Cyclical times from a geo-political and 'religion' perspective
These are cyclical times from a geo-political and ‘religion’ perspective.
Whilst I was not old enough to have memories of the last time the Korean Peninsula was actively engaged in socialist/capitalist dissention, provincial NZ was directly involved. From small town NZ we had (mainly boys) that participated in the conflagration in Korea, Malaya and certainly Vietnam. It seemed more personal when you knew the families concerned.
At a time of remembrance (Anzac Day) we would be wise to consider where and why such centers of power and fear permeated through history, starting with the Crusades in the 12th Century – lasting three hundred years.
Affecting every social class in Western Europe. The motives of those who took up the cause of the Cross were mixed: some sought to enrich themselves, others were seeking adventure, many were moved by faith alone. For all the crusaders feats of valour, despite papal proclamations and promises, whatever the righteousness of their cause, the Christians did not permanently free the Holy Land. Indeed, rather than driving the Muslims out of Palestine, the Crusades resulted in making them its indisputable masters.
The Crusades were begun by the Popes who promised spiritual and temporal rewards to all who risked their lives for a holy cause. The recruiting drives were given considerable impetus by the spirit of religious zeal then prevalent in medieval Europe – the soldiers of Christ believed they were fighting for a just and holy cause (sound familiar)
The immediate cause of the Crusades was the rise to power of the Turks in the Middle East during the eleventh century. They rose from a military status (they were hired as mercenaries initially by the Caliphs at Baghdad) into political and civil administration, where their leaders rapidly attained powerful positions (sound familiar again). Through the 11th century they overthrew the Caliphs and captured Jerusalem in 1085. The Byzantine emperor appealed to the Western Christians for assistance against the “Infidel’ Turks and Muslims – the call to arms followed. Three hundred years of Holy war followed.
Ten centuries later the Muslim and predominantly Christian dissention remains. Religious fervour, faith, spiritual and temporal promises prevail and the world is subjected to acts of violence predicated by faith and promoted by the faithful.
Political power has slowly usurped that of religious leaders in many parts of the world. Totally in some: Russia, China, North Korea and, not at all in others: Iran. Yet others – predominantly ‘the West’; Europe, UK, North America, Australasia, Scandinavia – have blended beliefs. A conservative attitude to individual freedoms by the more right wing and a more liberal attitude in things social from the left.
And so, we have a situation in US, UK and Europe where the population fears religious extremism. A situation in the Russia/Ukraine, Korea and many tribal states of Africa where totalitarianism prevails (a system of government consisting of only one leader or party and having complete power and control over the people) and middle eastern countries with both kingdoms and religious Ayatollahs – a totalitarianism with a religious rather than a socialist intent.
How can the world have grown such vast wealth in times of such tumultuous unrest and fundamental disagreement – over things important? Ownership, individual freedom, social justice, environmentalism, welfare, democracy. We do take many of these values as rights. We should reconsider and value the ultimate sacrifice many have paid for our ability to even consider the choices we have for life – in NZ.
But sometimes the evil becomes so unbearably profound and impossible to ignore – and in such times leadership needs to change. The bully in the school yard or on Facebook becomes emboldened when left to enjoy their ill-conceived actions.
That change has occurred in US, UK and possibly Europe – and whilst NZ politics is not to the forefront of geo-political leadership – unrest is burgeoning. There will be undoubted political posturing and change at our forthcoming election – we are not totally removed from reality. Just ask the families whose sons and daughters remain permanently in Turkish, Belgium, French soil.
Unfortunately, history repeats but it is not always negative – capitalism has proven of greater benefit than socialism, democracies have proven to be more popular and productive than totalitarian regimes, and sectarian rather than tribal or religious states, more peaceful and middle class prevalent. These principles and values must be protected – they are worth maintaining for the next generation.
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