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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Guess what? Religion. Again.

I'll try to explain myself before anyone tries to put up a wall. I do NOT think that faith is wrong, if you read my other "Religion" post, you'll see it's quite the opposite. I have love and respect for real faith - faith not based on fear, hate or any combination of the two.

Times are rough. Everybody is out to get your freedom, provided you didn't vote for them. Everybody else is the problem. No one feels responsible for their own attitudes anymore. It's carrying over to religion as well. A certain percentage of any ideology, be it faith, politics, Star Trek vs. Star Wars, will have these people. When times get tougher, those people get louder. Sometimes they recruit others.

Despite how it looks on social networks, many, if not most, of religious folks are highly tolerant, and even full of love and forgiveness. It's that sort of peace that keeps these folks out of the highly-charged rhetoric. That is why I cannot disparage faith. It's not faith/religion/Brand X(tm) that is the problem. It's always people. If religion never existed, zealots would find a different way of justifying hatred of what they fear.

I'll say it plainly: it is fear that drives people toward despicable action. It's human nature to fear what we don't know. It kept us alive when we didn't know that a bear was in that cave, and we didn't find out because we were afraid. Fear, to a degree, has it's place. Fear of pain, of death, of what we don't know. Being afraid, it's hard for some to keep an open mind and learn. Alright, it's hard for everybody at some point. It's something we all share. Some people let the fear rule them, and justify it by letting other people tell them what to think. So-and-so told me if xxxx then I'll be rewarded in the afterlife. No personal accountability. Also, no real looking into one's heart and reaching out, unbidden, to be a better person.

Religion, in and of itself, is hardly irresponsible, though. One of the best ways to preach your religion is by living it, not saying it. Especially in troubled times. We need balance. We don't all know that we know we need it, but we know. It's instinct. If someone has peace and happiness, the real stuff, it shows. We want to know what they know. We then listen, not just hear, what they believe. It beats being yelled at by a street preacher or end-timer.

When you worry too much about feeling better than someone, and explaining why you are better, or just that they are somehow worse, you move to using faith as little more than an excuse to feel how you want, anyway. When you adopt a humility that allows you to question your faith, and you're willing to change what you believe, then you use faith to guide your beliefs, and the answers you wind up getting out of questioning said faith are overwhelmingly positive.

That makes for a huge disconnect in people that claim to believe the same thing.

Notice I didn't accuse Christians or Muslims or anything else I might not be. People under any and every label have the same option.

You know what? People have done bad things in the name of Islam. You know what else? People have done bad things in the name of Christianity. You know what else? People have done bad things in the name of atheism. I could go on, but if you've read this far, you get it.

It really isn't up to any of us to judge others based on what we might hear on TV or social media. Or based on anything else. If we don't understand something, we should strive to understand it. Not block it, or tell people they are wrong.

Faith is belief, not knowledge. Faith can be just as strong, though. Even though we may fear it, we have to accept that what we decide we believe can be as wrong as anything else. It's also that knowledge and acceptance combined with enduring faith that makes for a truly good human being, regardless of what label you use.

In the end, it's words. Old words, new words. Words translated with various intentions over the years. Who's to say anyone should suffer forever because they used the wrong one?

Don't give your faith to politics. Politicians ruin everything.