The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: Religion and Faith

Westboro Bapist Church…

It has been said that nothing does more to bring people together, than a common enemy.   And while I think it would be going a to a bit of an extreme to call someone like the Westboro Baptist Church an “Enemy”, I would say that they are enough of a foe to the people in general that they almost qualify.

So if you have been reading my work for any length of time, you know my opinion of homosexuality.  For those of you just tuning in, that is to say that I am really rather apathetic to it.  I pay about as much attention to it as I do any heterosexual couple’s relationship.

With that being said, Westboro seems to place all the wrongs in the world squarely on the shoulders of the Homosexuals, or “Fags”, as expressed in their own words.  If there is some wrong in the world, anything from Soldiers dying in the middle-east, to a kid shooting up a school to an educator going on a murderous rampage.

Through their unique class of extremism, this is a group that seems to have done something that others could not, and that is that they have brought people together that would normally not have joined forces.  Think about this, when the Klu Klux Klan comes out and counter-protests a group like the Westboros, then you have to stop and consider that their brand of hate actually outweighs the ideals of the KKK.   THAT is, in itself, impressive.

The Westboros and their zealots have found a formula to single handedly annoy, anger and generally piss off (pardon the french), almost every group out there.  Even some people that I know to be pleasant and menial, get there hackles up when I mention this group to them.

So what does this group gain by their actions?   It is said that there is no such thing as bad publicity, and yet if you do a Google search for this group, you will certainly not be disappointed in the plethora of articles you find.   There are so many out there that the mind swims.  They are not all bad either… there does actually seem to be some that agree with them and what they are doing, but the percentage, thankfully, is low.

I personally have no grudge against this group as an entity… they have the right to exist just like all other quasi-religious groups in the United States have the right to exist.  I see them in the same light that I see the Moonies, Scientology, Church of Satan, etc…  They all have the right to practice what they want, as long as it does not hurt others.

And THAT is where my problem DOES start with these people.  

Through their actions, they ARE causing harm to others.  No, not physical injury, but emotional.   By protesting the funerals of fallen soldiers, police and others with their “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” banners, they are not sending anything BUT a message of hatred and anger.  There really is no good in what they do, and it is beyond me how they can, in any way shape or form, see a positive message in their actions.

What seems interesting here is that the rights that they have to do what they do are protected, even though a majority of people out there agree that what they do is considered, hate speech, they are, as the Supreme Court has upheld, protected to do so.  Thankfully, that right does not include trespassing on private property, which most cemeteries are,  and does not preclude others from COUNTER protesting them when they do show up.

Some of the best examples of these counter-protests have been from groups like the Teamsters, The KKK, The Patriot Guard Riders (Bikers), Anonymous, and students, among others, have found some common ground in the need to stand up against this group.

One can look at the diverse groups that are rising to curtail the WBC and say that maybe there IS some good in what the WBC is doing, as a byproduct.   That good would be that providing us all with a common evil that we can agree on, we find a way to work together.

I recently posted on my Facebook page a request for people to tell me what they thought about the WBC, and though the response was weak, and briefly overshadowed by someone diverting the subject, I saw responses like this:

J.E.C writes:

“After a major earth change, these people will burn you as a heretic if you disagree with them. Every civilization has thugs like this, unfortunately.”

S.V. writes:

“Most of us seem to feel that they are bigoted idiots and lunatics who preach hate & violence (which they proudly do), and that doesn’t mean people aren’t for equal rights. If WBC is in their church, preaching whatever brand of venom they want, that is their business. When they spew it onto the rest of us, especially those grieving the loss of a loved one, then it becomes the business of the rest of us. By forcing their way into our view, aren’t they violating our rights to not have to put up with their crap?”

Finally, T.D. wrote:

“WBC and those like them are, or should be, the bane of Christians everywhere. They have set Christianity back at least 500 years. If you ask me, about the only difference between them and al-Qaeda and groups like them is that they have not yet taken up arms. I fear that if left to their own devices, they one day will. It is the duty of Christians everywhere to stand up against them. To let the world know that the vile poison they spew is in no way Christianity. That they in no way represent Christians or the God of the Muslims, Jews and Christians.”

