I would like to contribute three ideas into the debate.
You may have heard the following fairly well known quotation
“ The great masses of the people… will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” That was Adolf Hitler who, in Mein Kampf, created the propaganda concept which is now referred to as “the Big Lie”
I would like our gathering to consider today that the same principle concerning lies, may be applicable to abuse and I would like to introduce the idea of “THE BIG ABUSE”. Goebbels elaborated upon the idea of the BIG LIE and If you will permit me to apply what he said, to the principle of BIG ABUSE, it would run something like this.
“If you perpetrate abuse on a huge scale and keep repeating it, eventually people will come to accept it as NORMAL and no longer recognise it as ABUSE. Such abuse can only be maintained for such a time as the ABUSERS shield the people to the consequences of the abuse. It thus becomes vitally important for the BIG ABUSER to use all of its powers to repress dissent and enquiry, for dissent and enquiry are the mortal enemy of the BIG ABUSE.”
The idea of Religious BIG ABUSE is the first of the 3 ideas idea that I would like to place before you in today’s debate, and as an example to demonstrate the principle I’ll call on experiences from my own tradition and life. The oldest scripture in existence, in which the idea of a Divine Creative intelligence is mentioned is the Rig Veda, written well over 5,000 years ago, over 3,000 years BC and it was in India, the place of my birth, that it was written. So it would be reasonable to say that the earliest known believers in God, the articulators of the oldest religious praises, were the people of the Indus Valley. This being the case, the act of portraying the Indus valley civilisation and their descendants as Unbelievers is a BIG ABUSE. To then proliferate this misrepresentation globally and to sustain that lie for over 1,500 years, by calling them and their descendents pagan, heathens etc, is a BIG ABUSE. This BIG ABUSE is sustained and re-inforced even today – there are gangs of deeply disturbed, largely unstable individuals, presenting themselves as members of both the “religion of love” and the “religion of peace”, who at this very moment label me, my family, my community and the nation of my ancestors as, pagans, heathens, unbelievers, infidels, kafir and kuffar, “half-devil, half child” in Kiplings words, for whom the only cure is conversion, or death by beheading.
The fact that since birth, I have often been labelled as such, is an example of the prevalence of Religious BIG ABUSE … I would ask you to today ask yourselves what exactly is it that prevents the leaders of these two groups from simply stating that they have been wrong in perpetuating this RELIGIOUS BIG ABUSE? For us its actually very strange and quite incomprehensible, that the self same peddlers of this RELIGIOUS BIG ABUSE, in the next breath, happily accuse Hindus of having 33 million Gods, which to the reasonable observer SEEMS MORE semper fideles rather than infidels. We shall see that blindly ignoring paradoxes is a prominent feature of the mindset of the Religious BIG ABUSER.
That was an example of how RELIGIOUS BIG ABUSE is being inflicted on those who are intended and targeted to be treated as the OTHER, but let me bring the idea to an individual and universal level with a few less obvious, but equally destructive, examples of Religious BIG ABUSE, relating to children.
- to tell any child that his or her grandparents are burning in hell and to do it on an international scale is Religious BIG ABUSE,
- to undermine a child’s innate divine sense of justice, by telling the child that it is born guilty, is Religious BIG ABUSE,
- to teach children that their innate divine sense of reasoning is flawed, and to replace it by blind belief, I would submit, is Religious BIG ABUSE.
I am sure that all of us are able to mull over over this idea of Religious BIG ABUSE, and apply it to all of its forms whether national, cultural, psychological or indeed physical and personal, so I will leave this here for the moment but before I move on to my second idea, I would like to emphasise one more aspect of the BIG ABUSE mindset and BIG ABUSE ideology – the corruption of natural human instincts, in the pursuit of the exercise of power.
The second idea I would like to raise for consideration is the idea of Religious Oversight and Self-Regulation. I was an auditor in a past incarnation and I remember the words of one of the senior partners in the firm where I trained, when he described the role of the independent auditor.
He said “Directors cannot be trusted with shareholders funds and that’s why we exist.” He said “After Lust, greed is one of the strongest human vices and when we get together to build corporations, we humans can’t be trusted to self regulate our vices.”
In front of us is the ever growing mountain of evidence, evidence which can no longer be ignored, that religious corporations fall foul of the same affliction, despite all of their protestations to the contrary. Now, If we can see that independent financial oversight is necessary to prevent abuse of financial trust, what impedes us in seeing that Religious corporations need independent oversight to prevent the abuse of physical, psychological and spiritual trust?
