SONGSOPTOK: The personal make up of each person in all societies seems to be fashioned by religion. What is your opinion about that?

BERNARD OWOR: Indeed this perception rings to be very true. People’s  ideologies  and beliefs in matters of faith are more than often shaped by their religion or creed if you please. It is what formulates their moral values and virtues and greatly governs what they consider to be right and what they consider as wrong. Religion acts as a moral compass and a pillar that more than often become the ground or rather the foundation of peoples being. This can have positive effects and I also have to add it can have drastic effects because it is the hunting ground for great evil, people can be deceived into committing atrocious deeds because of false interpretations of the teachings or scriptures happen to be the core of a person’s religion and thus giving room to radicalization. 

SONGSOPTOK: In your opinion, are religious beliefs related to communal sentiments or to spiritual consciousness?

BERNARD OWOR: This is a very interesting question that demands a great understanding. Each and every religion has certain beliefs that stipulates or offer guidance as to how the person in that particular religion should live. Like I said religion more than often is the moral compass that dictates people’s faith and more importantly their spiritual way of life. So having said that, you can definitely see that most communal sentiments and spiritual consciousness are related or to be more precise based on the religion of that particular community.  So this brings me to the tricky part in my humble opinion this should not be the case because it gives precedence to conflicts that arise from the differences of our religious beliefs. Also it is paramount to differentiate between religion and spiritual consciousness and that my friend is the key path to enlightenment and wisdom. Hopefully I will elaborate further as we proceed with this interview

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that respecting religious  ideas and ideals can be considered as  religious fundamentalism?

BERNARD OWOR: Not at all I don’t believe it to be so! What I do believe is not respecting other people religious ideas and ideals is what constitutes to religious fundamentalism. It is well and good to live in accordance to your religious beliefs but wanting to instill those beliefs upon others, discriminating or perpetuating violence against others for their religious beliefs is not only wrong but evil no matter your religion or beliefs!

SONGSOPTOK: What, in your opinion, is the relationship between religious beliefs and fundamentalism ? Does practicing a religion eventually lead to fundamentalism?

BERNARD OWOR: Not really, I must insist practicing a religion does not necessarily lead to fundamentalism. You have to understand that fundamentalisms comes as a result of radicals who misconstrue religious scriptures in accordance to their own often deluded understanding and then oppose violently against those that have different beliefs. This even doesn’t have to be between people of different religions it can also come about people who fall under the same religion but beliefs differ because of different interpretations of the same scripture!   

SONGSOPTOK: A certain section of all human society has exploited religion to their personal ends – religion seems to be a sound business proposal. What is your opinion about this? Do you think that these people are intentionally fanning the flame of fundamentalism all over the world? What, in your opinion, should be done to prevent this?

BERNARD OWOR:  Now my friend you have hit the nail on the head so many peoples have preyed on others ignorance and on others who find themselves spiritually lost. They deviously manipulate scriptures and use religion as a tool to promote fundamentalism. Religion indeed has become a thriving business and places of worship have been turned to financial institutions!!!!!! People are being robbed blind by their so called religious leaders. Evil is quickly being spread using religious platforms and those who follow blindly are becoming victims of spiritual manipulation and indoctrination and it’s all being done in God’s name!!!!! That is why fundamentalism has taken strong roots and it can only be prevented through people opening their eyes.....people need to wake up especially on a spiritual level.....a spirit would only be governed by what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil this has NOTHING to do with religion but has EVERYTHING to do with spiritual awareness. Blessings do not necessarily mean a ticket to financial prowess as you may be misled to believe and taking of innocent lives will never ever in a million years offer you a ticket to paradise as you may be misled to believe. 

SONGSOPTOK: It seems that the huge wave of fundamentalism sweeping the whole world dates from the time of the fall of the Soviet empire and socialism. Do you think that there is a link between the two? If so, what are your thoughts about it?

BERNARD OWOR:  I am not well versed in historical happenings and documented doctrines so my opinion of these is not concrete. What I am inclined to say or what I believe is that fundamentalism has always been fundamentalism no matter the era what has changed is basically the tactics employed in the recruiting and also in the execution of these radicle ideas and ideals. More and more people especially our youth are being lured into these traps to some it’s for financial gain to others is the promise paradise especially those who are lost spiritually like I mentioned earlier, those who have no sense of purpose, the misfits those who are mad and angry at the world regardless of their reasons those who are ignorant more or so in spirit are easy targets and form the majority of victims And then they are those who want to dignify their twisted beliefs, moral and political innuendoes using religion to validate their evil intentions and selfish personal endeavors their numbers are on the rise thus I attribute this to the rise of fundamentalism  sweeping across the globe.  

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that there is a link between fundamentalism and subsequent development of capitalism as can be observed in places like Afganistan?

