The Grips of Politics and Religion

commons-chamber

Impossible to Avoid and to Keep Them Apart

Ahad Malhi
Contributor

I stay out of politics! Politicians are all liars and fueled by their own self-interest to exploit others!” is a statement we usually hear from the masses. This argument can be easily brushed aside due to its vagueness. Politics is essentially decision making. Who makes decisions? Who do these decisions affect and how are they implemented? From deciding the socio-economic and geopolitical impacts of deploying troops in Ukraine to deciding whether you should go to Annie’s on Thursday night, politics is all about making decisions concerning a number of issues or ideas.

The word “idiot” is usually applied to someone who lacks reasoning skills, intelligence, and common sense. “Idiōtēs” means an “individual” or a “private citizen” in Greek. The Greeks would use this word to describe someone who was indifferent to public affairs, politics or matters which concerned the community; an individual who lacked intelligence and left public affairs to others who did not have the same ideology, values and interests. So, everyone who does not care about politics (global or communal) is literally an “idiot” if we follow the train of thought of the ancient Greeks.

“Those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means” – Mahatma Gandhi. Just as people cannot avoid politics, religion cannot avoid being mixed in with politics. Religion consists of a set of ideas and beliefs regarding existence, worldviews, values and laws. Everyone has a religion. Whether your religion is Zoroastrianism and the founder is Zoroaster, or your religion is Classical Liberalism and the founder is John Locke (in regards to natural rights and property rights) and Adam Smith (in regards to seeking a capitalist “nirvana”), everyone has a religion, and everyone makes religion an integral and important part of politics. One may refute this by mentioning that secularism is about removing the religious institutions from a position of absolute power (in a secular society, Biblical scripture can be a softcore moral compass). The reality is that secular institutions have simply favored a more materialistic religion. People disagree on which religion should actually be guiding the political sphere. Some want a religion with materialistic worldviews, and others want one with worldviews that are more spirtual. Consequentially, secularism is not a neutral method of governing. It is rather a preference for a materialist religion over others. In the end, it could be said that everyone is “religious” in their worldview. Food for thought.

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