On this evening at sundown, Yom Kippur began.
Yom Kippur is a day of atonement, the most serious and holy holiday on the Jewish calendar. As I reflected upon the faith of my Jewish friends and acquaintances, wishing them a good holiday, I was reminded of how little time we spend learning about other religions.
I also thought about how much we can learn from the religious beliefs and practices of others, yet we often ignore or worse, ridicule other religions.
Man, not God or whomever else you choose to believe in, leads us to believe that his religion is the ‘right’ religion. Man, aside from the Ten Commandments in my religion, makes the rules. And I find, more often than not, organized religion tends to segregate, not unite.
Very few adhere to a religion, or anything in life, 100%. There are some who do; some truly decent people, and some very self-righteous folks. I, like most, know those who fall into both categories.
A right religion? In my opinion, there is none, and I think if we took pieces of the beliefs and practices from each one, we could create it.
There are Catholic Democrats who are pro-choice, supporting abortion and Catholic Republicans, who are pro-life, who have had abortions. Food for thought.
Muslims are not synonymous with terrorists, and I have had the pleasure of being treated to a croissant by a cab driver who was breaking fast during Ramadan. He took the time to educate me on Allah. It was a very interesting conversation, and enlightening.
There are Jehovah Witnesses who flocked from other religions because they couldn’t get the answers they sought. They believe God, Jehovah, is the most high and Jesus is an agent. No premarital sex, homosexuality, smoking, drinking, and more. Not all Jehovah’s subscribe to those beliefs, like most religious followers, though many do.
Druids, witches, pagans. Some pray, some still believe in God, and some believe in a myriad of practices.
And wouldn’t it be a better world if we all chose to do that? See the benefits in a myriad of beliefs and practices, those that help us be the best version of ourselves? And be of service to those around us?
Life invites us to listen, learn and reflect. It also asks us to process, contemplate and tolerate.
It doesn’t tell us to judge, ridicule or condemn.
Shouldn’t religion ask the same? If I am truly a Christian, isn’t it my job to love and accept all, no judgment or condemnation?
It’s human nature to judge. The key is in scaling back our judgment, diving into the many reasons or why’s something may be what it is, then seeking to understand.
As for me, one of the most treasured classes I took in college was World Religions. Yet that wasn’t my first foray into the expansive religious options, because I’d been open-minded since birth.
Take the time – or make the time – to learn about others. Whether it be politics or religion, perspectives or beliefs, listen – then seek to understand.
I will forever react to hypocrisy and unfairness not from a pious perch, as I am quite flawed and imperfect. Aren’t we all?
I can step back and state that I am a Confucian Christian who respects the Buddhist principles and harbors a Yiddish mind (said a former boss). I am spiritual, howl at the moon, and utilize astrology to help in reaching my potential.
At the end of the day – who knows who is right? Which religion is the right one? Is there a right one, or does each one contain within it some ‘right’ things?
And how can we make sure we’re right?
Be a decent human. Be kind. Be gracious. Be humble. Be helpful.
For me, that doesn’t involve religion or politics. It comes down to your heart, mind, and soul. It comes down to your ability to listen, and learn. It involves respect, compassion, kindness, and diplomacy.
Wishing all who celebrate a peaceful, contemplative, and happy Yom Kippur.
And encouraging all who follow this blog to check yourself at the door.
We have so much to learn from each other.
Make the time.