While pursuing the Taliban discussion on-line yesterday, the topic of ancient cultures arose. A question was raised as to why we celebrate ancient cultures from deep in the Amazon and darkest Africa, but find the culture of the Taliban so repulsive. Which got me thinking (yes, that heretical process that gets religionists all riled up :)).
Most ancient cultures that have been kept hidden from the world, are a mystery to us (modern man) and to satisfy our curiosity and the need to learn, we naturally seek them out. These cultures have remained hidden, simply because the adherents, having no beef with the modern world, value their privacy and isolation (and would have remained blissfully isolated had they not been discovered). The striking thing about these cultures is that there is no impetus to force their culture upon the modern world. In effect they pose no threat to modern man, or his civilized values. Therefore, the civilized thing to do would be to “celebrate” these cultures from afar, and leave them the hell, alone. But modern man feels the overwhelming desire to “help” these people, and thus have we destroyed many ancient cultures forever.
However, every once in a while we come across old or ancient cultures that possess certain cultural traits that are in conflict with modern values and morals. One such culture is that of the Taliban; old yes, but loathsome, backward and just plain loopy by modern standards. They are not so mysterious, because we have read and interpreted most of their written ideology; what remains a mystery though is why they themselves have such wide interpretations of their own writings. Such a culture is ripe for manipulation by wily politicians, with self-serving agendas.
Now consider that culture’s evil partner is religion. Nothing stirs the emotions and gets people into a frenzy, like religion. And consider that all you need to marry these evil partners, is a crafty politician. What better politician than a cleric (an imam in the case of the Taliban); and he has the “god-given” power to consecrate the marriage too. In this combination, we expose probably the world’s most lethal cocktail: politics, religion and culture. When these three elements come together, death and destruction and sorrow, always follow.
Take away the politically deviant cleric, and the morally bankrupt religion, and the Taliban would be just medieval delinquents, with their puss-filled culture slowly rotting away in the stinking desert, and the world would have, not only been none the wiser…but even safer.