Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Crusades-Religion as Motivation

Pope Urban was quite the speaker. His ability to mobilize people in support for a war that really wouldn't affect in any way their daily life is pretty impressive. Going away from the discussion today, I think its important to recognize the power of words to mobilize people. A good speech can convince people of virtually anything, especially if those people have little personal experience regarding the subject of your speech.

Also of importance is the connection between Urban's speech organizing the Crusades and the words of Usama bin-Laden in declaring the "Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders" in 1998. They both break down to a couple essential ideas:

1. The Holy land is under attack.
2. The people who are attacking it are bringing murder, immorality and decadence to the Holy land.
3. If you defend the holy land, you are promised great benefits in heaven.

These themes are virtually identical in both Urban's speech and bin-Laden's declaration. There's a lot there to be said about the manner in which powerful people can use religion to both (a.) convince average people that they should hate someone else, and (b.) there's actually something in it for them personally to act on behalf of the powerful.

On the other side, though, is the experience of the Crusdaders that were highlighted in the second and third readings I assigned. Clearly, their experience (positive relationships developed between Christians and Muslims) contradicted all the horrible things Urban tried to convince them of, and as such, actually promoted economic and cultural relations between Europe and the Middle East.

So the important lesson for modern day is this: regardless of how hard some will try to convince average people that they should hate someone, they can't overcome the positive experience of two people who actually sit down and get to know one another.


urbanyouth704 said...

Using a persons religion is probably the biggest way to motivate that person. Lets say if your the pope and you have so much power and so many followers within christianity and if all those people look to you to guide there lives through the words of god are going to pretty much do whatever it is you tell them to do. Thats how Pope Urban was able to convince so many men to go off and fight for the holy land because he said that it was under attack, that the infidels were taking it and that God said that wasn't right, and that he promised any one who fought in the crusades and died would go straight o heaven or that if anyone survived the crusades and died in their later years that they would also go straight o heaven and not have to wait in purgatory because they came to the defense of Christianity. A religious figure in power that is able to say that if a person fights in a religious war that god will automatically accept them into heaven is extremely motivating for christians because it is a big deal to them if they get into heaven. In religious circumstances motivation is a key ally to persuasion.

Alex Rachlin said...

Going back to Number 2:
It is kind of funny to think about, but religion can be really plain old stupid when you are trying to think that your religion is the most supreme above all other religions and that the people of your religion are all holy while all others must burn in hell. Osama bin-Laden was very ignorant when he declared a Jihad against Jews and Crusaders. I think it was pointless because (Number 3) all religions are trying to defend the holy land! I mean, seriously, the Jews are just going to back down and say, "Oh, yes, Osama, arecertainly right, the man wanted in basically every nation for creating chaos and who is using his money to hide from the light. So, Osama, because you seem to know everything, we will 'fight' you and your believers for the holy land, because you are always right." I think people can be very blind when they do not know that no religious group is fighting at the attempt of "capturing" the holy land. Rather every religious group is fighting to DEFEND the holy land from EVERY OTHER religious group. I can see why Osama bin-Laden thinks he is always right. Whenever I would need help with science homework, I would usually go to a friend, my dad, or (of course) Mr. Zhang. Now, the reason why I would go to them is because when I thought I had the right answer, many other people would tell me I'm wrong (don't worry, this is getting somewhere). My point was that I didn't see how I was wrong and I wouldn't want to admit I was wrong, but I knew I was wrong. What I'm trying to say is that Osama bin-Laden thinks what he is dong is best, encouraging extremists and terrorists that they were doing the right thing. He would think that he's right, but he wouldn't want to sit down and have a talk with other perspectives trying to defend the holy land as well. Because and as a result of this, Osama can be brought up at any point of time any day for what he has caused already, all for what he thought was right.

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