Posted by: LucidMystery | March 12, 2009

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Alrighty, let’s look at a quick fact: everyone on this planet has a belief system and a worldview. They might share it with someone else, they might have been brainwashed into believing it, they might have done serious research before adopting, they might say they don’t, they might say they don’t care…but no matter how you roll the dice…EVERYONE believes in something. Picture the most apathetic skateboarding bum you know who shrugs and looks completely disinterested when asked if he believes in higher power; his view is that religion isn’t important. Now picture a staunch atheist who refuses to believe anything without concrete evidence; that’s her belief system and it shapes how she will live her life. Now picture the elderly man who has attended the same church all of his life and lived fully devoted to God; the Christian belief system gives definition to his worldview.

Of course, you’re going to notice that of those examples, in the end of all things, at least one person, most likely two, but potentially all three are going to have been wrong all along. The purpose of this post isn’t to point out who was wrong; it’s to point out that different belief systems exist and it’s logically impossible that some of them are correct together. Rather, the purpose of this post is to ask for respect for each other.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify what I mean by respecting other beliefs. First of all, I don’t mean accept. For an atheist to accept Islam…that just doesn’t make sense. For a Hindu to accept Buddhism…that doesn’t make any sense either. You can respect someone without accepting their beliefs. Second, I don’t mean to ignore. If Christian just ignored the other belief systems out there, yeah, that will add to the church’s credibility. And if people of different views never talked about their differences, there would be no enrichment, no gain of knowledge, no sharing of culture, no understanding of what probably was an influential history!

What I do mean is for people to be gracious enough to understand that someone is not going to agree with you. Don’t belittle someone, even if you think they are the most confused, dim-witted, misinformed human being on Earth. It works both ways across the board. Those who purposely chose not to believe in any god may not understand those people who do live a life devoted to a higher being, but that doesn’t give them the right to assume themselves superior–even if they think they have all the evidence of the Earth on their side. Similarly, those who adhere to a religion would do well to remember that they are often called to love those who oppose them (depending on what faith system you operate from), and just because you think you worship the right god doesn’t give you a right to turn up your nose at someone who doesn’t agree with you–even if you think you have all the evidence of the heavens on your side.

I will make one notable exception in my plea for mutual respect because I can’t offer it myself–I refuse to respect a viewpoint that demands hurting innocent people. I think many Muslims would agree that a few extremists nearly ruined the image of all of Islam; though I can respect a Muslim view, I do not respect the distorted militant view. Similarly, Christians have faced battles with a few extremists hiding in cults or massive groups of idiots parading in sheets and masks using a twisted version of their faith to justify racist bigotry. There is no way I can justify that no matter how hard I try (…not that I really tried that hard…or tried at all…)

Before you fire away the comments pointing out where I need to take my own advice, let me assure that I am well aware that more than once I have most definitely responded to those with a different belief from me (particularly atheism) with an unhealthy dose of scorn. In fact, part of my reasoning behind this post is recalling my own instances of bad behavior. Recently, I have taken to following an atheist blogger just so I could be a bit more educated on his side of the matter. The only thing is, his comments section gets intense sometimes. I try to stop myself from joining the rabble, especially when I have a counter-argument to something either the blog or one of the comments said, but the problem is, I’m opinionated and have little/no self-control. Let’s add that to the fact that, in this setting especially, people are far less likely to use common manners. Things I would never say to someone’s face I am way more likely to blurt out when they only know me as a little icon and screen name. I’m guessing the same is true for many others out there, or at least I would hope that all of that wouldn’t be said to someone’s face! But what all those comments always boil down is people berating each other. Christian vs. atheist especially; I can’t think whether I’ve seen any people from other faiths challenging the said opinions, but I could easily have missed those. But anyway, both the Christian and the atheist/agnostic camps dive into belittling each other’s beliefs, intelligence, knowledge and all sorts of territories. And let me assure you, neither side is doing their campaign any good. Some of the arguments may be well thought out and well written, but emotion is running so high it doesn’t matter. Both sides lit each other’s fuses bcause of a complete lack of respect for each other. Absolutely ridiculous. But I have to admit that I’ve joined the madness more than once, and I share the blame with anyone else who realizes the error a lack of respect (and good heavens, tact!) can bring. (As a side note, the blogger himself tends to be a little more respectful than the commentators, which is why I will read his page. He at least gives reasoning for what he believes. It’s kind of pointless to read an atheist blogger who just sits and whines about “delusional” Christians with nothing to support his insults. That’s totally the way to get people to abandon their faith and join his side.)

Good golly I’ve been droning again.

Ok, well to conclude this, even if the context was technically race, I’ll end with the words of the distinguishedly handsome Denzel in Remember the Titans, “You don’t have to like each other. But you will respect each other.” C’mon folks, it’s really not that hard. You don’t have to believe, like, or understand someone else’s faith, but for pity’s sake, we can get along.

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