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.
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.