Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Divide and rule. Unite and lead.

The title of this blog is an excerpt of a quote by the German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead, is watchword of the wise”.

The adage divide and rule is not limited to politics. It’s a cornerstone in the Power domain of the 7 Belief systems, being the 3 elements Money, Politics and Religion. Divide and rule in Religion is expressed by Shia vs Sunni and before Catholics vs Protestants (eg, Northern Ireland). As usual, Money (ie, business) is the wisest as it strives for “unite and lead” (eg, monopoly, oligopoly).

History is leading in the development of religions. The least disputed are Christianity (1st century) and Islam (7th century). Early Judaism had multiple gods (ie, polytheistic) while Second Temple Judaism (c. 515 BCE) has only one God (ie, monotheistic). Dating Zoroastrianism is difficult and ranges from 2000 BCE to 600 BCE. Zoroastrianism is likely to be the oldest as core religious concepts in all 3 Abrahamic religions stem from it (eg, source). 

The current religious divisions are relatively new in history. Recently, I have been made aware of a 1982 book called Trialogue of the Abrahamic Faiths by the late Palestinian-American philosopher Isma’il al-Faruqi (1921-1986). Please find below an excerpt from its Foreword (see PDF copy).

“In the early Middle Ages, the caliphal courts of Damascus, Baghdad and Cordova witnessed countless meetings of Jews, Christians and Muslims in which the learned adherents debated the three faiths. The reigning culture gave such honor to the three religions, such respect to their principles and institutions, that inter-religious debate was the subject of salon conversation, a public pastime.”

“Their deliberations gave birth to the discipline of comparative religion (‘Ilm al Milal wal Nihal) which left us a great legacy. Hardly any of the great scholars who lived in or near these great cities did not find the interest or time to contribute significantly to that legacy of human learning. Since those days, unfortunately, no such encounters had taken place; and the discipline had been dormant until the present century.”

The sequence of an Abrahamic Reconciliation is crucial. An (initial) inter-Muslim consensus, as suggested in this recent GPF article, is likely to stir up Fear amongst non-Muslims, and likely evoked by politicians who prefer “divide and rule” over “unite and lead”. This outcome would crush Hope for religious peace for decades or centuries.

The list of pastoral visits of Pope Francis outside Italy, and in particular the reunification of Christian churches and his dialogue with Islam, suggests to me that he is on a journey of Abrahamic Reconciliation. It’s hard for me to believe that such visits are unrelated to the various old and new predictions about an early 21st century global crisis (eg, my 7 December 2016 blog).

We do elect “leaders” and some of them even without a popular vote mandate. Unfortunately, our Leaders divide us (eg, Time 2016). Religious leaders lack the restrictions of a 4-6 year voter mandate. They might be the only ones left who are able to “unite and lead” and show us a way forward.

Show Me The Way (1975) by Peter Frampton
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.


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