One Bold Step

Everyone talks a great game about changing the world, or even just their lives, but courage, while free, comes with one price: action. I want to share my bold step with you, and, if you write to me with your bold step, and it's timely, I'll post it on my site every couple of weeks, if not more often.

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Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Director of Research for (aka: The Foundation Foundation). Formerly with Air America Radio Phoenix ("Froggy Went A Marchin..."). Sang the National Anthem at a rally in Phoenix with Cindy Sheehan. Loves: chocolate, flowers, perfume (my grandmother), great music, politics, and a whole-hearted appreciation of the truth (Are there really "conspiracy theories" or do we need more FOIAs?). Seeker of justice and agent for change.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Here I Go...

This is probably one of the bravest posts I will ever make, so I ask that you bear with me here. A lot of us are debating various religions and their principles these days, and rightly so. However, there is a tendency for people on both sides of the debate to qualify their beliefs. People who are against terrorism will often say that their own religions, be they Judaism, Christianity, Islam, or something else, do not, at heart, teach bad things like violence, rape, etc. as solutions to problems. People who try to deny terrorism or brush it aside will say that their religions are forgiving, peaceful, etc., etc.

The problem, here, is that religions are both good and bad -- just like most everything else in life. They are chronicles of the people that believe, as well as lists of beliefs. Judaism, for example, makes blatant statements about homosexuality, women, and slavery. Christianity has statements about women (I'm not Christian, but I do know about I Corinthians), and Islam (and, no, I'm not Muslim either, but I am familiar with some chapters of the Quran) does, at times, call for Jihad as the answer to dealing with "non-believers." There are also depictions of graphically violent acts in the Jewish Bible. There is at least explanation of justification of violence in the Quran, and Christianity has the violent belief, as well, that Jesus died to save his believers, even if this has ultimate implications of non-violence.

The point, here, is that we have to look at religion for what it is, and stop trying to paint it as one or the other. If we read our holy books critically, they can help us down the road to a better life. If we don't, and we accept everything verbatim, then we risk hurting many of our friends, family members, colleagues, and even ourselves. It is tempting to say that we want to get rid of religion all together, due to its negative effects, but this carries with it a slippery slope that we can trace back as recently as World War II and The Holocaust. Whenever we try to blame any religion or belief system for our problems, we just end up worse off than when we started. It's like the child who can never forgive his parents for anything. Even if they did do some bad things, continuing to blame them forever will hurt him the most in the end.

The solution to all this may ultimately end up being a radical acceptance of all different kinds of belief systems being parts of the overall heritage that each of us possesses in our lives. There are valuable lessons that certain groups can teach us. Modern Judaism, for example, can inspire people to accept that everyone on Earth deserves a home within it and a right to exist without fear of further genocide. Christianity teaches that we ought to forgive people as much as possible to prevent harm to ourselves and others. Islam, by teaching that Moses and Jesus were both past prophets, suggests that we can, indeed, accept that we have different ways of coming to many of the same conclusions in life for the better.

I can understand people wanting to emphasize the positive about our religions. Violence is not something worth teaching to anyone except as part of an overall history, cultural, or interpersonal lesson about how to avoid it. However, if we deny the violent history of all religions, then we risk only repeating it in the future. So long as we learn from the past, there is no reason to be ashamed of it. On this note, I encourage you to look at religion with a more objective eye and try to see it as a motivation to move forward as a species, if nothing else.


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