Sharon Begley of Newsweek and Sacred Values

Begley wrote:  ” Sacred values are ideals so transcendent they have no equivalent in anything material,” and insinuating that a sacred value such as sovereignty over Jerusalem can be denominated in anything so crass as money is deeply offensive.”

Let me first say that I have the greatest respect and sympathy for the leigitimate demand of the people of Palenstine for a free and sovereign homeland.
However, by referring to any idea as described above as sacred, one unwittingly adds moral and spiritual weight to every belief, rational, irrational, valid, or fanatical, whether related to politics, religion, or to any human values.
In other words, one needs to make a distinction between what some people regard as sacred (the criterion mentioned in the article) and what can be genuinely and nobly sacred. There are both necessary and sufficient conditions for sacredness. The willingness to die for a cause, a belief, or a principle, may be a necessary condition for believing something to be sacred, but it is not a sufficient condition for it to be so.
Respect for fellow members of a group, devotion to one’s own holy books, and loyalty to one’s religious tradition may be sacred, but not if and when they include disrespect and hatred for other groups and a contemptuous disregard for the beliefs and visions of God that inspire others.
Thus, it is important to distinguish between what is truly sacred, and what should be regarded as undeservedly so when it crosses certain boundary lines. This criterion for distinguishing between what is genuinely sacred and what is misguidedly imagined to be so is applicable to the practitioners of all religions: Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity,Islam, Atheism, or whatever. And it has nothing to do with the legitimate political aspirations of a people.

January 12, 2010


About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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