking. (A.A. Milne)

Whatever you might think of people like Enoch Powell, at least he said what he thought and you knew exactly where you stood with him. With people like Cameron his tune changes with the times and which way the wind is blowing. The professional politician of the times since Blair took 'the throne', has rarely been given to plain-speaking; I at least give credit to Corbyn in trying to change that perception of politicians.

But the words of politicians also need to be measured for truth. Here is an example of part of a speech my local MP (Liam Byrne) made to a European Council last week, concerning action against the Islamists:
'... [what] we have learned [in] fighting insurgencies is that you cannot kill your way to victory. Victory needs politics, and to win in politics we must win the battle of ideas. We can beat them theologically, because they are heretics who, like all heretics down the ages, claim to be “holier than thou”.'
Whilst I could see and generally agree with the tenor of his argument, he was wrong about the idea of heretical thought, or "heretics". He seemed to make the assumption that "heretical" thought is to do with violence and rather infers that it's something evil.

Mr. Byrne gives heretics a bad name.

Individuals and movements have been described as Heretics at certain times in history but when you look back (the power of hindsight!) you can see that today those individuals and/or movements make sense, or can at least be viewed as reasonable movements.

For example ... Galileo, the Cathars in southern France, the initiators of the Unitarian and Protestant movements, etc etc. 

In fact, in my view it should be questioned as to who have been the genuine heretics through the ages; which religion (for example) has followed closely the teachings of its founder? In other words I am suggesting that the Roman Catholic church has been the greatest heresy as I find little to do with the actual teachings of Jesus in its official theology, and some of the ways of that institution through history have been highly questionable. Not that I find fault with many individual Catholics: I don't and indeed I have known them to be usually hugely generous people.

Similarly in Islam, there are two main factions - the Sunnis and the Shia - but which of those comes close to following the meaning of the teachings of their Prophet (Muhammed)? But, again, I don't find fault with many Muslims:  I have known them to be usually hugely generous people.

And so it goes on. It is very often individuals who - often through suffering - have stumbled on some aspect of truth as a result of experience in their lives, and have usually benefited other people and society as a result of their findings. There are many great examples - Francis of Assissi in Christianity, Jalalludin Rumi in Islam and Mahatma Gandhi (Hinduism). The greatest examples have probably been Krishna, Zoroaster, the Buddha, Jesus and Muhammed - and they were not welcomed by many in their time.

So, when Mr. Byrne refers to heretics in such a way, is he saying that we should not think for ourselves? Is he saying that the official line is what must be followed?

I'm not sure that he really meant that, but there are some seriously worrying (even evil) influences in the world that would be very happy if that was the case.

Politicians, therefore, have to be accurate in what they say, but I implore them to speak the Truth and not to espouse questionable lines of reasoning simply for the benefit of winning a cheap argument.

Also, politics by itself is not the simple answer to the world's needs. In my view there needs to be a re-visualisation of values and thinking in general. And who do we  need for that? Heretics of course: people who can see beyond the mundane to provide inspiration to find a rightful way forward.