One of the trickiest episodes to navigate through in this world today is to position your loyalties and energies in a cause worth your support. In a world where nobody values your opinion and takes it for granted it's become very important for you to understand what is actually happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Darfur, South Africa, United Kingdom etcetera. It's crucial to have that accurate grasp of the truth, with the understanding that the truth will set you free. It is acceptable to bop your head to a funky beat courtesy of Bojo Mujo, but at the end of the day you need to know why Zola's iBhutho CD is not available in the UK or USA while artists as mediocre as Atomic Kitten, Paris Hilton and The Cash Money Clique have to cost you 59 cents in ear floss everytime you take an off-ramp at Beyers Naude in Melville. Maybe it might even help you to understand why Tsotsi was such a hit at the Oscars while it was not here, before the Yankees validated it.

This might sound like shallow socio-politicking at a time when all you need is to commemorate the contributions of the Class of '76 but have you ever wondered why foreigners get decapitated in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq? Have you ever wondered why so many young children had to die in Beslan (Russia)? Have you ever wondered why the war in the DRC seems to be refusing to end? Have you ever wondered why wars in all these countries with mineral reserves seem not to be approaching any end while the mineral consuming world is preaching 'blood diamonds'? Why former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor had to be extradited at a time when Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was seeking a third term? Is sounds like none of your business, but maybe it's time you started wondering because it might be having something to do with why you or someone you know can't get a job or a student grant to further their studies at tertiary. What's the point of cutting off people's heads if at the end all you get is polarised opinions? You get all couch-converts shouting, "nobody kills people in the name of our religion". Whoever said that they were killing people in the name of a religion? Did anybody hear them screaming, "Islam! Islam!" as the knife separates the head from the body?

I think the most saddening thing about the world today is that people belong in camps and beliefs. Perceptions are bought and sold. Where were all those who are now religious commentators who shout "not in the name of our religion" when Palestinians were killed in regular Israeli military incursions into the occupied territories? Where were they when Hamas founder and quadriplegic Sheik Ahmed Yassin was blown from his wheelchair by an Israeli missile, followed a week later by Dr Abdel Aziz al Rantisi in extra-judicial killings which are condemned by every law every conceived by human beings? Where were they when Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) was deported from the (United) States? If I may ask again, what are the names of those Muslim brothers who were piled up like peverts at Abu Ghraib and forced to simulate sex? Does anybody know or care? Maybe the name Linda Engeland rings a bell. Where are the armchair converts as men rot at Guantanamo without having been through a trial?

When Britain was colonising the world in the 14th and 16th centuries it was unashamedly doing it for the Queen and Country. But it was also doing it in the name of Christianity, to civilize, canonise and anglicize the pagans. The missionaries, who served as auxiliary colonisers never raised a finger to challenge the massacres, slavery and guillotining (decapitation) that was carried out in the name of Christianity in far flung "uncivilised" places. No, they were not doing in the name of Christianity but it just happened that they were calling themselves Christians and ran around with a Bible under their armpits screaming "the kingdom of heaven is at hand". And anybody who was not 'converted' like them was considered an uncivilised non-believer worthy of death. Now, talk about the flipside of the non-believer being called an infidel, then the world got serious problems.

Fact; Nobody ever killed anybody in the name of Islam. If you doubt this statement, make it an intellectual debate and let's talk. But it's a documented fact that John Garang's Sudanese People's Liberation Army has amputated people's limbs in the name of the Ten Commandments and nobody ever came out and said, "John please, not in the name of our faith". This brings closer to the debate another angle. Why does everybody claim to be serving their God when they commit horrendous crimes and human rights abuses? Why do the Jews in Palestine feel that they are serving a higher cause when they kill Muslim worshippers in mosques? And why do some Muslim radicals claim to be waging a religious war on behalf of Allah when they kill Christians, Jews, pagans and atheists?

For young people the understanding should come from the fact that religion is man-made. God never created any religion. Christianity and Islam are both man's creations in an attempt to find God (Allah). And the point most fundamentalists from both sides of the world's two dominant religions fail to accept is that God is neither a Christian nor a Muslim. God is not exclusive to Christians or Muslims but is for everybody, even those who don't practise group worship. For all that is known he blew breath in the lungs of every living human

being without compelling it to choose at birth which religion it will belong to. He is for every young person out in the cold world trying to knock the hustle. He is for the vagrant that was left by ambulance workers to die on the streets of Jozi even if the vagrant might not have prayed once in ten years. He is for the slain Lee Matthews and the person who murdered her. He is for the gangster in the Cape Flats selling mandrax and for the young girl who caught a stray bullet when a drug deal went bad.

It is a crime to copyright God to a religion. It is even worse to claim that He only listens to your prayers because you gather under a roof every Sunday and shout His Holy name. I know right now you are wondering why am I telling you all these, it's because this is one of the many truths young people need to know to fully comprehend what's happening around you. Before you know why you should love/hate George W Bush you need to understand his socio-religious upbringing and the hegemonic agenda that shapes his thinking.

And before you put on that Osama Bin Laden T-shirt and shout that you love him it's important to understand what he means by infidel and what fucked up society made him part with millions of dollars to live a nomadic life in the mountains of Afghanistan.

It will help you to understand why videos of decapitations in Iraq make you sick. And before you start to look at affiliates of a certain religion with aggrieved suspicion you also need to ask yourself what type of a conditioning created a man who would slaughter another man with the savagery last seen in the animal kingdom. Obviously the man with the knife was not born like that, there must have been a time when he was eleven years old and wanted to be a doctor (not surgeon), engineer or teacher. What happened to such noble ambitions on the way to adulthood? Can the same transformation happen to you if things don't go your way because of another man vetoing your success?

What did the polarised world do to contribute to the emergence of characters like Bush, Bin Laden, Al Zakhawi???, Ariel Sharon??? and organisations like the Chechen Rebels, Real Irish Republican Army, Kach, Hamas and more? What did we do to the Janjaweed and the Interahamwe? Who are they and what do they want? Can what they want be given to them? If so, why can't the leaders just give that and let's forget about them? Go out and find out.
Come back to South Africa and answer why was People Against Gangsterism and Drugs willing to kill in the name of their struggle? Why did they end up
torching Rashaad Staggie alive while some of them (PAGAD) were reported to be hardcore drug barons? They were both struggling for your attention and your money. Drug dealers were so greedy that they didn't mind what the drugs did to you. PAGAD, too were reportedly not out to save you but to use your ambitions as a launching pad for their own selfish struggle. Let it be known that there is no solution to the problems faced by young people, without involving them, or best of all by them. Let them
know that.

Why am I telling you all these? It's because as you commemorate the coming of the New Year as a Christian you need to inquirer why are you so convinced that Muslims will not see the kingdom of heaven and that your God does not listen to their prayers. And if you Muslim you also need to ask yourself why do you think Christians are non-believers and why are some elements of your religion ready to be suicide bombers just to push your belief and to protest the publication of caricatures with such violence? Knowledge is the weapon of mass destruction for 2007. Go out and grasp it. Inshallah, hallelujah!

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