Lessing played a pivotal role in the German Enlightenment. Lessing?s play ?Nathan the Wise? is as relevant, if not more so, in the post 9/11 world of the 21st century as it was in the late 18th century when it was written. No single group has a monopoly over religious beliefs and practices. Every individual has the right to exercise freedom over whatever religion he or she chooses to follow. ?All religions lead to the same God through different paths? according to the Indian divine and mystic Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa who practiced all religions. No religion can claim to know the absolute truth.
The belief of knowing the absolute truth has been the starting point of all religious violence that has been witnessed through the ages, even to the present day. Thinking of one religion?s as superior to others and holding prejudices towards other religions has led to riots and religious holocausts. The false notion of thinking of the other religions as antagonistic to others has been the root of religious fundamentalism. Making generalizations about people from a specific religion as evil or moral or superior is a folly. Every religion has its share of adherents who not only fall into extreme shades of black and white but can also be classified within intermediary shades of grey. Devouts and fanatics are in every religion though most people fall in between these two categories. In today?s world the stakes are too high for religious bigotry and belligerence.
In a world armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, religious chauvinism can lead to the decimation of all of humanity, no matter what religion they follow. Religious jingoism has to be struck at its roots before the monster devours the whole of humanity. It is also important to remember that religious riots and violence are often triggered by petty and avaricious politicians and leaders for their own vested interests while the gullible public fall prey to such predatory and vicious political marketing of hypocritical and immoral ideals. It is necessary to have a balanced view of religion and not look at other religions with a jaundiced view.
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