There are more on my FB site and you are welcome to visit it… for the sake of time and space, I only put a few here.

In closing… I wish no ill will to the members of the WBC… They are, still, humans like you and me.  They have hopes, dreams, wishes, ideals, just like you and I do.  I just wish that they could see that what they are doing is hurting more than helping people.  Their actions are selfish and hurtful to the people that the protest.   No matter what your religion, I cannot see that as how G-d would want us to act towards others.

Thanks for your attention and time.

Muslims…

With the stories that I see each day, I find myself struggling with my own convictions and beliefs with regards to the Muslim community as a whole based mostly on the actions of a few.

As a Jew, I have a personal reason to know better than to dislike a group for their religious followings and beliefs.  To understand that by picking out a group for their religious beliefs and casting them in a shadow or shunning them BECAUSE of their religious following, would make me no better than those that have done the same to me and my people.

As I have posted in the past, I KNOW that there are good Muslims out there, and I am not talking about the recent converts.  I am talking about the people that are “Multi-Generational” Muslims who have practiced in the manner that their predecessors have before them.  People for whom this is more than words on a page, but a part of their culture.

With the events in England and Boston over the last couple months, as well as the other rumblings, it remains my focus to explain to people that these are the actions of a few, militant, groups within the Islamic community and certainly the exception and not the rule.  But it would be so easy for me to cave… to give in to the anti-Islamic uproar and fall in step with them to condemn the Islamic community as a whole for this.

But that would be wrong.  It would also be wrong for me to allow others to take this attitude without my trying to explain to them, like I am trying to here, that you cannot hold an entire group accountable for the actions of a few within it whom have decided to act on some misunderstanding that they have picked up from their readings.

This is usually the point were someone points out how violent the Qur’an is and how, but I would ask those same people, mostly Christians, to review their own texts and tell me that there are no violent or outdated actions that are suggested to carry out in the Bible.  But I am not writing this to argue religious texts.

The point of this to not hate Muslims, or any other group, for the actions of a few within it.  All this does is raise distrust among all of us and create more hatred, thus giving other groups the feeling that they have earned some right of revenge against the other, and so the hate and anger become self-perpetuating.

I will say, to all servicemen and women everywhere, to please watch yourselves carefully.  With the horrific attack on Lee Rigby and the suggestions that the Radical Islamism are going to carry out more such attacks on soldiers, I worry for all of you serving out there.  Keep your guard up and I would suggest, as I think many commanding officers should as well, to not travel alone, if you are in uniform.

As always, I thank you all for reading.

 

The devine language.

I consider myself to be somewhat of an amateur scientist.  By this, I mean that when I look at the world around me, it is with a sense of wonder, but also with a urge to figure out WHY things are the way they are.  It is not enough to merely accept that nature created something, there has to be a way that it was created.

I also believe in a supreme being.  What ever name you have for it, I think that it is out there, somewhere.  This is not to say that I think that he or she is watching our every move, judging our every thought, action or word, deciding what should happen to us in some afterlife.  In fact, I do not believe in an afterlife other than the fact that when we die, the matter and energy that makes you and I up, along with all other living creatures, will be returned and reused by the universe, and through that, our lives have, in their passing, helped to give life to others.

In my pondering of a G-d, I often wonder what it would be like to meet such an entity, and in these thoughts, it occurs to me that there is really only one language that a truly supreme being could speak that would be recognized throughout the universe.  The language of mathematics.

When you look at the universe, all the way out to the furthest star on the edge of the known universe, to the inner universe and the smallest pieces of the atoms that make you, me and the ground we walk upon… it can all be explained, at least in part, with mathematics.  There is, or will be, some equation that will explain in whole or in part, why things work.

So… at least in my way of thinking, the only logical language for G-d to speak, would be in a language based primarily on mathematics.  When you look at the combination of the apparent simplicity of the universe which hides the complexities of it’s substructure, it implies the work of an artist that not only wanted to show the potential beauty of all things, but then, for those that need to see more, like the scientists and dreamers, there is the superstructure of the universe.  The underlying details that make up everything that we are and everything we know.

