Of all of the days in all of the religious calendars, perhaps today is the one which anyone of any faith could learn something from. It is a day which should make each and every one of us stop and pause for thought. Whether you believe Jesus of Nazereth was a man, God or fictional character, there is a universal message. Consider what the story of Good Friday tells us. A man, who professed non violence was put to death by a mixture of religious and political authorities, who perceived him as a threat. Forget every other aspect of the story. Just consider what heppened. A man arrives at a large city, under occupation by a brutal foreign power, ruled by a collaborative religious elite. He undermines that elite, contradicts their teachings and policies. The elite infiltrates his group, arrests him, tries him on scant evidence and then the occupying power publicly executes him, nailing a warning to other wannabe leaders on his cross.
Sadly, Jesus of Nazereth is not the only person in the history of humanity to have met a nasty end for challenging such vested interests. A quick trip to the Amnesty international website - http://amnesty.org.uk/?gclid=CMfiqY-voK8CFQQMtAodVQ9pcA tells us that the world is full of such stories even today. In a perfect world, Amnesty international wouldn't exist. Sadly we are a long way from that world.
If the athiests are correct about whether Jesus is a diety or not or whether he existed or not, no one would argue that the Roman Empire was a bloodthirsty and barbaric regime. Hopefully everyone who reads this blog would agree that no one should be persecuted for religious views or preaching a message of non violent resistance to authority. For all members of the human family, surely the message from this day should be to put such repression to bed forever. How can we do this? We can support the work of organisations such as Amnesty. We can contribute, we can write letters of support. We can shun products manufactured in countries where the regimes operate repressive policies.
I've never really understood the name Good Friday. I've long been of the opinion that the world should use the day as one to call for the end of all repression, state execution and torture. Whether you want to do that in memory of a man called Jesus, who may or may not have been a diety is up to you. The thing is that we need to have a global day, every year to highlight such repression and to call for its end. I don't care if that day is Good Friday, Easter Sunday or a day randomly picked on the calendar. What I want is for children in forthcoming generations to ask their mums and dads after Good Friday Mass "Do people still get killed for disagreeing with their rulers?" to receive the answer "No, we live in a civilised world today". Then every Friday would be a Good Friday.
If you want to see an end to repression, start today by joining Amnesty International