It’s not about one book, it’s about language


The vast amount of bombings and shootings that have happened recently,(Baghdad, Paris, Beirut), have been affecting me. I have trouble dealing with problems that are unsolvable. Probably part of the reason I enjoyed House M.D. so much.

I woke up on November 18, 2015 and realized that the problem isn’t about any specific book. I believe it is, in part, about language. Not a specific one, but human language altogether.

From what I understand, most holy books are guides to being good people. There is a fundamental problem in how they depart that knowledge. Those guiding principles are open to interpretation. People will interpret them how it makes sense to their lives rather than know explicitly what it means.

Thou shall not kill.

Orthodox Buddhists view this as anything. Don’t kill humans, ants, ladybugs, mice, etc. They don’t eat meat either.

For the rest of us who do eat meat, we might wonder if we are already doomed to hell, yet our Creator made us omnivores. This may be news for some, but eating meat is okay as a Buddhist as long as the animal wasn’t expressly killed for you.

There’s also radical Buddhists. They kill people just like every other radical group.

It’s not just our holy books that have this language issue. It can be seen in the U.S. Second Amendment right to carry guns. What was their intention? Did they mean everyone can carry a gun everywhere? Did they mean one can have a gun at home for self and property defense? Did they mean everyone has the right to the arms of a bear?

I’m spiritual, not religious. I see a lot of issues blamed on a specific book by one group while their book is just as ambiguous.

People will use whatever they can to rationalize behaviour that is horrid if it’s in line with their goals. They will say a book said it was okay. They also argue that the book filled with stories is factual and to question it is to question all human existence.

I guess that’s scary for people to realize. These holy books were all written by humans with agendas of their own.

I guess other things too.

If a bee stings me, did I kill it or did it commit suicide? Perhaps I angered or startled it. It reacts instinctively. I react that way when a spider intrudes upon my shower.

One of the things I love about language is that it can be perceived in multiple ways. I love subtext and depth. I wonder though if it has no business being in a holy book. Is this the root of the problem?

What if one book was written to guide humanity as a whole? It could take good lessons from every holy book. But put them into this new book with clean, clear language explicitly detailing the acceptable range of behaviour. It would need to be written by the foremost technical writers and probably lawyers.

Some are likely cringing that I brought lawyers into this. Contracts are often hard to understand and a lot of people feel cheated by one in a divorce situation. Here’s the thing. Lawyers are good at addressing every scenario. The technical writers will ensure the language isn’t convoluted.

It could also be updated as necessary to ensure it is accurate and covers all it should.

But I also worry there are more sinister issues lurking. Racism, greed, fascism. Some people simply want to exert control over others rather than let them live happily. We can see this in workplaces. One might have a boss that cares more about following orders than getting the work done. Or constantly changes performance targets. We see it in abusive relationships. “You know that one friend of yours? I don’t like them. So you can’t like them anymore either.” The mean teacher who constantly yells at his/her students. Or the teacher who needs to have one student they ride all semester. And obviously dictators. Often the delivery of food and other items to their country’s poorest is blocked or stolen. It’s not that people aren’t giving. There’s a roadblock because someone feels a need to control. In Mad Max, the water was used to exert control over the masses. Some people use access to their bodies, sex, to control their partner. They’ll do this in platonic ways as well by threatening to leave.

Who gets to decide what is acceptable behaviour? I don’t want the responsibility of that on my shoulders. But I still think something has to be done before we lead the human race to extinction.

I don’t pretend to have the answers. I just have a lot of questions.

Ciao,
R~

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