Thursday, June 9, 2011

Religious Tolerance: Essential for Survival

Source: jmhullot
United we stand and divided we fall. This we know for sure. History has proven this statement true for as long as we humans have been recording it. So what is different this time?
This is the first time in recorded human history that we have had mass communication that allows every person, who has access to a computer connected to the Internet by a nationally neutral server, to have an uncensored voice. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on whether or not you hold a megalomaniacal view, that may be coming to an end for Americans. The American government can breathe more easily as they do already in North Korea and Thailand. But how to get people who love freedom on board with this? Aha! Let’s divide them.
There are writers who are more than willing to drink the fluoride and tow the party line if there is something in it for them. Isn’t that the American way? Sure it is! It’s called capitalism. So let’s capitalize on fear, ignorance, greed, and every other base human trait and say it’s in the name of God. Cool. I'll make money and anyone who disagrees with me is a heathen and a traitor. You don’t even have to be American to be a traitor to the United States anymore. The treatment of Julian Assange has paved the way for that one.
The rallying cry is Believers (in what, isn’t exactly clear in the article I read, since it was expanded shortly after publication from those who believe in Jesus Christ to now include Muslims and Jews ) versus Non-Believers.
Jews do not worship Jesus. Muslims do not worship Jesus. So now the article in question has become an inflammatory Us and Them except for those who can beat you up on the way home from school and those who shared their sandwich with you. If you automatically typecast on that one, shame on you.
The last time I’ve seen something quite this simple was on the elementary school playground during recess and today, we call that behavior bullying.
This article names Buddhists as being among those in the enemy camp. This probably comes as no surprise to the Dalai Lama, which may be why he is trying to lead his people to religious tolerance and harmony. I’m not sure, but I imagine Gandhi is also on the kaka list since Hinduism was not mentioned among the good and true. Neither are the native Americans. In fact, their beliefs are clearly listed as among the opposition.
History remembers tirades like this. People were killed, holy places burned, and suspicion reigned supreme so that unscrupulous and manipulative people could gain and maintain control.
Jesus was not a bully as far as I know. He embraced strangers, told stories of working together to make life better for everyone and not once embraced and endorsed a political party. He did have an issue with those in positions of power who used beliefs to manipulate people and maintain political control.

What would Jesus do?

Well, let’s look at what Jesus did instead of making it up to gain HubPage views or votes. He had a lot of issues with both the Pharisees and Sadducees and found himself in conflict with them most of the time. Who were these people?
The Sadducees were mostly the aristocrats of the day and they were usually wealthy and held powerful positions. The ruling council was called the Sanhedrin and Sadducees held the majority of seats. They usually went along with Rome’s decisions and were more concerned with politics even though they maintained a pious view and were more conservative when it came to the Word of God. They gave authority to only the written Word. It is also important to note that what they actually did was often at odds with the scripture they held holy.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, gave the oral tradition equal authority. The Sadducees often had to go along with the more liberal ideas of the Pharisees because the common man related much more with this party.
Muslim prayers
Muslim prayers
Holy Baptism in the Roman Catholic Church
Holy Baptism in the Roman Catholic Church
Source: Melchior 2006
Dalai Lama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, October 2007, Washington DC
Dalai Lama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, October 2007, Washington DC
Source: Mark Peters on Flickr
Hindu marriage ceremony
Hindu marriage ceremony
Jewish chaplain conducts services aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln
Jewish chaplain conducts services aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln

