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Fear is one of the greatest enemies of human civilization. Perhaps it was necessary initially when we developed as human beings in order to survive. But I think we reached a point where fear is not our friend any longer. It will not save us any longer. It will work the other way around: fear to the diversity, fear to different really good religious group, fear to people of different sexual orientation, fear to people of color and fear of people of different races. It is all there.
And therefore if religion has any purpose left, this is to fight fears. And if you carefully read the Gospels they say something that is very very conspicuous in the life of Jesus. He always speaks, "Fear not." And when he encounters with his disciples after the resurrection, the first thing he says to them is fear not. And I think it is very important to be aware of dangers of fear and fight it by encountering people who we are afraid of, by showing love and compassion to them, have an encounter with them, have a talk with them, have a chance to listen to them and have them listen to you. This is the best remedy of the fear. I think this is the only way to deal with fear.
The prayer will not help you to go to a cell in a monastery or somewhere pray to get rid of it. It does not help. And I should admit I can well remember my journey from Tbilisi to the refugee camp where Chechens were located. I had all sorts of phobias about Chechens. I can still remember this strong feeling and even when we got almost there I was ready to come back without meeting them. But it took just a few seconds. When we met people who had just come through the mountains who had seen the death with their own eyes when we saw their tears and I think it was enough to realize that we are all human beings and we need to get rid of fears that have been implanted into our minds by our cultures by our traditions by historical circumstances or I am very afraid, I am very sorry to say by religion. Very often the religion has been an instrument of imposing fears on the faithful which is a betrayal in my view of the whole concept of religion because religion is meant to help people to get rid of fear.
But often time we see religion does not do the job. It implants fear in the faithful who come to listen to them in the name of God. But what we give to them very often is not the message from God. It's not a message about acceptance. It's not a message about love or peace. It's a message of fear. And I'm afraid in a religious setting it works very well because you can get better organized if you impose fear above the faithful or the congregation the people. And it is easy to control them once you have managed to impose fear in their minds and in their hearts.
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Once again Malhaz tell us some of his life changing experience: how meeting with the other changed his perspective of them.