What Is Religion Worth?

I hear a lot of naysaying over RELIGION, and it is hard not to get caught up in the argument when I see religion being used in practices that are antithetic to the Teachings of the Holy Ones around whom these religions came into being.

A prime example are the American Evangelical Christians following one of the biggest con artists of all time in the next presidential contest. Another example are the Moslem terrorist extremists who blow themselves up to destroy those they hate.

Hatred breeds hatred. It is an easy thing to take a half truth and pad it with lies and have people believe you because it seems reasonable. And this is what certain priests and politicians do to manipulate the general populace into belief systems that maintain hatred of different groups of human beings who do not share the interests and goals of “our group.”

But if you really stop to think about it, and put yourself into the shoes of another person, many human beings on planet Earth are simply surviving, eking out a living, feeding their families, handling the challenges of life as they come up, one day at a time. Our so-called enemies are not so different from us. They are human, they were born and they will die. Just like us.

I can choose to not listen to the hatred. I can choose to truly think about what I hear and take in of all that people are saying. I have the clarity of conscience to not buy into what someone is saying just because they are saying it.

The Jesus I follow was a Jewish Rabbi whose prime message was Love. Sure, I’d go to war to protect my family and loved ones, but I would still question my leaders who put ideas into the public mindset that are contrary to what I hold true.

We have Israel today fighting a war in Gaza, because they got tired of terrorism and wanted to defend their people. So now we have a whole dynamic of conversation against Israel that is pro-Palestine. Hatred brought about its own mischief until the Israeli people saw no recourse but to take the fight to the terrorists.

In my opinion, to have RELIGION is to have Code of Ethics to live by. This is what you will stand by, even to your death. This is a very high thing, a holy thing, a noble thing, an integral thing. It is not just a Christian thing; it is a human thing. It belongs to any Religion that provides a Code to Live By so that we as human beings may strive to perfect ourselves in the sense of Being.

Very basically, if you look at RELIGION historically, it grew up around the Teachings of Holy Persons who incarnated at a specific time and place to elevate the human collective. The human species as a whole is evolving. There is a lot of talk among the spiritualist and new age communities these days about ascension and enlightenment. What does this all mean?

What I have come to understand in my own work on self is that each individual holds a role in the process of the whole. My personal ascension or lack thereof contributes to or detracts from the evolution of my species. The more people who are awakening consciously contribute to the dawning of the next stage of evolution of our species.

What this means to me, is that my struggles to be a more open, caring, and vulnerable human being pay off not just for myself, but for the human collective. Like all of us, I am a being of light and shadow. As I bring awareness into the shadow aspects of my own conditioned arising, I am able to hold more enlightened clarity in my life. As I face what I fear, I have the opportunity to overcome. If I deny that in myself, I deny Life in myself. I can either give Life to myself, or live as one dead.

My grandmother’s generation held an unspoken social rule, that you don’t insult a person’s religion. But if there is one religious tenet I will challenge, it is when people fail to see the beauty in one another’s faith. To have faith is to have a great jewel, the possession of strength in the midst of the enduring times, those times when lack is overwhelming, when one’s loved ones have passed over before their time due to war, disease, or other travail. We need hope, love, and faith to carry on. We need kindness, reciprocity, and sharing to overcome our differences with other people.

May this next story make my point. In my day job as a substitute school bus driver, I was having a wonderful conversation with a young man who had come to New York from Mexico, perhaps to escape the drug cartels. We were exchanging words, because I had forgotten much of the vocabulary of my childhood Spanish, but I wanted to communicate and learn. The fact that I was willing to try, made this boy’s eyes shine. To have me greet him in his native tongue enlightened his entire face.

Simultaneously, my Transportation Supervisor was trying to learn Spanish so that our staff could communicate safety on the bus and crossing the street to people whose cultural life experience was different from ours. She was having difficulty overcoming the reluctance of those among her staff opposed to immigration and who felt people ought to just speak English. I backed her efforts up, and now our entire staff of bus drivers are daily learning friendly words of Spanish.

I have often been guilty of failing to meet people where they are at. It helps to imagine one’s self into another person’s circumstance! People are escaping dictators, the hegemony of drug cartels, and leaving ways of life we would not want to endure, and all certain politicians can talk about is building a fence. Foreigners are walking to America through the wilderness of Nature and another wilderness of human deceit with great hope and faith to have a life of better promise.

I think it is all any one of us can do, when we are faced with the crap information that is out there, to do our best to sort out lie from truth, and to decide what it is we stand for. Hopefully, we will bridge our differences in improved communication for a better life for us all.


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