Political & Religious Arenas

While both parties can be commended for doing the best job they knew how to do, let’s not neglect the blatant similarities to today’s American Conservatives and Liberals or Republicans and Democrats. Why do some people think Jesus would feel any differently now than he did then?
Remember the old adage “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”? There you have it. What you think, imagine, or believe does not count. What you do counts. If it works to bring people together in harmony, it is by nature in keeping with the teachings of many great men, Jesus among them.
Can you think of anything more insidious and quite frankly, evil, than dividing and judging people according to their thoughts and ideas? George Orwell covered that quite nicely in his novel 1984. His timing was off slightly but the message is one to heed. The Internet is like the modern Garden of Eden. You have free will and can write and read whatever you like but remember that ultimately, it is what you do that counts. If you use this gift to cause harm by dividing people, according to all major religions, it will not go well for you.
Remember, we do not have the answers. We have only guidelines. If you are a person who holds the Bible as a holy book, then you know that to be true. You do not have the answers. We are told that now we see through a glass darkly. Does it really take being hit over the head with a 2 x 4 to understand that WE DON’T KNOW. The paradox is that to assume otherwise is to challenge the very God you are striving to believe in.
The books are here to read and learn how societies can work better if we make laws that follow a certain mode of behavior.
I may choose to believe some ideas to be true but that does not make them true for everyone. What matters to me more is how we behave day to day.
How we treat this earth matters more than whether God created it in seven days or it is the result of a big cosmic bang. Respect the earth.
How we treat each other matters more than whether we are all the result of incest or of evolution. Respect each other.
If you believe you have found a good path, then by all means share it by your actions and not your dogma. Share what you have with your neighbor who is in need. Share your gifts to make the world brighter than it was before your birth.
These problems are not new. The fighting and bickering over what makes a real Christian and what the emerging church esteemed goes back a long way. Paul addressed exactly this issue in his letter to the Corinthians while attempting to convert them to Christianity.
Jesus did not address any such thing - ever!
Religion and politics do not mix. Keep them separate or they will both be denigrated. When they become one and the same, they are both defeated.
1 Corinthians 12:1-10
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

What do I take from this?

It’s simple. We know nothing of the workings of the universe so for now, just shut up, do the right thing, and be the best person you know how to be without hurting anyone else. Regardless of doctrine, you’ve been shown a way, not given the key to the entire universe.
Wait a minute! Isn’t that a Buddhist directive? Yes, it is.
This hub is not to ridicule or deride anyone for their beliefs, but it is certainly meant to deride those who use honest people and religion as an excuse for control, power, war, or personal gain.
If your perception of God has a trick question section, shame on you! And shame on me for giving you page views and comments. I will not change anything by challenging your words and engaging in a pedantic dance. Change may occur if I accord you respect as a human being. Instead of finding fault with you, I could appeal to you to be your personal best and assure you that you do not have to diminish others in order to further your own journey.
Let's all have some respect and start behaving in a way that reflects the true values of the real people of a free world. Right now we have a voice. Let's use it! Together we are a choir. Divided we are only voices crying in the wilderness.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What is Politically Correct?

More and more statements are coming under fire for wording that is being viewed as politically incorrect. I think we all agree that negative statements about specific people, cultures, or belief systems validly falls into this category but in some cases, are we going too far?
On the contrary, perhaps we are not going far enough.
(Badly drawn conclusions by SilverGenes)

(Badly drawn conclusions by SilverGenes)
The sign above is not politically correct. Although it does not identify in writing any particular species as being a predator, the illustration clearly indicates a shark. Is this fair? That depends on your view. Fairness, like pornography, is a question of geography. Is it politically correct? Absolutely not. The dangerous marine life might be a shark but one could put forth the argument that it may just as easily be a jellyfish, crab, moray eel, or a psychotic sea cucumber. Let's be very clear. It is no longer considered correct to insinuate in any way that there are any differences in people, places, celebrations or events unless, of course, you include and embrace ALL people, places, celebrations or events.
Let's study the box of crayons below.

Source: Nathan Gibbs
Kermit and friend  clubbing in Aspen.
Kermit and friend clubbing in Aspen.
Source: Asparagirl
Not a company to miss out on opportunity, Crayola has issued their special Multicultural pack that includes eight skin tones innocuously named white, apricot, peach, mahogany, tan, burnt sienna, sepia and black. Weren’t these colors already included in the original pack? Yes, indeed they were, but someone at Crayola had the bright idea to use our social insecurities as marketing tools. However, it occurs to me that this sort of thinking serves to divide and categorize people even further on a prejudicial basis. And does anyone on earth have white or black skin color? No. We are all varying shades of brown.
Naughty, naughty, Crayola! In their bid for political correctness, they are flagrantly politically incorrect. I could write them a nasty letter but wouldn’t have a clue as to what color crayon to use. I thought perhaps green would be safe but then remembered that sad song by Kermit the frog, or rather I should say, Kermit the amphibian species.
So instead, I am posting a lovely little poem by Emily Dickenson with the appropriate political corrections in italics.
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like an amphibian species
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring dryness-challenged area!

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse

Source: C. K. Hartman