What comes to mind when the word ‘saint’ is mentioned? Holy? Beyond human fault? There are many interpretations. All of them, however, draw a line between mere mortals and those who have displayed the godly characteristics that differentiate them from ordinary people. We sometimes call somebody a saint when they go beyond the normal call of duty in serving their fellow man. ‘The patience of a saint’ is often used to describe the exercise of tolerance when most of us would have succumbed to the opposite.
The word ‘saint’ comes from the Latin ‘sanctus’ which means ‘holy’. To sanctify means to ‘make holy’ or ‘cleanse of sin’. Of course this sits perfectly with the concept of Original Sin, without which most of our Western religions would have little foundation. This highly unfortunate assumption has been one of the most powerful influencers in our view of the world. Karl Marx once stated that ‘religion is the opium of the people’ and in that regard it is highly self-serving to perpetuate the notion of Original Sin. It is not in a drug pusher’s interest to wean the addict from his addiction.
We tend to institutionalise our thinking when it comes to matters that seem to be out of our control and we surrender our power to a higher authority in the hope that they will ‘fix it’. In the same way that banks make multi-billion dollars profit by charging interest, if our mindset is mortgaged to an external power then the ensuing bondage is the interest. Little wonder then at the power of the Church.
Fundamentalism is as alive in the West as it is in the East. Even the ‘right to bear arms’ enshrined in the American Constitution is an endorsement of a basic xenophobia or mistrust of others that only serves to further entrench the division that is the basis of dualistic thinking. The Ku Klux Clan and Gun Lobby have no shortage of subscription and right-wing politics reinforce divisions in culture.
The internet is now serving as a great leveller in dispelling monopolies of thought as individuals gain access to freedom of communication and the former moguls of influence are quickly losing their stranglehold on the masses. There are many more Davids than Goliaths and our ultimate redemption lies not in a patented cartel of power but in the hands of the humble servant that answers our deepest prayers for love and understanding and returns the power to where it belongs, which is in your heart and mine.