Some years ago, I was a reasonably proficient martial artist. I say “was” because, while the knowledge is no doubt buried someplace on the premises, the reflexes and conditioning that are prime requisites of that pursuit are long gone.
The reason I mention it at all, is because I was thinking about defensiveness, and the compulsion to attack those “others” whose appearance, beliefs and/or ethos differ too much from our own. When I was young and physically unskilled, I felt that every threatening situation had to be dealt with by either retreat or an immediate attack: do unto others as they would do unto you, but do it first. As time passed, and I became more confident, I no longer had the compulsion to attack — in fact, became quite a pacifist. Confidence often confers a benignity, and removes the need to be superior.
I don’t claim to be some kind of saint. There are plenty of other areas of life where I still feel, from time to time, as though a good offense might be the best defense. Doubtless, in some cases, that is true. However, I’ve come to believe that defensiveness, along with the need always to be right (another of my character defects) is uniformly a sign of insecurity.
Which leads me to wonder, where are the heads of the folks who feel that they must force their religious views on others? Can it be that, in the final analysis, they are afraid — deep down inside — that they might be wrong, after all? Is that why so many brook no disagreement with their tenets — show such aggression, such an overpowering need to be right in the face even of common sense?
Surely God needs no help. Surely he, she, it or they is/are capable of converting folks who need it, chastising those who deserve it, and generally running the show without the assistance of our little monkey minds.
What, then, are believers afraid of? Really?