A Fish Out of Water...
I was very surprised when I wrote a post for my blog called Why I Don't Have a God. The comments on the post were surprisingly respectful, and a lot of people were very tolerant of my views, despite the fact that their own views are different. I'm not usually one to talk about religion, mostly because when I bring it up, I get trampled on and questioned. I don't like to label myself as a certain religion, simply because I'm not sure there is one that fits what I believe. I don't believe in the Christian God. I believe in an after life, but not Heaven or Hell. I don't believe that there is some sort of divine guidance in my life - I believe in fate and destiny. I could type a whole post, or ten, about my beliefs. But that isn't what I'm here to talk about today. I want to talk about tolerance.
I have been told that I am a rare breed. Not just because I practice freedom from organized religion, but because I do it AND I am tolerant and respectful of the beliefs of others. I was having a religious debate with an acquaintance of mine a while back. She was VERY hardcore Christian. When I told her about my beliefs, she was shocked. Appalled, even. She asked me how I could NOT believe there was a God, and I said, "I just have a hard time believing in something I have never seen, felt, or have proof of existence of." She proceeded to tell me a very long story about a time that she was a youth leader at the bible camp she attended all her childhood. I can't remember the details, and she threatened my very being if I told her soul a story, but it basically came down to the fact that she was praying very hard about something and that she actually SAW God, and heard him talking to her. It was basically her story trying to convince me that He was indeed real. And instead of being an asshole, and saying, "Oh... were you drinking the Kool-Aid they were passing around that night?" I said, "Wow... That must have been incredible for you. It must be a great feeling to have your faith validated like that." There was no debate. There was no "You're right and I'm wrong." There was just tolerance.
My husband and I have been having some problems in our marriage lately, and someone suggested that we watch the movie Fireproof, and do the book called The Love Dare (if you haven't heard about it, check out this post). Going into it, we knew that it was based on Christianity but several friends told us to just change the religious parts so that it applies more to us. Last night, my husband was reading excerpts from The Love Dare. Being a non-Christian, but never having read the Bible, he was amazed at all of the quotes and passages that applied to how he was living his life now, even though he isn't Christian. It sparked a long debate about how almost all religions boil down to the same things:
Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10 (Bible)
With a boundless mind one could cherish all living beings, radiating friendliness over the entire world, above, below, and all around without limit. (From the Maitri Sutra - Buddhist)
Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have no driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice." (Quran 60:8)
Let my worship be within the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. Therefore, let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you. (Charge of the Goddess - Wiccan)
Love and Respect.
It's just how we go about it, and what motivates us to live our lives that way that makes the difference. So tell me... What makes us so different, you and I?