Where did the word come from? What were the word’s intentions? How does it apply to all of us?
Perhaps the best way to approach this issue is to go back to the origin of the word. It is a Latin word meaning ‘an unfaithful’. We can relate it to the word we often use as ‘infidelity’. As the Roman empire began to lose control of its empire militarily it reverted to a classic theo-political adjustment to what was soon to be called ‘Christianity’; structured and designed, exclusively, by the Roman Catholic Church. Within this doctrine was the diktat that only those who converted to Christianity and its exclusive declaration that only those who repented accordingly and professed to the conviction that Jesus Christ was the only salvation from an eternal hell provided by the ‘God’ they revered would be saved. All those who did not relent to this doctrine were ‘non-believers’. They were, therefore, unfaithful/infidels.
For over a thousand years those who did not convert to this belief were ‘Infidels’, according to the doctrine of orthodox Christian beliefs. Thus, the crusades, thus the genocides throughout the middle east, the Africas, Europe, the north and south American world. The horrors of this theo-fascist era of what was called ‘Christianity’ are well documented and humbling. How it still remains in our present times is something only a rare few are willing to venture.
It was only later that other religions adopted the word ‘Infidel’. Islam arose a few centuries after Christianity and began to solidify as a theocratic rule over an assortment of middle-east populations. It, too, had its notion of exclusivism; and, began the notion it, too, had the only path acceptable to the only god. Today, we see the ignorant fanaticism that can arise from the desperations of the human fears of life.
And, this only refers to the isolated geography and time we westerners are familiar with. Within their own context, virtually every human population, everywhere on this planet, throughout all histories, have possessed the same events of spiritual arrogance and subjugations upon others who were not to oblige the religions that prevailed. All known, and unknown, human history has had its paradigms of spiritual arrogance whereby those who varied from the theocratic rule were ‘Infidels’….by whatever name.
To the point: Whatever you call yourself, whatever comforts you find within your time and place, be aware that there are many billions of others out there who do not believe as you do. Technically, and by definition, YOU are an ‘Infidel’ in the minds of these billions of people.
Likewise, as you hold fast to whatever belief you may have (or efforts to have no belief), you consider these other billions of your fellow-creatures to be ‘Infidels’ because they do not believe as you do.
Where does the spiritual arrogance end? Where do the savagery and hypocrisy end? When do we begin to accept our ignorance and our bigotry and pursue a more ‘inclusiveness’ and acceptance of each other? This is something every human of good intentions should well ponder.
Stay tuned to this website and ‘Jaw Wags’ for the bits and pieces that may assist the ‘Infidel’ in you, along the way.
Note: The next postings will include an in-depth effort to define many of the words we so often use in describing each other. It will be interesting, informative, and maybe a bit uncomfortable. (Reality is always uncomfortable.)