Just a few weeks ago we witnessed the horrific killings in Paris by those affiliated with the group known as Islamic State. Apparently the murderers cried ‘Allahu Akbar’ meaning ‘God is great’ before slaughtering those in front of them as well as suiciding themselves.
Whilst Islamic state is foremost in Western minds as a radical group of terrorists intent on killing those of a different religious persuasion as representatives of a Western world it perceives to be responsible for their oppression and ills – they are just the latest in a long line of groups that have killed in the name of God.
Throughout history man has killed man because of religious differences. The Christian crusades over 200 years annihilated hundreds of thousands of people and determined it was also the ‘will of God’.
Centuries have passed, the players have changed, the religions have swapped places – but the war cry is the same: man kills man and determines it is God’s will, and they kill in His name – whether that name is God or Allah or another matters not.
Such acts of terror are undoubtedly acts of evil, perpetrated through people who claim to be acting in God’s will or His name. This is the most absurd paradox whereby acts of evil are committed in the name of God – yet God himself is pure love. It is an extreme end of the spectrum and so makes the absurdity clear to see, feel and know – that God has nothing to do with initiating such atrocities that have arisen from the minds of men devoid of the love of God they claim to revere.
Indeed such acts have more do with God-less living than God-full living – for no-one who was truly connected to the source of love that lives within all could willingly choose to initiate and commit such acts against their fellow man. That said, it can at times be necessary to go to war to defend being attacked and to arrest the evil – for love says no to evil and does not give it free reign, but that is a reflection of how far we have strayed away from the love that we are that such an approach is necessary.
So what is going on? How is it possible for such evil acts to be committed in the name of God, in the name of the most stupendous pure divine love?
When I say those who commit such acts are devoid of the love of God – that is not quite true. They too have the love of God within them and they themselves are not in fact evil – but they are completely disconnected from that love and in that empty state evil can work through them to commit such acts. They do not live from that source of love and are oblivious to its presence. They of course are still responsible for the evil acts committed and are in no way excused from them – but if we are to understand what is occurring we have to look to a bigger picture than the small linear one that says ‘evil/bad people commit evil/bad acts.’
This goes back to the age-old question of whether people are innately good or bad/evil? I know some believe that there are people who are just evil through and through – and we can all think of the obvious names of those who have committed horrific crimes and atrocities. At first glance it is perhaps understandable why some feel such despots are just innately bad or evil people given the nature of the atrocities committed. But to me this does not make sense – given we are all made by the same process and ultimately come from the one creator. It is impossible for a creator that is pure love to create something that is innately evil – for the creator lives in the created. We are all made of the same stuff as God, for we all come from Him – even atheists! I have said it on this blog before, that every human being is an equal Son of God, every human being has an essence of Love, the Kingdom of God lives within every human being – every human being is innately divine, not evil.
We have to ask the question – what has happened to such a person or such people that they have become so hardened, so inured, so numb, so deadened to feeling, that they are able to casually annihilate themselves and others with impunity – and where those left behind revel in the aftermath of a perceived victory that resulted in the killing of fellow human beings?
Those who end up committing evil acts have at some point been deeply, deeply hurt, often abused in some form, be that mentally, physically, emotionally or sexually, and definitely not met or held with and in love and do not know there is a profound source of love within their own being. As they have not had that reflection of love, they often grow up with a distorted view of themselves and the world, holding beliefs about themselves that are far from loving, often full of self-hatred, self-loathing, anger, frustration and rage – at a world that did not meet and see them for who they truly are, all of which gets projected on to people who are not of their tribe, or religious affiliation, or nationality – which is then played out in scenes like those we saw in Paris recently.
Man’s inhumanity to man has nothing to do with God in Himself but has everything to do with all that is not God. By that I mean, all that is not love. Stop, consider and ponder how many ways we live that have nothing to do with love?
For example, when did you last get angry, frustrated, gossip, drink alcohol, watch porn, smoke cigarettes, take drugs, be jealous, arrogant, critical, dismissive, withdrawn, given up, depressed, anxious, bully someone, have an argument, fall out with someone, shout at someone or even be falsely nice – for all of the above have nothing to do with love! And that is only scratching the surface.
Most people would profess love for their family yet we have the odd situation where we will say things to our family in a way that we would never say to those at work or to friends! So who do we really love more? Arguing, shouting, name-calling, expressions of anger, frustration, rage, being dismissive, critical, judgemental, intimidation, abuse, controlling and more are commonplace in many homes – yet these are supposed to be the people we love – and all of those expressions have zero love in them. This lack of love in our homes, where anything goes, anything is acceptable because ‘it’s family’ is another form of evil, which hurts people and keeps them from knowing who they truly are.
I am using evil here to mean anything that keeps us in separation from who we truly are – anything that keeps us from knowing we are love. Such a definition means that what is considered evil goes far beyond vile atrocities to what are currently everyday accepted practices that occur in homes across the world – but we must begin to see that evil atrocities result as a consequence of what might be considered on the face of it lesser forms of evil that occur in homes every day but which lead to the deeply hurt individual who grows up empty of love, full of self-hatred, anger and rage that then gets turned on to the world with a pull of a trigger or the ignition of a bomb.
