Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Religion and Politics

I have held a pretty strict policy that I would not write about religion or politics on this very public blog. I believe that people are free to believe as they choose and that we should actually encourage people to think for themselves, to really get in touch with what they think and to be confident that whatever is right for them is good. I also believe that over time your beliefs evolve based on what you have experienced.  I do not have the same experiences as anyone else, so why in the world would I ever assume that I had the right to tell someone else what to believe? But today is a day that I feel I must speak up.

I would have to say that almost all of my beliefs regarding how to treat other people were formed because of my parents' teaching, and a lot of that is based in Christian doctrine. While my approach to life has changed somewhat and I have sought out a more universal way of loving people, I am proud of the way that I treat others and grateful for this influence, because I want my friends, family and community to know that I really care, unconditionally.  I want people to know that they can find support in me, because I know just how valuable genuine kindness is to me. It changes me. It helps me to be happy, at peace with myself and to feel that I can do anything. It also gives me the energy to pass that on to the rest of the world. This is not dependent upon a religious belief. This is inspired by wanting to give as much love as my humanity will allow, and I often find the perception of people judging me to be a real hindrance in that process. I worry and focus more on that fear than on what I have to give and how to give it.

When we tell people that they are incomplete or wrong because they choose to eat or not to eat at a certain restaurant today, we are imposing our own judgement upon them. This is the basis of the entire problem. Because we are so afraid of people being different or having a belief other than our own, we become indignant and dig in even deeper. We firmly stand our ground in our beliefs, because if we don't, we're afraid that someone else (or some other belief) will win out and then things will change. We fear that we aren't being true to God or each other by accepting or even tolerating an alternative lifestyle into the mix. In the process, we are holding each other back. For the record, I don't believe tolerance to be the goal. Loving and accepting are the goals.

Our fear can easily become someone else's, because we project it all over those we encounter. Is that really what you want to give people? I know that we all need to speak up for what we believe; otherwise, progress would never come. But the intention and belief I have is this: We will only be at a more advanced place in life when we can accept people for who they are without judgement. Instead of seeing someone for their color, religion or sexual preference, why not see them as valuable for their contributions to this world? Why not see them as a work in progress, like we all are, and as a fellow human being? Judge them for their kindness, creativity and generosity, if you must judge.

We are holding ourselves back by refusing to open our hearts to those around us. We could be so much more than we are. We could accomplish so much if we spent less time hung up on differences and we could love so much more fully if we saw past the fears that ensnare us. I have hope that someday we can get to a place where we quit trying to change each other and start to embrace each other as we are. I believe this is the key to changing the world because the friends and family that have accepted me as I am and who have loved me no matter what...they are the ones who have changed my world and helped me to grow. I believe that I can do so much more than even a year ago, and as a result, I have more to give. Don't you want to do that for everyone? Can you imagine how much happier this world (and state) would be if everyone had the freedom to love themselves as they are?

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