Throughout the centuries a small proportion of people have found themselves in the circumstance where martyrdom for their ‘beliefs’ has been their fate. Others have found themselves in the unfortunate position of being sacrificed against their wishes.

Nowhere in history, in a time of social harmony, is it recorded that the ‘faithful’ have killed themselves en masse to be with their ‘maker’. Humans of most ‘faiths’ have proclaimed a convenient law that to kill oneself to be with his/her god, without a ‘proper’ reason, achieves a rapid trip to hell.

Thousands of people have died for these ‘proper martyrdom reasons’ and they have done so for gods no longer current, accepted as the ‘true’ god or even remembered. Many of these gods were worshipped widely, as is the Christian ‘God’ or the Islamic ‘Allah’ today. Adherents of these two ‘faiths’ are arrogantly dismissive of the authenticity of all previous ‘gods’ but then claim that the other has no valid ‘God’. They are unaware that they hold such views because of contemporary brainwashing and do not realise that in previous times devotees believed in their supreme being with the same intensity.

The cause of martyrdom in the past was generally a matter of the ruling majority being uneasy with upstart minorities that were perceived to be a threat to the good order of society.

Today, situations have evoked the similar martyrdom response, albeit with a slight difference. Theological attitudes now have so emphasised the ‘evil’ of other religions that, instead of worshipping a different ‘god’, they are in bed with the ‘Devil’. It is to be expected that underprivileged people, without political or economic power, think in this fashion, especially when religious leaders keep reinforcing such sentiments.

A powerful motive has emerged that not only uses national patriotism but also a supernatural reward. To die for “God and country” has always been the catchcry of the unscrupulous and of those whose vision has been narrowed by a lifetime of uncritical religious acceptance.

To die for one’s country may have some merit. To die for the rewards of existing in an eternal ‘paradise’ via the killing of self and other people is the biggest mistake any individual can make, for it achieves only pain and oblivion.

Those contemplating such actions must ask them-selves: “If I do this, will future history judge me in the same poor light as I repugnantly judge those who killed and maimed for their now forgotten gods?”

The very simple answer from posterity to this question will be: A resounding “Yes!”

By David Nicholls