There are two things we typically don’t talk about- politics and religion.
Yesterday I received an email from a friend out of the blue, telling me in a harsh way that unless I adopt the same religious beliefs he has, I’ll never be happy. Funny thing is, I haven’t talked with this friend in months, and even more interesting- I am happy!
Because his chosen religion has brought joy to his life, his way of loving others is now sharing these beliefs with them. His religion teaches him that it’s his job to reach out and convert others to his religion. Personally, I believe that someone’s religious or spiritual beliefs are theirs and theirs alone. It’s not my business. It’s not for me to judge, but rather, to love them regardless of what path they choose to follow.
What struck me the most was the contradiction for my friend to reach out and criticize, when the basis of his religion and most others teaches one thing- love. Instead, why not just reach out with love?
Imagine a religion that didn’t feel the need to have everyone be alike, that accepted diversity and multiple paths and one that taught only love. Why is it that we’re so quick to condemn, to judge and to disapprove when someone’s opinions or beliefs differ from our own? Why does that threaten us so?
Many years ago I studied with a Rabbi who shared an analogy with me that I hold dear even today. Picture yourself at the entrance to a path in front of you leading up a mountain. From where you stand, you are confident that this must be the only path up the mountain.
So, you start walking up your path to meet God, the Universe or whatever term you call that Divine source energy. As you walk, you invite others on your path too. Sometimes you will even attempt to convince others that this is the only path- for it is the only one you can see from your vantage point.
However, it isn’t until you are part of the way up to the destination that you can see other paths converging, all leading to the same top of the mountain. We have to be far enough up our own path to recognize that there’s more than one way to reach the peak. The important thing is that we find our path and walk in the right direction- allowing our brothers and sisters to find and walk their own as well.
The disappointment I personally have with organized religion is this… reaching out with criticism and judgment to convince someone to be loving is the biggest oxymoron I can think of.
We tend to put labels on people so that we can keep things in little boxes- this one is a Jew, this one is a Christian, this one is a Muslim and so on. Instead, what if we realize we are truly brothers and sisters and we can learn to love regardless of different paths?
I actually received an email from a gentleman asking a question about our Global Hug Tour. He wanted to know, “Are you just flying around the world spreading unconditional love, hope and making the world a better place, or are you sharing Jesus’ teachings?” I was struck by his comment- for to me, they are one in the same. Isn’t unconditional love, hope and making the world a better place what most religions are based on in the first place?
If we spent more time focusing on the 90% of most religious beliefs we can agree on- LOVE, instead of arguing over the 10% where we may have different opinions, I believe the world would be a better place for all of us.
Want to change the world? A hug works better than a stick. Reach out and wrap your arms around someone- for real or even virtually. Share love. Share support. Be there for one another. Find what someone is doing right and spend time complimenting that instead of telling them what they’re doing wrong. Catch someone doing something right and share recognition and praise. Make someone feel good today just by sharing love.
No matter what, love is always the answer. Or as my favorite songwriter says, Love’s the Only Road To Travel. Let’s go find some fun ways to share love and show it in our world today- no matter someone’s religion, no matter their beliefs. Let’s just share love and see what happens.
You are all my sisters and my brothers and I love you- just as you are in this very moment.
I welcome your stories and comments below.