BERNARD OWORWell this is a thorny subject that requires one to trend carefully when addressing it. There is religion and there is politics  and it is easy to manipulate people using one against the other. This is what has been done in many regions and like you have mentions above Afganistan is a perfect example. It is unwise to have an opinion in a subject you do not fully understand but what I know is these fundamentalists often hide behind a religious veil to carry out political insurgence  against a people, a government or a nation. These people do not operate openly they hide sometimes in plain sight, they instigate political instability and carry out attacks most of the time in the name of religion. It has nothing to do with capitalism or communism of socialism! We all have a right to live, we all have a right to embrace that we believe is best for us especially on a religious level we all have a right to be free from fear and oppression. Fundamentalist thrive on fear and they are Masters of oppression I believe they should be hunted wherever they are and must be flushed out and persecuted before they carry out some of the gruesome and beastly evil plots you have seen they are capable of!!!!! Be they a regime or individuals or a radicle group they must be destroyed before they destroy humanity!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SONGSOPTOK:  This in turn raises the question of the relationship between religious faith and fundamentalism. What is your opinion? Can fundamentalism be considered as a means for developing capitalism?

BERNARD OWOR: I have elaborated quite clearly in one of the questions above the difference between religious faith and fundamentalism so I will not repeat myself and no I don’t think fundamentalism can in any way be a means for developing capitalism. I am not Albert Einstein but I can comfortably say these two are so very different ideologies and concepts that quite frankly I cannot understand how one can relate to the other fundamentalism is like a socially correct way of calling religious extremism and truth be told if I dare to divulge deeper especially when violently expressed it often a means that develops into terrorism not capitalism

SONGSOPTOK: What, according to you, should be done to prevent the rise of fundamentalism all over the world ?

BERNARD OWOR:  Again I do not see the need to repeat myself for I have given my answer to this in one of the questions above however I can add to what I said earlier regardless of our beliefs and religious practices we must learn to respect other peoples beliefs and we must live in peace and harmony with people of other religions that are different from our own. Religion must not be used as a tool to carry out evil or to promote violence between people have different beliefs and religion these are some of the way we can fight fundamentalism all over the world

SONGSOPTOK: There seems to be a correlation between the level of economic development and the rise of fundamentalism – some of the poorest regions of the world bear testimony to the fact. How important is education and economic development for fighting fundamentalism?

BERNARD OWOR: I completely agree with that fact as sad as it is, it is so very true poverty and lack of education and sheer ignorance usually create a breeding ground for fundamentalism. As to the matter of education many who are illiterate, semi illiterate cannot read leave alone understand the scriptures that govern their religious beliefs even many who are illiterate and very learned can lack the understanding or misinterpret the scriptures that govern their religious beliefs so many turn to religious leaders for moral, religious and spiritual guidance. These religious leaders inter have the power to present the scriptures in accordance to their own understanding and can easily twist and manipulate the congregation, the followers, especially young minds into a certain way of thinking which in turn can be used to drive this people to commit certain acts however despicable they might be without questions for they believe they are serving the will of their God and will be rewarded handsomely in the afterlife!

Poverty and suffering that comes with a poor economic status has also contributed greatly to fundamentalism.  In my very own country perpetrators of acts of terror has switched from radicles to desperate youth who are paid handsomely to commit certain acts  and should that act rob them of their life then their family get to benefit financially thus the shift and increase of terrorist attacks using grenades and such has been on the rise! This is unnerving and so very disturbing. So having said that it is crystal clear that education and economic development is very important for fighting fundamentalism   

SONGSOPTOK:  Can atheism be an effective weapon for fighting fundamentalism ? Or do you consider atheism to be another form of fundamentalism?

BERNARD OWOR: Well, well, well this might as well be a trick question but I will answer it to the best of my ability and will try not to contradict myself......no form of religion should be used as a weapon for or against another religion I have made that quite clear and I must also say fundamentalism is not a religion but extreme and radicles views and beliefs within a religion against another......Like I said we should all respect other people religious beliefs and should leave in peace and harmony with one another that also includes an atheist who practices atheism. No atheism is not an effective weapon for fighting fundamentalism it is our own spiritual awareness and understanding and respect for others regardless our different religions that is the most effective weapon for fighting fundamentalism.

SONGSOPTOK Do you think that Internet can become a powerful means for preventing the rise of fundamentalism?  Or do you think that Internet & social media are, on the contrary, helping fundamentalism to spread far & wide at a much faster rate?

BERNARD OWOR: This is a good question indeed and one can spend a lifetime debating the pros and cons for and against the Internet and social media in regards to your question It is unfortunate that the internet and social media has in many ways led to the spread of fundamentalism. In this digital and technological era where so much is available with the touch of a button a lot of information some of criminal nature can easily be passed along far and wide.  People with evil intension will always put a good thing to bad use And this is the case as pertaining to the internet that is just what it is for example a gun can be used to protect when in good hands and can be used for crime when it is in the hands of a criminal. Still the internet has led to many culprits and fundamentalists to be traced and dealt with accordingly their plots have been foiled and many lives saved because of the Internet and social network and many other fundamentals are being tracked and monitored without their knowledge and I truly believe Internet and social networking has done a lot of good in fighting fundamentalism

Being a poet myself who has written many poems to inspire, to educate, to empower even on a spiritual level I rely solely on the Internet and social networks to present and showcase my works to the masses and so I embrace the internet and social networks for it has enabled to reach many people all across the globe........


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