I know that there are those out there that are going to be upset with my take on this, but remember…  Religion, Spirituality and Faith are all three very personal and unique things to each person.  Two people may say they are Jews or Catholics, but they may not have exactly the same concept of what G-d or heaven is.

Our personal relationship with G-d, the Universe and everything is our own.  Personally, if I had to put a face to G-d… it would have to be something like Albert Einstein or Johannes Kepler.

Discovering God

I have never particularly cared for the term “I found God”;  It always seemed, among other things, so cliche.  There are also times that people use it as if they are looking for a way to try and convince others that they have, through some divine or mythical process, transcended the evil that they had done in their lives by attaining a higher understanding of God.

I will never tell you that I have “Found God”.  I will say, however, that over the years and as I have grown older, I have become more spiritually aware than I once was.  I have started to understand that the more I think I know about “Life, the Universe and Everything”, the more I see that some things are not easily answered by science, even though it plays a strong role as a tool to discovering much of the unknown.

I do not believe, as many do, that our lives are directed by God.  I think that we are all given a set of tools to work with and what we choose to do with them makes us who we are.  Some of us choose to do good and others to do evil, then again there are some just ride that center line with no real leaning towards one side or the other, choosing to live the life complacent.  But every one of us has the very same capacity for good or evil as every other one of us, it is all a matter of choice.

Regardless of how we are brought up or the social class we are brought up in to, those decisions are ours.  We each have to decide what we do with and where we take our lives and yes… some of us do have more challenges set before us than others, but those only help make us stronger and more prepared for what life might deal us in the future if we choose to approach them head on and succeed.

I do think that our lives are sometimes “nudged” in a direction by God.  I say this because there was a time when I seriously thought about becoming a Rabbi.  After studying the requirements and learning was entailed, I decided that it was too much responsibility for me and chose not to take this path.  This has been a decision I have grown to regret and I feel, looking at the person that I have become, that I would have been a very good Rabbi.  In this case, I feel, in a manner of speaking, I was approached with a job offer from God, and chose to turn it down.

I also look at the people in my life who have been the most influential and I discover that many of them have been members of the Clergy…  Rabbi Stanley Robin… Rabbi Stephen Peskind… Rabbi Rosenberg CDR USN …  plus various Priests, Pastors and Deacons that I have known and spoken with over the years.  These are all people that have positively influenced me on my various paths in life.

Does everything that I have said above mean that I have found God?  No… I do not think that anyone “Finds God”.  I think that it is more a case that you need to understand what you need in your life and for what answers you are looking.  I guess you could say it is like “Looking for love.”  Everyone has it to give, you just need to learn how to accept it and return it… God, in whatever way, shape or form you perceive him or her to be, is no different.  We all have some feelings about God… we all go through periods of doubt, rebellion and contemplation.  Some choose to follow a spiritual path and become Clergy.  Others decide to sit on the sidelines and just watch and wait; then again others defiantly deny that there is any such thing as a higher power.  For some, though, at some point, through your learning, understanding and living, God, or your understanding of him, will find you.

Who knows… we might all be wrong, but that is something that only time will tell.  For now, I would like to think that He is out there, holding back some of the cards, making sure that we are all playing the game fairly.  A dealer that has palmed part of the deck and is waiting for us to play our hands.

For those of you who are used to reading my work… no… I have not gone strange.  I have always wanted to write a piece like this, but have always worried about how it would be taken.  Most people that know me do not know how my spiritualism works.  I keep my beliefs close to me and am not quick to share them.  This is the first time I really have, so I hope that you appreciate what I had to say.  As always… I thank you for taking the time to read this.

Ten Questions…

I have just watched a program called “Ten Questions for the Dalai Lama” and all I can say is that you must watch this program.

I have, for the last nine years now, studied Buddhism.  Not for the sake of becoming a Buddhist, but because of all the religions and beliefs that I have encountered and studied, Buddhism has struck me as one of the most interesting, for reasons that I will go over later.

