Should we continue to look at violent religious fanaticism as a social phenomenon, or whether we should treat it as a contagious mass psychiatric disease that needs to controlled, prevented and treated. Should we be revengeful towards those unfortunate souls affected with it, or whether we should look at them with understanding and sympathy and help them overcome their ailments!
History tells us that religious fanaticism is not a new phenomenon. It has been there in the past and led to genocides, mass murders, communal persecution and even ethnic cleansing. To be fair to all religions, most organized religious communities to whom such fanatics often belong have also faced such persecution themselves at the hands of similar violent extremists from the differing community.
One would have thought that the scientific discoveries of the last few centuries and the flooding of modern human universe with information and knowledge would moderate such tendencies, and indeed it is a phenomenon that we can witness in many parts of the liberal world, where democracy and rule of law establish secularism and protect human rights of every individual irrespective of his faith. However, there are other darker corners of the world, where violent religious extremism not only survives, but also seems to be taking control of more minds than earlier.
The misery, the anxiety and the discomfort such fanatics cause with their threats and their execution remains one of the most important challenges of humanity. It is a phenomenon that needs greater attention, and from all possible perspectives, including those that may not have been attempted earlier.
A few years back, when there was news about a six year old girl child being used as a human bomb by religious fanatics, one would have thought that it is the lowest point to which humanity can fall. A little later, all such hopes were belied as something happened that should make everybody wonder about the sanity of these unfortunate souls involved in it.
A group of people went around desecrating old graves in an Ahmadiyya graveyard, as part of their animosity towards the liberal attitude followed by Ahmadiyya sect of Muslims.
While one can understand if they attack living beings, it is difficult to fathom what might be their grievance with the mortal remains of people long dead, who are now beyond the living dramas of the mortal world, and even if they were scared of being desecrated, would hardly be able to comply with the demands of their desecrators!
Clearly there is something seriously wrong with the cognitive and deductible abilities of these guys, which makes them such an outlier in a modern intellectual society that it may be difficult to consider them as normal.
This brings one to wonder whether these people are sane at all, or whether their ability to think meaningfully has been destroyed by the mental abuse they seem to have put themselves into. If latter be the case, then what they deserve is not hate, but an understanding of their mental ailments, and maybe there is an urgent need to find out a way for addressing this diseases with which they are afflicted.
The acts of all religious fanatics and terrorists are generally difficult to understand by saner societies. Yet, they have been there throughout history, in almost every part of the world. The fact that they have afflicted followers of practically all religions at some point of time or other, suggests that the problem may not exactly be in any particular religion, but rather in the minds of those who get afflicted with these seemingly infectious syndromes.
Unfortunately, little attention seems to have been paid till now to analyze the mental state of these unfortunate souls, and the severe phobias and delusions of persecution that they seem to suffer with regard to the members of other religious communities whom they strive to kill.
Just like bacterial and viral infections spread from one to another, religious fanaticism also seems to spread from a person infected with it to others. Its contagious character is just too apparent to be ignored. As is the case with infections, those not immune to it, like young and unexposed ones, are often more easily infected, and just like it happens in viral and bacterial diseases, the disease does not equally manifest in all individuals. Some people act more like carriers. They live normal lives, but harbor the virulent thoughts and pass them on to others who may show worse manifestations of this disease. Finally, just like all infectious diseases thrive in underdeveloped societies, religious fanaticism also thrives and manifests most in such vulnerable pockets, indicating that economic development and educations can potentially have a major role to play in its control.
Contagious epidemics have made humanity suffer. Religious fanaticism has also done the same. Both have been a bane of humanity and cost lives. Maybe, it is time, we should begin to treat religious fanaticism as a contagious psychiatric epidemic that needs to be contained and prevented by proactive measures that will immunize those not yet affected with it. May be it is time it gets the medical recognition it deserves as a dangerous disease.
Viral and bacterial infections caused havoc for mankind for a very long time, but with dedicated hard work by scientists and medical experts, humanity has finally been able to control them. One hopes and wishes that humanity would be equally successful in controlling violent religious fanaticism, once sufficient attention is paid to it in a scientific manner!
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