Having had the humbling experience to visit with the multiplicity inherent to varied cultures of the world, it has occurred many times along the trail that belief drives many people’s actions. This, of course, has the potential for extremely tragic and misguided consequences such as violence and bigotry. But it also has the blossoming opportunity for the polar opposite; the caring, compassionate embracement of others.
Each of us believes something different – even if we claim the same religion. We cherish different facets of our ethos others might not appreciate. We dismiss items that others hold dear. We even hold our beliefs with varying levels of philosophical value. There’s just no way for two people to believe the exact same thing. And while this dispute is apparent in many current debates in the news and among various communities, it cannot be argued that it is impossible for anyone else to know exactly what we know inside our own heads. We simply have no words for many of the feelings and the depth that each of us has within us.
With that in mind, it’s very easy to understand that if we value the right to believe what we want to believe in our own minds, we should therefore expect to offer that same right to others. And therefore, if we were to infringe upon that privilege in others’ lives, we would not deserve to enjoy it, ourselves.
No matter what our belief structure happens to be, it’s always important to understand that others are not living out the same personal experience that we are facing in this life. And the principles that we hold within ourselves are simply not valid for others. Realizing and maintaining this perspective will do us much good in interacting with people of vastly differing cultural and religious backgrounds.
It may well be that the person across from us on the bus would just as soon not have us around. But what would happen if we showed them that our religious or irreligious background had something positive to leave them with? After all, it’s hard to stay mad at someone who’s being nice.
We don’t need to work very hard to express the more positive side of our heritage. We need simply to understand that the same fears exist within others as within ourselves. And while we may believe in our own minds that we know quite a lot, none of us has this universe figured out. And until we do, we’re all just beings sharing resources and hoping for the best for ourselves and our loved ones. It need be no more complicated than that.
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My new book, Insights from the Pavement, is a collection of 101 Travel Oms just like this one. Look for it to be released soon.
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