To listen to the Dalai Lama and to watch him speak and interact with others is truly a delight.  The film warns you in the beginning that he has a infectious laugh and smile, and that turns out to be no lie.  If you sit any watch this program, I dare you to NOT smile almost every time you see him smile, laugh or play to the camera.  He is most certainly a little bit of a ham when it comes the the camera.

In the face of all that has happened to his culture and his people, the tremendous loss of the histories and artifacts of his past and the past of Buddhism, he smiles.  He smiles and he dismisses it as so much water under the bridge.  Then, as if you do not think that he could do one better… he forgives the Chinese for their actions and destruction.

This is something that I, at this time, would not be able to bring myself to do, yet deep inside, I understand what his reasons were and why he, and most other monks, feel this way.  While I understand that carrying a hatred for a person or people is unhealthy and causes us more pain than it helps us, I am not able to follow in those steps… yet.

I also admire his, the Dalai Lama’s, ability to interact.  You can see in his eyes and his actions that he genuinely loves everyone.  He does not care what color you are, what you look like, what religion you are or how you dress.  His love is not swayed by what he can get from you or how much you can donate to his cause.  If you can help the Tibetan cause, then he will accept that help, but you can tell that he will only accept that help if it is offered freely and is not contingent on something in return, short of the love that he and his people offer to all.

Most surprising to me is that the Dalai Lama, in spite of what the Chinese have done, encourages us (meaning the world) to engage in favorable relations with them.  This is another thing that I find hard to talk myself into actively doing.  I know that it is impossible, as an American, to stop buying Chinese products.  Look at how much of what you and I buy, on a daily basis, that is made in China.  I bought a “Proud to be an American” t-shirt a couple weeks ago, and it has a “Made in China” label in it.  This in and of itself is enough to make a person question the direction that their country is going.

But he, and they, look above that.  They, somehow, are able to see beyond their own loss and need to understand the need for peace in the world.

This brings me to my final point.  I think that all the religions of the world could stand to benefit by studying Buddhism.  If even the “Big Three” (Judaism, Christendom and Islam), could incorporate the basics principles of Buddhism towards one another.  Accept the differences and embrace them for what they make us, not use them as dividing points and wedges to further separate us and make us fear one another.  Teach us to look at one another an laugh at the little things we bicker over.  After all… as Buddhism teaches us… everything is tranistory, nothing last forever.

What would my ten questions be?

They have all, already been asked, and the answers are there, but we, as a world, are not mature enough to understand them yet.  Hopefully we will mature enough to do so, before we destroy ourselves and the world that we are borrowing from our children.

While the term has become somewhat cliche these days and more a joke to those that do not understand, I do agree with the “Free Tibet” movement.  I do side with the Dalai Lama on the point that this should be done through peace, not through conflict.  People who are used to conflict and war are not intimidated by it.

Depression – Reaching out from the dark.

Before I start, I need you, the reader, to understand that this is not a self help guide. It is not meant to be the key to help you out of your problem with depression. This is simply my story of how I cope and what I feel when I fall into my bouts of depression, and the paths I take to try and get out of them. If you do take something away from this that helps you, then I am happy for you and would like you to share your story with me, if you feel comfortable doing so. I just want to make it clear that I am not an expert on depression, nor am I a health professional. Please read this with the understanding that I am sharing my experience in the hope that others might take something from it for themselves.

This is also therapy for me. Talking about a problem I have suffered with for years in a way that others will see can be very liberating. I am sure that there are those out there that will read this and wonder why I am airing my issues, but if even one person out there reads this, and it touches them, then maybe it was worth it.

I cannot say for certain when I first started having depressive bouts, but I am pretty sure it goes all the way back to high school. That in itself should be no surprise to most people, since almost everyone can agree that high school is a harsh place, even for those that do well in school. It is where we first start really learning how popularity and money can divide people into groups. I think everyone experiences a little anxiety or depression in high school simply because they need to learn to fit in to certain cliques, or become outcast.

This is not going to be a “History of Me”, so I am going to concentrate more on the “here and now” and not the “there and then”. Looking at the past, at least in my case, has never been much of a help. Those are all things and times that can not be altered and should not be worried about. What is more important is how I face the future.

