One of the most fascinating byproducts of my return to college is studying history. I’m currently enrolled in a class named Introduction to Western Civilizations. The course begins with the Ancient Babylonians and Sumerians and the wonder of the Fertile Crescent. Yesterday we were introduced to Henry VIII. I recently finished our semester project, an exhaustive research paper that was to be heavily sourced and presented to an instructor quite familiar with the material. This was one I couldn’t fudge. I trudged through and received a much better grade than I had expected.
The subject of my paper was Alexander the Great and his impact on current military strategy and tactics.
We have been exposed to a wealth of material about wars through the ages. Prior to the Common Era, or the existence of Christ and the acceptance of monotheism, most, if not all of the conflicts revolved around land or access to natural resources.
But the common theme of warfare since the emergence of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, et al, has been the persecution of those individuals whose views did not comport with their own. In other words, if you don’t worship my idol, the value of your life is nothing and you have become a threat to my belief system. Therefore, I will kill you.
Clearly outrageous behavior back in those dark days before science enlightened us and allowed us to think critically and resolve many of the mysteries that were deified in ancient times.
I truly believe that deep within each man and woman, there is an unexplained (as of yet) hunger for meaning in our lives. Why are we here? What is our purpose? Compelling questions that have endured through the ages…along with the accompanying fear that if thy neighbor doesn’t share our conception of our god, it’s okay, if not encouraged…to kill them.
I am a spiritual man. I am not an atheist. I pray daily. I pray to an unseen spirit or energy. I don’t know what form my God takes. I deeply respect the freedom all mankind shares in worshiping whatever God they choose. I do not respect their ancient need to kill each other over these beliefs.
The inherent value of studying history is that we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors.
For those of you who hold a certainty about the form and existence of your God, I applaud you. I also ask that you put the spear down and let the rest of us worship our own God.
After all, don’t you think that’s the answer to the question: WWJD?