The Commanalities and the Differences

If we throw out all the creeds, dogmas, and names of the deities and only concentrate on what is left, might we not come to find a true religion of hope, love, and charity? This struck me a couple of times in the past few days. Once was during the morning’s sermon at my church. And yes, for those of you who may be bewildered, Unitarian churches can have sermons. Anyway, this sermon was on love and inclusion. One of the things that struck me was a statement that, “we find enemies when we ourselves feel weak or unsure.” That really hit a cord. Yes, this can certainly be taken on a national level, but I won’t go into that here – at least not yet. Chuch Organ - The Commonalities and the Differences

What I really thought about was my personal relationships. Many of the people I have bad feelings toward are not bad people at all. They can’t be. They have nice friends and families and live fine lives. So perhaps the reasons for some of my feelings come from the fact that something about them makes me feel weak. Or points out insecurity in myself.

Now, if we take that further and look at why some religions are so venomous in their attacks on others, we may find the same thing. An article in The New York Times yesterday talks about the shifting faiths of the American people. What would make an organized religion feel weaker or more threatened than members leaving the ranks? Perhaps by looking at those people or groups that we dislike or even hate we can find out what our weaknesses or vulnerabilities are.

Finally take that a step further. When we now those problems, when we have found what it is about the other that triggers those distasteful feelings, it is then that we can rise above them. We can move beyond those problems to find our commonalities. We can move beyond the dogmas, creeds, dress, and dance to find that we are focused on the same thing. For example, what do most major religions care about? Be they Eastern or Western, the core of most religions is love, good works, care for the family and community, and the importance of world beyond one’s own self. Concentrate on those things, and maybe we won’t feel so threatened. And if we feel less threatened, maybe we will have fewer enemies.

Tolerance versus Acceptance

Would you rather be tolerated or accepted?  Interestingly enough this question came up twice in the past few days.  Both discussions were basically about our current religious and political climate.  While there are many who constantly talk about what a tolerant society we have, I argue that although they may be the case, what we should be striving for is to become a more accepting society.

If you tolerate something or someone, you are basically just putting up with thing or person. They may be on the brink of what you “can take”, but you allow them to exist because it is either not critical to get rid of them, inconvenient to do so, or something such as a law is constraining you. You don’t like whatever it is you tolerate, but you just let it be.

On the other hand, if you accept something you not only are putting up with it, but there is a degree of understanding and permission.  It I accept a you as an individual, not only am I tolerating you  but I am going beyond that. I am showing an acceptance of who you are and at least some sort of agreement to help you with whatever it is you trying to be. When I accept a that a good friend is gay or lesbian, I am not just tolerating that person, but I am making an active statement to understand them.

So, as we look at the presidential campaign and as we here the voices of tolerance, ask yourself, shouldn’t we be going beyond tolerance? Shouldn’t we be going beyond putting up with our friends and neighbors? Instead, I think we should accept those friends and neigbors. We should accept the gay and lesbian community. We should accept the people of different faiths and those of no faith at all.

And therefor I ask you once again, would you rather be tolerated or accepted?