According to Scott Appleby, the human response to a reality perceived as sacred is what defines religion. Appleby draws attention to an observation of religion being a powerful medicine that should be administered in little doses if need be. Applebyâ€™s position regarding this issue will be examined in this assignment.
Conflicts and debates about the role of religion have intensified in recent times, with analysts leaning on one of the two extreme sides. Some analysts hold the stand that religion is to a large extent opposed to progress and posing a threat of returning to the dark ages. Other analysts of the other hand believe that religion promotes peace within a society and human race. Appleby argues that religions attempt to limit the scope and frequency of violent acts in cases where such acts of violence have been legitimized. Hence this illustrates a reflection of violence as a tool of enforcing religious norms and self-defense. Moreover, the potential for uncontrollable destructiveness has also been acknowledged. Resolution of conflict and cessation or violence is the key goal of a religious peacemaker. Contrary to this, defeating the enemy either by gradual or violence means is the ultimate goal of an extremist.
Christian consciousness is characterized by a deeply rooted military image. Examples of the imagery in question include solder-saints who are popular in Church legend and lore, valorous knights and warrior kings. Rather than entirely rejecting the concept of a warrior or knight, nonviolent believers seem to spiritualize the concept. There are several figures symbolizing militant peacemakers and these include St. Francis, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who was involved in nonviolent protests. It is clear that there are expressions of ambivalence instead of entire rejection of physical warfare among the popular advocates of nonviolence. The other concept that captures the subtlety of spiritual warfare is the concept of jihad in Islam. Debates have been wages concerning the justification of the concept, its purposes and means.
Religious actors play a positive role in world affairs by promoting peace and this is contrary to popular misconceptions held in some political and academic circles. This is possible when such religious actors do fail to marginalize vividly symbolized, highly and deeply held beliefs in a high order of justice and love. It is ironical that extremists claiming to uphold the religion fundamentals seem to be extremely selective in the course of choosing the sub-traditions to honor and embrace. Peace building could result from training and education programs on peace available at all religious traditions. There are several transnational movements and organizations working with religious actors aiming at a common goal of promoting peace and stabilizing the communities that are under threat of violence.
There is recognition that all religious militants are tempted by violence and this temptation eventually becomes too strong for some religious leaders who succumb to it. It is therefore important for religious leaders to be careful so as not to fall into the temptation of resorting to violence as a means of conflict resolution. There are some religious traditions for instance in South Africa that are a cause of sustained arguments concerning the right response to violence sponsored by the State.
In conclusion, it is clear that while religious traditions promote peace and conflict resolution, there is the need to be careful of some practices that promote violence and warfare. Hence, religion is a powerful medicine that needs to be administered in little doses.
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