Throughout the history of humanity we have forged the answer to our spiritual or theological question with a plethora of disparate answers: polytheism, monotheism, animism, atheism, universalism, humanism and a variety of other answers that also come in a wide variety of very specific flavors. So many religions, beliefs, spiritual or aspiritual paths that are in the world that are given credence by many different cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities. Some examples of these more specific answers are as follows:
Unitarian Universalist, Catholic, Orthodox, Christian, Mormon, Methodist, Presbyterian, Muslim, Pagan, Wicca, Druid, Witchcraft, Buddhist, Hindu, Zen, Bahai Faith, Quaker, Spirit or Ancestor Worship, etc… We also have the Agnostics, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Secularists and a whole bunch more that I am not going to name for the sake of brevity.
What was the predominant ‘answer’ before Christianity rose to the forefront – Polytheism. The worship of multiple deities such as was found in the Norse, Celtic, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Persian, and Sumerian cultures as well as many others in the days of yore. How can we can we reconcile this in our predominately monotheistic world? How does all of this variety make any sense? Polytheism exist today in the pagan/wiccan religions as well as other faiths, while Christianity is still one of the most dominant and forceful answers – and yet there are still these other answers to humanity’s need for an answer to ‘that question‘ than burns inside of us all in one way or another.
Evangelists of a faith will often say that they are right and the one true answer and that if you do not follow their belief that nasty things happen to you either now or after you have passed on. We are right be cause our sacred religious text says so. What makes any one religion the one true religion that will offer you your salvation (assuming that is what you are looking for)? How will you know? How can anyone know for sure? Humanity is divided into many religions and (a)spiritual paths, and many people preach their path in an ‘us verses everyone else‘ mentality – the ‘we are right and you are going to hell‘ religious elitism that segregates and divides us as a people and puts us at odds with one another, much to our detriment.
Within a Single Faith No One Completely Agrees on How that Faith is Defined:
No two people can completely agree as to how a specific religion should be practiced in-toto. Each person has their own version of what is right and wrong for their religious beliefs and that is steeped in opinions, misinterpretations, biases, prejudices, and life experiences. Many of the mainstream beliefs are agreed upon but once you get past that it is a wholly different game. If the leaders and faithful of a given religion cannot agree about what it is to truly practice or be a member of their proclaimed religion how can they not be divided? How can they be one? How can there be one true theological or spiritual answer if everyone cannot agree even within their chosen faith?
Who is right? Who is wrong?
We are humans. We are all the brothers and sisters of humanity: Black, White, Chinese, African, Irish, Protestant, Wiccan, Hippy, Liberal, Socialist, Libertarian, Freak, Queer, Straight, Cloistered, Free, Obese, Skinny, Forlorn, Optimistic. However you want to label someone, their lifestyle, their beliefs, or appearance does not matter because at the end of the day we all bleed the same. We all are human – fallible, mistake ridden, arrogant, biased and loving. Our cultures value being right and believe that if I am right than someone else has to be wrong and therefore inferior or somehow lesser. This belief that there is always a right and a wrong is part of the problem as it leads to division, superiority, contempt, and fear.
How can life be so cleanly defined with so many different beliefs? Life is more about shades of gray. People within a faith cannot agree as to what it means in-toto how to worship in their faith how can there be a clearly defined right or wrong. To one person something may be right and to another it is wrong and even have very well thought out rationalizations for it. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone likes to think that they are right and by virtue, someone else has to be wrong. And even some want to kill, torture, and enslave you because they think you are wrong and that somehow you need to be punished or saved from your conviction or lack thereof.
I value intelligent discourse about theology and (a)spirituality, and am willing to change my views in light of a better understanding, but I guarantee you that if you try to force your beliefs on me that I will not acquiesce and resist anything that you have to say, especially if you threaten my safety of the safety of the people that I care about. Enacting divisive behavior only begets the same – more divisiveness.
You are Wrong and You are Right.
I propose to you today that you are all wrong about your theological views. I also propose that you are also right. You are right to believe that your faith is right for you, but you are wrong to believe that your faith is what is right for anyone else. You are also wrong to believe that another person’s religion is wrong, because it is wrong for you. Having the ability to impose and force your beliefs onto someone or a peoples does not make it any more correct or right. You will have only sown fear and anger into those that you subject you beliefs upon while pushing them further from ‘your answer‘.
We need to celebrate that we have different answers and bask in the glory of diversity. We are human and we all have a (a)spiritual or theological belief. We are not all going to agree even if we are of the same faith. I want you to talk about religion, theology, or spirituality with like minded and different minded people. Find your commonalities and differences and accept them. Their religions’ views are different than yours and that is OK because everyone’s is going to be different in one way or another and that does not make it wrong. It just makes it different. Our religious beliefs are as varied and similar as we humans are ourselves.
Divisiveness is the true enemy of our happiness as a species and I do not just mean religious divisiveness: national and sexual, ethnic and racial, cultural and monetary. We need to break down the divisions and prejudices in humanity so that we can all be truly free and safe. We need to accept and try to understand one another, and accept that we may not agree on many issues, but that does not make us wrong, just different. Racial and ethnic prejudice as well as religious are among the greatest crimes against humanity that needs to be stopped.
Wars and civil crimes are being committed with prejudice, fear, and hatred as its impetus and this is a horrible and unforgivable crime that we all have to stop. Every single human being has the power to make a difference, but you have to want to make a difference. I do not mean the difference of creating divisions of humanity, I mean the difference of love, acceptance, and healing. Take a moment right now and make the pledge to make a difference: to love one another and to be able to agree to disagree; for it to be OK to not have the same theological beliefs; to fight prejudice and fear in your heart and replace it will love and acceptance. Anything other than that and you be part of the problem. We are all part of the problem just by virtue of being human. We are not perfect and can never be, but we can strive to set as good example by changing how we think and how we act towards one another.