Even though Rolbos is so far away from the capitol of France, the group in Boggel’s Place gathers for a moment of silence to pray for the victims, the families and friends of the people who died there last night. Oudoom leads them in prayer – breaking the sombre silence – before sitting down slowly.
“The world is at war,” Gertruida eventually says, “but not like the wars in the past. The world is at war with itself.”
Servaas nods. “Yes, that’s true. Something horrible happened to the human race. I don’t know when, where, and how it started, but suddenly we have become a brutal mass of beings, intent on destruction. It’s happening all over. I just don’t understand.”
“Well, over here it’s simple. The thousands of protests we have every year; all too often accompanied by the burning of busses, buildings, and such – not to mention the loss of lives; are the result of an incompetent government.” Gertruida is lecturing again. It’s her way of rationalising – of escaping the reality of the horrors we live with every day. “We are, however, only experiencing the initial symptoms of social unrest. In it’s most advanced state, this unrest turns into terrorism. Incompetence has nothing to do with that; it’s pure fanaticism.”
“But what happened to democracy and diplomacy? Why can’t people talk to each other any longer; you know, discuss problems and find an amicable solution?”
“You solve mathematical problems, Servaas. You can’t solve ideology.” When she sees him knitting his brows together, she explains. “Look, both democracy and ideology are forms of brainwashing. Almost the same animal, vastly different outcomes. In democracy the will of the majority is supreme. If you’re in the minority, you’re forced to accept whatever drew the most votes. So you stare at the TV every night, shake your head at the antics of politicians….but you remain a loyal citizen.
“But ideology? The backbone of ideology has nothing to do with minorities or majorities. The will of the people doesn’t count. If you dare disagree, your life is at risk. The brainwashing here is more brutal, stark in its reality and doesn’t respect the individual. Ideology demands absolute ownership of your life, your soul and even your spirit. That’s the danger.”
“But why Paris? It’s the capitol of Love, isn’t it?”
“Exactly, Servaas. Love and ideology doesn’t mix. Oh, there will be other reasons as well – France is fighting against ISIS, after all – but in the end, the attack on Paris was a cowardly expression of hate. Shooting innocent people – unarmed individuals enjoying an evening out with friends – at random can never be seen as an act of heroism. You don’t kill people you love; you shoot those you hate. And why would a gunman open fire on a crowd? I’ll tell you: it’s because some twisted person propagated lethal violence as the means to an end. That’s ideology, be it political or religious in principle.”
“Ja, I agree.” Oudoom’s voice is tinged with emotion. “Religion is far more dangerous than all the nuclear arsenals of the world combined. Forget about an atomic war ending life on this planet. Religion will do it long before some idiot pushes the red button on the console.”
“Oudoom…?” Servaas can’t believe his ears.
“It’s true, Servaas, and sadly so. Look, all the religions believe that Man was created by a Supreme Being, the ruler of the universe. That’s faith and so far, so good. But then we lose the plot by insisting we know all about Him…or Her…or It. We attribute all kinds of human characteristics to our gods, assume certain attributes and preach about God’s will – as if we have an intimate knowledge of the mind of God. That, my friend, is called religion. We have corrupted faith into various religions that suit our ways of thinking. And then…in the extreme form of this…we create an ideology, throw reality out of the window, and start hating people who differ from us. When logic fails, my friends, we use God to justify our actions. That’s fanatical ideology, the fundamental flaw of the human race that’ll be our downfall.”
“And that’s why they shot those poor people in Paris?”
“That’s my take, Servaas. I simply cannot think that God – whatever different religions might call Him – would sanction such acts. Religion can. and people seem blind to the fact.”
“So, what can we do?”
“Do what your faith tells you: that God created us all. That we have but one life on this one earth. That all life is precious. And that there is no power strong enough to destroy Love. What god would like to see his creation destroying itself? Killing others won’t get you to heaven,Servaas, it’s a sin.”
“Well, my heart goes out to all those in France.” Gertruida sighs. “Faith, religion, ideology…I don’t care how those terrorists justified it – what they’ve done is wrong. It’s sad. It’s pathetic to think somebody is so warped as to strap explosives to himself before opening fire on innocents. It is, in the end, not the action of somebody who stands up for anything. It’s the action of somebody stupid enough to die for nothing except the tears of those left behind.”
Kleinpiet walks in to the bar with a small flower in his hand. It’s a vygie, the hardy little plant that survives in the harsh climate of the Kalahari.
“I brought this,” he says, “for the people of Paris.”
Boggel places the flower in a glass of water. “That’s the religion I believe in, Kleinpiet. Thank you.”
(Read also the prediction in the fable posted in September.)