Many times when a person says that they are suffering from depression, the first thing people say about it, be it verbally or in their own minds, is “Oh… Get over it.” Too often people see it as just a person feeling sorry for themselves or wanting attention, and they are dismissed. I know this because there have been cases where I have talked to a person that was going through a depressive bout and I have thought that same way about them. When I go through the same bouts and I talk to people, I can see the same thing in their eyes or hear it in their voice. It is not their fault. People who do not suffer from this or who do not understand what it is to go through it, have no way of seeing the world as I do when I am experiencing a bout. In fact, I can say that I am just as guilty because I do not, and cannot, see things the way that another person might when they are going though an episode of depression.

Because, for me, depression is a personal experience, another person cannot understand my process of “going down.” When I am starting down into one of my funks I do not care what a person can tell me or what they try and do to cheer me up. In fact I really cannot see the positive in anything at that point, I just do not care. For me, if I were to use an analogy, it is a dark tunnel that leads nowhere, and only gets darker. That is what I feel when I am in a depressive mood, and the sad part about it is that I usually know when they are starting. This is as frustrating to me, as the person affected, as it is for the few people who know I suffer this problem. Talking is about the only cure or remedy that I know, but the people I talk to have to understand that I am not going to be responsive to their support at first, so all they can do is be there. Even though I may not be interested in what they have to say at the time, and I may not care for their efforts, in the moment, they do help in the long run. Another thing that helps is if they, your friends and family, understand that you suffer from depression in the first place.

I have never shared my problem with depression with my friends, at least not until this blog. I have never felt comfortable with sharing it because I have never wanted the whole “pity parade” that seems to follow people who suffer it. I also know that some of my friends would probably not understand it, especially the ones closer to my own age. This is not meant to offend them, but unless they, too, suffer it, then they would not understand what it is to go through.

In addition to the overall sense of loathing that I feel at the time, one of the hardest parts about depression, for me, is the state of reclusion that I fall into. I want nothing to do with anyone, friends, family, coworkers, etc… and I convince myself that no one wants anything to do with me. I close myself off into what I have termed my “Darkspace”. I cannot bring myself to care about anyone or anything, I have even treated friends and family rudely during these times, and only see the doom and gloom in life. My wife will try and motivate me, but she has learned what I have learned, and that is that I have to find a way out on my own. Reaching out from the dark, as I have titled this article. However, she has always been there when I come out of it.

Another thing about my episodes, is that I can see who I am during and after the attacks. I look back at my latest bout, and I know that it had a negative affect on my job and may have affected my relationships with my friends, and I know that… I also knew that at the time, but could not work my way out of it. You do not want to tell people what you are going through, because at the time, how to you explain it? Where do you start? Can you really, truly, explain what may appear to most as a state of mind? You really cannot tell a person, “Hey, I am depressed right now, I will call you back when I feel better… M’Kay?”

One of the problems with people sharing a problem like this with others, especially in my age group, is that I was raised being that taught you should not share your problems, as I am sure others were as well. You need to hide your troubles away and keep them to yourself and things like depression and openly expressing feelings were a sign of weakness or a liability. This is much like how my father was, at least to me, and many of the male figures in my life, as a child, were much the same. I have worked hard to not be like that over the last several years. Mostly because I knew that I had a problem with depression, and that the best way to help myself was to reach out to those around me.

Since depression affects everyone differently, there is nothing I can say that will be a magic bullet that will help others. What works for me, may not work for you, and you should not expect it to. If you feel that you are suffering from depression, you need to get in to see a doctor as soon as you can. While I choose not to take medicine for mine, because I understand the potential risks in doing so, you may not have that luxury. Depression should never be taken lightly.

In my case, the best thing for me to help me get out of the funk, is writing, woodworking and family. The writing gives me a release, a way to vent and share thoughts and feelings. The woodworking gives me a outlet of creativity and something to accomplish. Family… well that is self explanatory. Your family is potentially the strongest medicine you have, and is not confined to those that share your blood, but those who are close to you. I have several friends that I consider family, and in reality, they are just as much a part of my life as any brother or sister. I may not always express that with them, but I would like to think that they know.

