Conflict without end

It will last for as long as people fight over religion

The author is a 33-year resident of Chico and has lived in the Chapman neighborhood since 1990.

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, many will say that the perpetrators were defending their faith and culture while carrying out heinous crimes against people.

Reportedly the suspects were Muslim and natives of Dagestan, a Russian republic in the northern Caucasus region, which has seen centuries of cultural, religious, and political conflict and unrest.

Daily, the news reports stories of violence in Islamic countries around the globe. Now, that violence has once again come to our own country, localizing the headlines. How can one avoid concluding that Islam and violence are integrally linked?

One has only to meet my old friend, Ali Sarsour. He is one of the most peaceful men I have ever encountered. That is not to say that he is always mellow; he can become angry and upset. His method of conflict resolution includes reason rather than violence. As I understand, the Koran presents peace and brotherhood as one of the principles of the Islamic faith.

How do we have peaceful Muslims and violent, jihadist Muslims both claiming the same faith?

In trying to answer that question, I always find myself being forced to define faith and coming up short. Faith does not have a universal definition. That lack of unanimity has led to thousands of years of conflict: religion versus religion and faction versus faction.

I have a problem with organized religion. My belief is that religion breeds unavoidable conflict. Personal religion or faith is part of the human consciousness that allows us to accept our existence. When one person tries to force his or her faith upon another, we have conflict.

I do not see an end to religious conflict because I believe religion will be with us forever. There is much in this universe that we do not understand, and that creates fear. Religion is a reaction to that fear, and it is the diversity of religions that can ultimately create even greater fear.

This nation was founded on the concept of the right to religious freedom, yet we continue to see one religion or another trying to deny others their rights. The naïve answer to this conundrum is for all of us to accept one another unconditionally. Lacking that, maybe we could just wave our fists a little less often.

For the record, my personal faith most closely follows that of traditional Native American culture.