Each day, relentlessly there is some dire situation around the world that overshadows us. It is sometimes labelled as politics but in general often coalesces around our spiritual philosophies which when defined by rules can also be called our religion. Some religions cannot seem to escape violence and aggression. The two which immediately spring to mind are Christianity and Islam although many others have fought for recognition as well, pun intended.
It is interesting to me how we can associate strongly some religions with peace and tranquility (the Buddhist monks of Tibet come to mind) and yet others seem to appear regularly in the news for their anger and judgements more so than their love and good works. It is not that there is an absence of love and good works but something is amiss. And we know these are not the values to which the majority of their followers aspire so what is it that separates rather than unifies us?
Perhaps I have it wrong. In my world view a religion should be known for what it stands for not who or what it stands against. Yet it would appear that often both Christians and Muslims (to use the largest and somewhat adversarial religions) appear to fight against each other more similar to armies than congregations. Each claim to be the largest religions. Each claim to be the fastest growing. Each claims to be the true religion.
The Florida church that burned the Koran is a prime example of the aggression tolerated albeit not celebrated by the Christian faith. Did the church get ex-communicated? Was there a joint statement from the world associations of Christians unilaterally condemning these actions? No there was not. Why? I believe it is because the 1,900 or so factions of Christianity have been fighting so long against each other that they cannot find a common ground. People complain the United Nations cannot seem to get anything done but for a religion that purportedly has a deity that is supposedly unifying it is amazing how they are not able to even maintain harmony within their own family. Unfortunately this appears to lead them into the temptation of aggression against those who do not hold their beliefs. I am sure there are equally damning stories for all the world religions so do not be feeling righteous if you read this and happen to be of another faith. Let he who is without mistake throw the first stone! Smile.
For some reason these two particular religions, not exclusively, have not been able to convince their members to love more and fight less. Why? They generally do not promote it so how does it happen? I believe it all starts with language. And so that is what I want to talk to you about today. Be careful of what you speak, to whom you speak and how you speak. It is important.
Think of how easily we can create harmony when we use terms like “I believe” or “in my religion”, instead of absolute terms which are aggressive and exclusive such as “the word of God” or “the lord and saviour”. If he/she/it is your lord and saviour that is excellent and the rest of us hope you enjoy being saved but it is just your tradition and 95% of the time it is not even a chosen tradition it is in fact an inherited tradition. I have often said had I been born in India I would most likely be Hindu, had I been born in China I would most likely be Bhuddist why on earth would I believe Christians had the “right” interpretation. It was simply the common one for white folks in the 1960’s in Canada and actually followed my family here from Scotland before Canada was even a nation.
So please, please, please celebrate and commemorate or even postulate about your beliefs. I am all for the expression and sharing of ideas, philosophies and traditions as it weaves a much richer tapestry into society. But when you do, if you do, please own it as your own and make sure that your language identifies it as your belief and not a required belief. After all, there is not one proven religion and even members of the same religion rarely agree on the tenets so why would the rest of us. In truth there is only one philosophy the vast majority of us are trying to follow. We each want to live a life we love to live. And so we can and so we shall.