14 Dec Boomers Building tolerance- Understanding people of different religions
Terrorism in the name of religion, riots in god’s name, killing innocents for not worshipping a particular god, hatred or dislike for people of a particular religion, looking at worshippers of a certain god with suspicion….unfortunately such is the reality of today’s world.
Religion is a personal choice which is supposed to bring peace of mind and guide you to your life’s purpose. Loving god should encourage you to love everything he/she has created…yet why is there so much destruction and violence in the name of religion? Perhaps it’s because we focus on our differences more than our similarities. We look for ways to hate others because they are different from us. We use religion to create “Us” and “Them”. Religion is something that can actually unite all humanity; it’s only a matter of how we choose to view it.
Religions are like books with different covers, names and supposedly different philosophies, but if you read between the lines, you’ll observe that every religion promotes and encourages the same basic virtues. Let’s examine the similarities one by one:
*Reap as you sow- Every religion believes in this concept, though the names given to it may differ. While some call it sin, it’s known as Karma or the threefold principle in others. Whatever you call it, the basic principle remains the same; if you do or think of something that harms or hurts others, you will pay a price! Every religion in its own way encourages goodness. What constitutes goodness may be different, but again if you read between the lines and remove the layers of corrupt human interpretation you will realize that peace, kindness and love define goodness in its purest form.
* The Concept of soul- All religions believe that the soul is indestructible, though there may be different beliefs about what happens to the soul after death. Yet to all, the soul exists as a fundamental universal religious concept. If you believe in the soul you know it can’t be destroyed, then why attempt to destroy human lives, when you know you have no power over the soul? Why even try to destroy something that’s indestructible! Isn’t that acting against the will of any religion’s god?
* The purpose of life- Reaching god or becoming one with him is considered the purpose of life. Every religion may prescribe a different path to attain that goal, but the goal is essentially the same; reaching your creator, whether in heaven or by attaining salvation by becoming like him, free of the cycle of life and death.
Human interpretation has corrupted almost every religion; it has given us a reason to hate each other. We are told we are different because our religion insists that ours is the only god. Does that mean people who don’t follow our religion are not god’s children? How is that possible? We are all humans, we all have two eyes, two legs, two hands, and one nose…our skin colors may differ but our blood is all the same color! You wouldn’t hate your sibling if he called your father “papa” instead “dad”? Would you? Then why hate humans if they address their god by a different name? You wouldn’t hate your siblings if their philosophy of life was different from yours? Then why hate people who follow different religions?
There may be a lot of differences in the way we live and the philosophies we follow. We might also believe that we are headed towards different goals, after all Islam’s heaven is not the same as Christianity’s heaven which is different from a Hindu’s heaven, which is again unlike the Buddhist heaven, or Jewish heaven…yet if you ask yourself what heaven is, all religions believe it is a place of infinite bliss that only those of pure souls reach and hatred is the antithesis of purity.
There’s no denying that there are a lot of differences in the philosophies of religions, but if we learn to focus on our similarities instead of our differences, we’ll learn how to love and accept each other as fellow humans; children of god, even if they address him or her by different names!
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