Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Why can’t we all just get along…

September 8th, 2009 · 3 Comments

religious symbols

…simply because we allow our differences to overpower our commonalities. As both groups and individuals we spent a ridiculous amount of time investigating and calculating the differences between who/what we are and who/what we are not.

For example:

From the moment we are born, traditionally, we are dressed in colors that represent our assigned gender. Those wearing anything different must then be who/what we are not. From that moment on, we are being taught to differentiate people by the category of gender.

What happens when we grow up to realize that we are all, actually, just human? A definite challenge that will continue to trouble our society and many more societies to come. Religion, is a complex term that encompasses multiple definitions, it all depends on perspective. It can simply be a devotion or, as described by Kile Jones (a Ph.D student at the University of Glasgow (i found his quote while doing some research on the meaning of religion), “It is apparent that religion can be seen as a theological, philosophical, anthropological, sociological, and psychological phenomenon of human kind. To limit religion to only one of these categories is to miss its multifaceted nature and lose out on the complete definition.” Jones definition clearly being  a more complex one, suits my personal ideas of religion.

A “phenomenon of human kind” which only exists to further divide our global population into sectors that have indefinitely branched from one another, to define our purpose in life. I would like to state that if I had to choose a religious denomination I would categorize myself as an atheist, for I do believe that “God” (when defined as the Supreme being, creator and ruler of all) is a human-made construct. Thus, I am aware that religious ideas and believes are made up of layers after layers of tradition, philosophical, sociological and anthropological values, therefore, I attempt to understand them (from an analytical/academic perspective).

When reading the various world religions profiles on BBC news I realized that they are all not so different from each other. Lets take Christianity and Islam, the two with the most followers in the world, both are monotheistic religions that have existed for thousands of years, are based on a holy book and teachings of God’s prophets. Christian believes can also be found in Santeria, which borrows some religious sense from Christian practices. Like Santeria, Rastafarians worship in ways that are somewhat uncommon, for instance, Rastafairians smoke marijuana to enhance their spiritual connection with their God, meanwhile Santerians sacrifice animals for their God. Both marihuana and animal scarification are illegal in the United States. These are only a few of the multiple comparisons that can be drawn along multiple religious practices and believes. They are all so similar and yet so different.

[Sometimes I want to ask people: Since when do you believe in your “God”? When did you decide that this is the “God” that you wanted to believe in? If you’ve believed in that religion your entire life, then someone had to decide for you… right? So you’ve been taught to believe in something that you never decided to believe in. It has been taught to you why? I think it’s all about power and control, and so many are immersed in a religious world that will never allow them to answer the above questions for themselves, after all, I may just be tempting “evil” thoughts!]

Sometimes, I wish we could break through religious barriers, bring down the walls of churches and temples and unite everyone under one roof of religious acceptance (not fake tolerance). Maybe if we start by deconstructing gender norms and stop dressing our children in either blue or pink when they are born, then that could be the first step towards deconstructing a religiously segregated world. After all, various religions still evoke a gender hierarchy in their practices, such as Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam are four religions which are obviously male-oriented. For example: In Christianity women are not allowed to become priests (a position of respect and religious power within the church), in Hinduism women are not allowed to become either monks nor Guru’s (leaders of the spiritual community) and in Rastafari women have an entirely different code of religion. For now, gender will continue to be a category that further separates us, physically, socially and within religions.

…we can’t all just get along. Globally, we have divided ourselves, and we are all too deep in it. BBC features nineteen different religions on their “Religion and Ethics” site, which one defines you? Which one have you chosen to be the one that separates you from everyone else, from all of the others? Why can’t we all just get along? We’re all just humans.

Reference: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/

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