Sunday, March 4, 2012

Politics and Religion

We all have the same destination.
 If there is one thing that the current political campaigns have showed us, it's that religious intolerance is alive and well in this country, and, in fact,  in every part of the globe. Demonstrations in Afghanistan over the, according to US military officials, accidental burning of the Quran. Shouts in the streets of "Death To America". The kidnapping and murder of different people in the middle east and other regions for not being the same religion as the people that they are trying to educate. Back here in the US, fundamentalists groups who preach intolerance against anyone that does not follow their path to heaven, or whatever their concept of religious salvation is. I myself have been "De-friended" here on facebook because I have spoken out against intolerance by people whom I respect and love, and even a member of my own family for 'Bashing Christianity'. It has been hurtful to me, but if I cannot speak my mind when I perceive intolerance, then I regretfully must let these people that I hold dear, go. The best that I can do is try to explain, but that has not proved to be enough. I just cannot stand by and listen to people say that, if you do not follow Our Way, then you are condemned to eternal damnation. This has been directed at anyone outside of their particular way of following what they perceive to be the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Let me explain. My wife, Sheryl, is Jewish. Two of our daughters are Jewish. Our youngest daughter is still finding her way, and my sons are/were Catholic. As for my self, I, at the age of 65, am still finding my way. I am very spiritual in that I believe that we are joined together by one 'Great Spirit'- God, if you prefer- but that does not mean that I think that this spirit has total control over everyone's life. I cannot believe that a benevolent entity would continue to allow all the suffering and hatred that is spread out across the world. I believe that anything that we do that effects another person, has a ripple effect in some small amount throughout the living world. 
 But this is not about me. As I said, I am still searching and learning. This is about the "My God Is Better Than Your God" attitude of so many people who look to run this country and the world. The fact is that of  the three major religions, all believe in one supreme being. Two of them, Christianity and Islam, give Jesus a major roll in what they teach. In Judaism, they are still waiting for the Messiah. All profess to put people on the road to a better life. Not materially, but spiritually.  I just cannot understand why, if these religions strive for a more enlightened way of existence, they cannot mutually coexist with each other. Agree to disagree, politely and lovingly, on the points of contention. The goal is simple: The end of religious hatred. It does not matter if, as Christianity and Islam teach, you believe that the Messiah and Messenger, Jesus (Isa, in Arabic) has come. He taught tolerance and love of one and other. Isalm teaches that we must lead a more spiritual holy life and not worship false idols. (The Kardashians and their ilk come to mind) Judaism teaches us to lead a spiritual life and to be kind and loving to each other and to love and protect your family. We all recognize the ten commandments as a good starting point on which to build our lives.  Still, we have people killing each other over religion.. not only different religions, but different interpretations of the SAME religions. This family mistrusts that family because they are Baptist, and that family is Episcopalian.  Jews and Islamists cannot, or will not, co-exist because they refuse to find common ground, even though they are standing on it. Right here, in the United States of America, a country that was founded on escape from religious intolerance, we have a Republican Party that is in chaos because of religion. Some find Mormons to be a cult. Some want to run the country according to the way that they believe everyone should believe. I find this to be outrageous and an affront to many of our founding fathers. Jefferson and Thomas Paine come immediately to mind. There is nothing wrong with being spiritual. Dictating the way a citizen must think in order to be spiritual is, in my opinion, just wrong.
 Which is why I featured the Dalai Lama's quote at the beginning to this blog. I will end the way that I started. "People take different roads seeking Fulfillment and Happiness. Just because they're not on your road, does not mean that they have gotten lost" - Dalai Lama
 That's my opinion, folks. No hate needed here, just love and peace.