We are in such a terrible situation that, ridiculous though it may sound, we are required to consider, even a religious ombudsman, as being preferable to the status quo which is clearly no longer acceptable. In no other scenario do we permit the perpetrators of repeated abuse to dictate the terms of their own evaluation, and to define what is acceptable penance. Do we permit a person guilty of rape to define “rape” and the degree of harm and culpability, and the sentence? It makes a mockery of justice to allow the abuser to define and parameterise the manner in which the abuser, organisation or individual, should be judged. One law for these institutions and religious traditions and another for everyone else has been seen repeatedly, to provide inadequate protection and obviously does not safeguard the human rights of those “not in the club”.
The third and final element, I would like to introduce to our debate today,
is about the BIG ABUSERs ability to render its prey psychologically impotent.
Now I was born in a village in rural India, in a stable in fact, and snakes were common, and I recall being fascinated by the snakes’ ability to mesmerise and render a mouse frozen, psychologically impotent, prior to striking. When I heard of the inability of the authorities in Rotherham, and in other towns here in the UK, to act in defence of the most vulnerable and innocent members of our community, the image of the mesmerised mouse came to my mind. From this perspective, I’d like to share the following observation …. as I see it there are not one, but two groups who have been on the receiving end of sustained abuse in our country, details of those who have been obviously physically abused have made headlines but a more insidious abuse has also been perpetrated and that has the hallmark of a BIG ABUSE.
Decent humans beings can be identified by their concern and respect for the welfare and rights of others, this is their innate, innocent goodness but the predator, the BIG ABUSER knows how to turn this aspect of divinity, into a vulnerability, a weakness and I would ask the question “Is that what has been done to the police, local authority and political leaders in places such as Rotherham, Oxford, Derby and Rochdale? If so, we must understand how this was achieved. Was it by deliberating creating an atmosphere in which our personal connection to simple natural human rights, becomes confused? Is this perhaps achieved by the repeated iterations of religious and wholly spurious offence taking?
How was an environment created where the most basic human instincts for self preservation, and the protection of the most vulnerable, were psychologically separated, from the natural ability to act, in their defence? Perhaps the answer lies in reflecting further upon the nature of RELIGIOUS BIG ABUSE.
A critical question, today especially, is how far has this psychological impotence reached and specifically, has it spread its tentacles into even Parliament and rendered our lawmakers psychologically hand cuffed?
If so, I would send a message to remind our lawmakers that this is the House of Commons, the very institution which was established to enable the common citizen, a person without money or power, to seek justice and protection from the abuses of the nobility and the clergy, those withmoney, position and ultimately power.
I would also respectfully remind our lawmakers that the House of Commons stands on a tradition of evidence and reasoning, of debateand wisdom and therefore it is vital that they follow this tradition and see through the “mind manipulating” gowns and robes, that they see past the funny hats and colourful sashes.
On behalf of the British Hindu religious community, I would authorise and encourage our lawmakers to see past pseudo-religious mumbo jumbo, and to see through false claims justifying the right of divine bigotry and divine self regulation. I would propose that respect for universal human rights must be the bedrock upon which religiously minded individuals build their religious establishments. And those institutions which have been built on the sandy foundations of centuries of religious BIG ABUSE must be brought to account. If these religious institutions are unable to accept the reason behind this, any connection with Divinity has clearly long fled their institutions. BIG ABUSE is simply about power and has nothing to with God, in fact such institutions and traditions give even God, a bad name.
Just over a week ago, on the 9th November I had the privilege to represent the British Hindu community at the Cenotaph, and to commemorate the courage and sacrifice of millions of service men and women, over 160,000 of them of Indian origin and I would close my remarks with an observation to do with courage.
Each and every one of those souls whom we remember on Remembrance Sunday, they valued the protection of innocent and vulnerable people and their own way of life, so highly that when faced with an army of delusional criminals driven by an exclusivist ideology, they chose to risk and sacrifice their lives.
Today we are discussing the actions of abusers, BIG ABUSERS who despite robes, gowns and hats, are also exclusivist delusional criminals and we too need to find the courage to act in protection of the most innocent and most vulnerable members of our communities and also the British way of life.
I submit that Religious rights must be subservient to Human rights and the rule of reason must prevail over abusive criminality, no matter how delusional.