As I write this France is bombing Syria in response to the terror attacks on Friday night. It feels very much like a repeat of the knee-jerk response of 9/11. I have no better solution, but I know that violence begets violence.
In the last couple of days there have been numerous posts about what the Islamic State is really up to and and equal number reminding everyone that not all Muslims are terrorists. Words piled upon more useless words.
It is hard to escape the fact that most of the atrocities in our world has been carried out by people who attend religious services. It is hard to argue against the likes of Richard Dawkins on the evils of religion.
I feel profoundly conflicted by that, because every single encounter I have had with a person who truly resonates with peace have all been practitioners of religion. And I know my faith has been transformative for me. In the absence of systematic religion, I am not sure I how I would have made the journey that I have. So I am not prepared to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
To me the toxicity lies in certainty. Fundamentalism of any stripe cannot tolerate questions. There is no room for the uncertainty that is the nature of humanity. That existential uncertainty makes us feel insecure and far too many of us try to shore ourselves up against being overwhelmed. We build dykes of certainty to keep back the flood.
We viciously attack those who threaten the flawed system we have created.
Pema Chodron speaks about the importance of learning to live in positive groundlessness. Likewise it is this essence which appears in the mystical traditions of all major religions – detachment. And every single one of us has plenty of work in that respect.
I need to ask myself – when I cling to elements of certainty in my own life, am I brutalising anyone else and claiming immunity because I serve a higher power?
Certainty that I am right is perhaps the most toxic attitude we can have.