Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oh ! Jerusalem

Of all the places in the world, there’s none so unique and none so disturbing as Jerusalem. This Sunday its a sport free post – while sport is indeed a passion of mine, I appreciate that many fair ladies who visit this space are not exactly enamoured by macho displays of tribalism (which, in one sense, is what sport is). So I turn to the another of my interests, travel, to provide food for this morning’s ramblings.

Yet another of my passions instigated this post. I am a self confessed ardent admirer of BBC Radio. In that hallowed place, one of the most enjoyable of broadcasts is “From Your Own Correspondent”, where BBC correspondents around the world take a break from chronicling the world’s miseries and instead talk about life as they see it. Wonderful wonderful series that I heartily recommend. Two days ago I listened to Matt Fry talk about Jewishness and Jerusalem in a brilliant piece that is ringing in my ears; hence this post.

I have been there and Jerusalem is like no other place on earth. There is something in the air, that even the most devout of atheists will find it hard to ignore. The air is thick with prayer. Three of the world’s greatest religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam, consider it one of the most holiest of places. In the one square kilometer of the walled city, there is the Western Wall, Judaism’s most holy place, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus is said to have been crucified and buried and the Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam after Mecca and Medina.

Not being from any of these three religions, I can have some objectivity in viewing Jerusalem. From extremely pious and devout people to outright nutters, Jerusalem attracts every kind of religious belief. It is truly the religious capital of the world. It should represent the very height on human compassion, of greatness, of moral enlightenment, of everything that is good about man.

Instead it is soaked in blood ; and has been so for two thousand years. Throughout history Jerusalem has seen no peace. Every base instinct of man has been in full and ample display in Jersualem. Forget compassion ; Jersualem has only seen war. Forget tolerance; Jerusalem has only seen extreme bigotry. Forget morality ; Jersualem has only seen killing. It should have been the summit of man’s achievement; instead it’s the very symbol of everything base about man.

Its exactly the same even today. Prayer and violence rule side by side. Every individual there betrays his faith by acting against every principle his faith has stood for. Emboldened by prayer, he is ready to kill. If not physically; in mind. The great glories of humanity; what makes us human, alas, are completely absent in Jerusalem.

Perhaps the world would have been a better place, had there been no Jerusalem. But then, that’s a naïve thought. If there was no Jersualem, man would have invented one. Perhaps that’s exactly what he did; for who is to say that the religious beliefs that millions bestow on Jerusalem are actually true.

Perhaps that’s what humanity is all about. Of the glorious and the wretched; side by side. Ah ! the follies of man …. Maybe Jerusalem IS the centre of the world.