Religions are based on spiritual messages filtered through human channels, each with their own backstories and biases. As the messages manifest in the physical world, there are bound to be details that are specific to that human’s framework of experience and understanding. Their life experiences will color how they translate the messages, the result being that other people will see it differently, through the lens of their own perspective. As cultures collided, people latched on to these differences rather than realizing the underlying sameness of their beliefs. To find the space of understanding is the mission now.
The most pressing issue here is the divisiveness that has existed around religion. The feeling that it’s us versus them, and that we are somehow better or more enlightened than the other. Self-righteousness is a trap that prevents compassion and increased awareness. Ironically, as soon as someone points the finger at someone else for self-righteous behavior, they too are embodying it, and so falling into the trap. They are making that person the “other.” “I can’t believe they think they are right and everyone else is wrong,” we say, and in taking that stance, are doing the exact same thing. Of course, everyone thinks they are right. They are. In accordance with their experience, their perspective and their understanding of the world. We are all right. There is room for all of us to be right. We were all given a diversity of experiences and points of consciousness so that we can see the world differently in a prism of colors and frequencies. Is one color of the rainbow more right than another? Is purple more correct than orange? Is one musical note more enlightened than another? Don’t be ridiculous, you say. Well, that’s how we act. As if one person’s views carry more merit than any others. No matter how outrageous or repugnant they may seem, everyone’s perspective has merit. It’s a stripe in the endless rainbow of human experience. No one can really be wrong. It’s just an outlook shaped by their experiences and belief patterns. Walk a mile in their shoes.
Strong opinions are popular and appealing. People love to have strong opinions, especially in our country. It makes us feel smart, gets us fired up. But taking strong oppositional stances based on our opinions is creating a rift in our society. Many rifts. It’s hard to agree with anyone on everything. Talk to them enough and you are bound to find things you disagree on. So we stop talking, afraid to find something that will cause us to confront the divide. Most of us don’t like conflict. So we avoid topics that will be controversial. It’s too messy, too emotional. Unless we are on the other side of a computer screen or we know we are in the company of those who agree with us. But how productive is that? Wouldn’t it be better to disarm ourselves from our opinions long enough to engage in a conversation with someone of an opposing view long enough to understand where they are coming from? It might be helpful to ask them about it in a quiet moment when there are no public battles to be won, with only the goal of human to human understanding. It takes courage to open up your heart and create space for these kinds of discussions. So often, we see them take place in the forum of political debate, in staunch opposition, with huge stakes on the line. But we don’t win any badges of honor by proving ourselves right on these topics. We are the people. We can decide to take up the mantle of understanding rather than that of hatred. Ego separates. Communication brings together.