Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fr Georges Massouh: A Spring without Colors

Arabic original here.

A Spring without Colors

In all of our countries, the dream of establishing a true civil state in which any mention of religious law is erased from constitutions and legislation is retreating. It is obvious that we are inevitably heading towards more religious militancy and sectarian extremism and more random killing, destruction and displacement...

Putting an end to dictatorships rapidly fell into the trap of obscuritanist groups that take shari'a as a cover for attaining their goals of seizing power and setting up a totalitarian religious regime that does not recognize religious diversity or civil liberties in place of a notionally  civil totalitarian regime that does not respect civil liberties and does not recognize political diversity... two regimes, whether in the name of religion or in the name of secularism, that deprive man of all the rights granted to him by international law, especially the Bill of Human Rights.

The "Arab Spring" was aborted before it even began. How can a spring flourish when it is supported by regimes that are no less dictatorial and obscuritanist than the regimes that the revolutions are revolting against? How can a spring bear fruit when it is supported by regimes that consider revolt against the ruler to be disobedience to the will of God? How can a spring bear fruit when it is being supported by regimes with expansionist and imperialist ambitions?

As the word "spring" implies colors and diversity, a monochrome spring is a horrendous spring. How can the elimination of religious and sectarian diversity, the elimination of political diversity, or the elimination of one military regime by another military regime be called a spring? A single color, even if it is the most radiant color, does not a spring make. Spring is the appearance of a rainbow, announcing hope and life.

Do we expect groups that disdain philosophy,  the positive and social sciences, and the humanities to create progress and flourishing in their societies? How can someone who says that all science is contained in religious knowledge or in a single book make a bright tomorrow? How can those who disdain humanity contribute to giving dignity to the humans that they disdain?

Two centuries ago, when Europe reached its "spring", in the Enlightenment it had also passed through bygone centuries. Its spring did not come out of a vacuum, out of nothing, out of ignorance, out of backwardness... Its spring came from philosophy, thinking, culture, science and civic life. Its spring came from scientists, philosophers, men of letters, thinkers, renewers and critics. We are in dire need of such labors-- especially in the area of religious thought-- in order to arrive at our own flourishing spring. There will be no spring in our societies so long as it is not preceded by a "religious spring" especially in what pertains to the state and the separation between religion and the state. Are such things impossible? God knows best.

We will not be content for our choice to be limited to being between two regimes, both of which disdain us and do not respect our humanity or our human dignity. Both of them shall disappear when the coming true spring inevitably dawns. Colors are welcome when they come to settle in our lands.

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