Of course this can be perpetuated further by the false religious teachings that abound – and which can be a vehicle for the expression of hatred towards another who is perceived to be different just because of a different belief. Any religion that does not teach that God is love and we too are that love is failing in its duty to be an ambassador or representative of God’s love in its most basic form. In my own country of N. Ireland for example, I know there are many who believe we are sinners, and who are told this week after week from pulpits across the country – yet again another form of evil designed to keep people from knowing the truth of who they are – equal Sons of God. Again, just as in the family home, no-one is killed and so on the face of it such teachings may be considered lesser forms of evil – as it appears that no-one is harmed. But that is simply not true. Telling people they are sinners, and having them believe it, is a form of crucifixion – it is nailing them to the Cross that says you are bad, you will never be good enough, you will never measure up, it fills them with guilt and crushes their hearts (no wonder heart disease is so rife in N.Ireland) – so that they never come to know and feel the truth of who they are as glorious divine beings of love. Now that is evil.
And what if it is these forms of evil in our homes and churches that are the initiators, the prime movers if you like, the first events that prevent us from knowing who we truly are and which in some instances then result down the line in the more visible evil atrocities that all recognise and agree are evil? Which then is the greater evil – that which is seen and known to be so and affects a limited number, or that which is accepted as 'normal' and occurs throughout homes and churches across the globe, affecting millions every day and which is the precursor for the more obvious acts of evil?
If we are to address the latter, then it is clear we must address the former. Evil acts do not come out of nowhere – there is always a history, a story, a life lived that is in some way devoid of true love. That story usually starts at home. What if it is the ‘wars’ at home that ultimately lead to the wars away?
We may feel helpless in the face of such violent acts and feel there is nothing we can do. But that is not true. We live in an interconnected world where everything we do, say and think affects the whole. It thus behoves us all to address the ways of evil in our own lives – the things that we do that keep us in separation to the love that we are. These ways may seem small but they all add up and they all contribute to the pool of lovelessness that abounds on this planet – whether it is over-eating, drinking alcohol, doing porn, taking drugs, being emotional (angry, sad, frustrated, rage, jealous, anxious etc) gossiping, arguing, bullying, being critical, judgemental, hard on ourselves and others – the ways are numerous that we live and express as less than the love we are. By consciously choosing to live in a way that is loving towards ourselves we will automatically be more loving towards others – for how we are with ourselves is how we are with others and how we are with others is how we are towards ourselves. The real enemy is within, not without.
To kill is evil, to kill in the name of God is evil – for it takes the name of the One who is pure love and endeavours to associate His name with acts that are not from Him. Having been an atheist in the past, and lived a life that was devoid of the love of God, I too have misrepresented Him from a place of ignorance and arrogance - yet today it hurts when I hear of evil acts being performed in the name of God. It hurts because I know the love that He is would never commit such acts and it feels as if the innocent have been tried and found guilty without being given any representation or voice in court – condemned in the eyes of the world with no recourse to a fair hearing. And furthermore where those who are on the fence, or in doubt, or questioning or uncertain are turned away from God as a consequence of the false associations, teachings and bastardisations of His love - as I once was, to live a God-less life. Therein lies the hurt, my own choice to live in separation to God for far too long and in the many ways of evil and lovelessness – to reject, resist, deny and dismiss the One who breathed me forth, who gave me life, who created me – whose love is so vast, so great, so stupendous that I have been forever held by Him even when I walked far away.
How grand is His love that all are forever held in his body of love, with the free will to walk far away and no matter how far they stray, no matter what evil acts have been committed, His love is there in full until the day all return and choose His love, to have every breath, every move, every word, every act come from His love which lives within All?
So let us not pretend that all the problems or ways of evil are ‘out there’ somewhere, or just belong to a few radical groups or that it is God’s fault! The ways of evil abound, they are in every home, every workplace and every church – everywhere there is people. It’s not that we are evil – far from it, for we are all Sons of God – but if we do not consciously choose love then we can be vehicles for all that is not love. Let’s face it and be real - we all have ways of living that are less than loving, kind, gentle, tender and nurturing towards ourselves and the sooner we rectify those ways within ourselves, the sooner we will rectify the evil ‘out there’.
Whilst evil has a reality in our lives, consider the sobering possibility that evil only has free reign and appears to be real because we do not choose love. Imagine what would happen if we all overnight chose love to be our living way in every moment of every day? Each of us has the free will to choose love or that which is not love. Evil has no oxygen when God’s love is known and chosen and so not only do we have free will, we have the responsibility to choose love. May evil in the name of God be obliterated because we choose to say NO to all that is not loving and to make known his name through the expression and manifestation of the purity of His love alone in our daily ways of living and relating.