As I catch up on my Sunday morning social media updates, news and posts about kittens and baby elephants being saved, I’m reminded that in my adopted home (the land of the free), there are still so many people who are willingly engaging in a hateful discourse about groups of people.
I’m a believer in the Golden Rule, the basic human concept that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. This rule is contained in every form of religion that exists today in one way or another. It is the foundation of what I hold to be true. It does not belong to any one religion or faith tradition, but to all.
So many people who profess to be religious do not appear to believe in this very basic concept, or at the least believe that the rule doesn’t apply to what they say, but in how people should treat them. Religion has been distorted to fit the needs of the individual, and to fit with what they believe to be true, regardless of what their religious writings may say.
Not one religion is perfect. Not one religion is more important than the other. No religion is closer to a “Supreme God” than any other. There is no hotline, and there are no favorites. This is my reality. It is also the reason why I am not part of any organized religion.
For many, many people their faith is what keeps them grounded. For most of these people, their belief in the Golden Rule exists, and leads them on their journey every day. I am very thankful that I have many people who I consider very good friends who live their lives this way. They honor their religion by the way they live their lives every day.
And then I know other people, who don’t. Sadly, too many people.
I’ve never met a Hindu extremist. I’ve never met a Buddhist extremist. I’ve never met a Jewish extremist. I’ve never met a Muslim extremist. Who I have met, are Christian extremists. Many, many times. I’m not saying that the other religions don’t have their “rebels” or extremists (and there is enough proof of their existence every day), but it is the Christian extremism that dominates the airwaves – even today.
Since the creation of the “one God” proselytizing religions by men, the world has become less safe. Rather than coexisting with their fellow human beings, too many people share a belief that their God is the true God, and want to make share in that belief. Believing this, men have fought wars; killing untold numbers of people – all in the name of “their God.”
History reminds us that the Jews were persecuted (multiple times), and their beliefs grew stronger, their resolve increased and their religion survived. Christians were persecuted, and their beliefs grew stronger, their resolve increased and their religion (and different fragments of it) survived. Muslims are now being persecuted, their belief continue to grows, their resolve continues to increase, and their religion will also survive. The side effect of all this is that with each time that history repeats, religious fanaticism grows along with it.
I’m not advocating in any way the actions of the fanatics in our world today, but I do recognize that “we” (through the ages) have created every one of them. What is important to note is that it is not just jihadists who use the Islamic religion to justify their actions. Christians (or people who proclaim to be followers of Christ) have long used their religion to justify actions to murder innocent people; to hang African-Americans from trees until their life was taken from them, to burn people alive because they believed they were witches, to kill children due to the belief that evil existed in them, and the genocide that was committed against nations of people. All in the name of Christ.
If we go back to the fundamental belief in the Golden Rule, then no religion should ever be permitted to hide behind words to commit atrocities in the name of their faith. That is not what I believe Jesus Christ taught:
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. (Luke 10:25-28)
Nor is it what I believe the Prophet Mohammed taught:
That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.(Sukhanan-i-Muhammad)
Many religious teachings all have verses that could be seen to advocate violence. Most of these same teachings also have words that suggest eating shellfish is wrong, wearing cotton and leather together is wrong, women should always be subservient to men, or seeing a woman’s ankles is wrong. We have evolved in many ways and adapted to understand that these writings could have been relevant at the time they were transcribed, but are less relevant (or no longer applicable) today.
However, I would argue that the Golden Rule is always applicable. It is the simplest most effective way to live your life, and given that it exists in all of the world religions, it is not something that should be so easily ignored.
So pardon me if I remind you that your language is hateful when you disagree with a group of people, or you start to demand that one group of human beings be treated differently to how you would want to be treated, just because they don’t share your religious views. If it is good enough for you, then it is good enough for everyone else. Everyone needs to learn to live with that basic understanding, and maybe – just maybe – the world has a chance of being a better place.