What is the essence of religion? Religion is geared towards living in adherence to the teachings of a certain faith or dogma. Religion is neither good nor bad. At the heart of a religion is the aim to be closer to a higher being. Be it God, Allah, Buddha, The Universe, The Goddess or any other name or form the higher being is
However religion has also sparked war not just recently but also in past centuries. Many people have been divided because of religion. Hate towards those of other faiths have been common.
The Good Side of Religion
Science veers away from religion because men and women of science think that religion is a belief on something that cannot be empirically proven. People of various faiths battle each other to prove that the other belief is wrong.
But religion has a good side. Religion gathers people with a common faith to do good towards others. Many religions teach kindness, mercy, generosity and values. Morals such love for family, helping the poor and having a conscience has been the core values taught by many schools of faith.
- Obedience – Religion has been away to teach obedience to throngs of people. You may say it is a way to control people. But it does have it’s benefits. If people are obedient, they will follow rules. Rules help dispel anarchy and chaos. Obedience paves the way for peace and order in a community.
- Mercy – Men are born selfish to some extent. Though we have altruistic capabilities in our hearts, most people will look out for themselves before they help others. But most religions teach kindness and mercy. These teachings lead people into being helpful towards others. It teaches them to show other love. Such that a poor and dirty beggar is helped by another rather than being pushed away due to repulsion.
- Generosity – Religion teaches people to share our blessings. It teaches us to avoid being selfish. Through the teachings of many religions, people learn to share what they have rather than being self-serving.
- Discipline – Everybody has his or her story and his or her own agenda. People normally look out for themselves and at times may forget to act morally due to their own personal needs and wants. But religion help man to curb is self seeking appetites. He or she learns that proper behavior leads to benefits in the afterlife and thus adhering to a moral structure can lead to ultimate enlightenment and freedom.
Religion and Racism
If you remember the story of the Tower of Babel where people started speaking different languages and started being separated, this can also be likened to how religion changes men and women. Religion a lot of times dictates culture and traditions. These cause people to act and move in a certain way. At times, these actions cannot be understood by others or can also cause others to feel hate.
- Division – The main reason why religion causes racism is because it causes us to be divided. People who belong to a certain faith may not want to associate themselves with people from other faith. We cling to what we know and thus this causes close mindedness. Muslims vs. Christians and Christians vs Muslims. Muslims vs Hindus and Hindus vs. Muslims. Buddhists against Hindus, Taoists against Buddhists, Christians condemning Pagans.
People tend to forget that we are all just people.
- Self-Righteousness – A lot of religions believe that their faith is the “One” faith that would save all. They believe that in order for one to be saved, he or she must cling to a certain faith. This causes people to ask other to convert to the religion that he or she is joined to. Preaching to members of another faith can bring about discord and hate.
- Condemning Others – Passing judgment who belong to a certain faith can be one of the biggest racism linked attributes of religion. In the recent years, associating Muslims with terrorism has been on the rise. Innocent Muslims have been subject of hate crimes. Their houses vandalized, their children bullied and harassed and their families judged.
Labeling people has been the cause of hate and discrimination. Racism and pegging those from another faith as a lower class or as a terrorist is wrong. We all belong to one world. We are all one race, the human race.
If we set aside our idiosyncrasies and start being more open minded, then we can created a world that is more peaceful.