For me… coming out of the funk and haze of depression is like walking into a well lit room after spending a while in a long dark tunnel. There is relief because I, once again, beat it down and took back control of my life. There is also sadness… because you look back, and see the person you were during that time, and the affect you had on others… those you do not know, and those you love.

If you are a religious person, that can help as well. As I have said in a couple of my past writings, there is a lot of good in your belief in god. It helps you find your center and to feel comforted that there is someone watching over you, something greater than you that you are accountable to in the end. If you find yourself in a depressive mood, and you have a Priest, Rabbi, Pastor, etc… that you can talk to, do so. That is another reason they are there, and sometimes it is just nice to talk to someone that is not part of your immediate family. I, personally, use meditation to help… it is like having a nice sit down and chat with yourself… but sometimes you may not like what you have to say, and that helps too. If you never get to know yourself, then you may never get over it.

In closing… depression is hard to get through. I will not lie to you about that, you sometimes feel like there is no way out and that nothing you do is worth anything. You may even get to the point were you are certain that no one is there for you, but none of that is true. You have to tell yourself to live above that, live above yourself. You can get through it and you can get back to being the person you, your family and other people like you to be. You just have to take it one step at a time… that is what I do. This is no different than what they teach you in a twelve-step program. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, and one day at a time.

I hope that some of what I said can give someone a little guidance.

You are more than welcome to comment, but as I said toward the beginning of this… I am not a professional in this field. I will not offer any advice, other than to tell you that you should see a professional.

How is religion helping us?

Religion.

I look around, especially these days, and I have to ask… How is religion helping us?

Yes… I know that there are just as many ideas about the Historic, Geopolitical and ideological notions about religion as there are people that follow the many different flavors that are out there. But the question stands… How is it helping us?

Personally I see religion as a powerful tool. It has the power to shape nations, control people and cultures, destroy civilizations, shape law, destroy law, and a host of other negative things. Religion, as a whole, is responsible for more death and destruction throughout the course of human evolution that any other human creation.

Now that you are probably thinking that I am a anti-religious freak… Let me continue.

Religion also has the power of great good. It has the ability to guide people from nothing to greatness, to lift the sad and lonely to happiness and prosperity. Again, I could go on and on.

But is it REALLY about the religion itself, or just that the potentials of a person whom otherwise would have no direction can be shown clarity through a belief such as a religion. That a person can use their faith, no matter what that faith may be, as a lens to focus their good intentions on others? Could it be that anyone that TRULY practices, with all their heart, can use religion as their catalyst to carry out their desires?

Religion is truly an enigma, in my minds eye. While I am not a very religious person, I see the good and the bad that it can do, and I respect both immensely. Likewise I respect those that do follow with all their heart and use that for the good. Likewise, I also respect those that use their religious presence for the bad. By respect, I mean in the same way that people respected Hitler’s ability to do evil and Norman Mailers ability to blow his ego out of proportion.

With everything that is going on in the world today, I have to think back on a line from a movie… I cannot recall the name of the movie right now, but I remember the line. “We are capable of such great beauty and such incredible destruction… ” We have an escalation in fighting in the mid-east that we have not seen in many years. We are very close to seeing a war between Korea and Japan, add to that that there are several nuclear missiles from the former Soviet Union that are not accounted for. To quote a line from one of my favorite plays: “No one can deny that these are very difficult and dangerous times.”

Do I think that theses are the ever-so-prophecized “End of Times”. Yes… but only if we let it. Unfortunately, as with most religiously based wars, there may not be an easy end to it. Would the destruction of Jerusalem end these wars, since that is the focal point of many prophecies? What about the fall of Israel? Maybe the start of an all out nuclear exchange? Who can say… Maybe none of them are right, maybe they all are… but I think that truth be told, there is no one that seems to be truly willing to find out… and let’s hope it stays that way.

Then again… Would we be better off if there was no religion at all… nothing to act as just another way to divide us into separate groups. Maybe John Lennon was onto something with his song “Imagine”. Then again… who knows. I am merely a passenger on this boat… just like the rest of us. As such, we really should watch how hard we rock the boat… there is nowhere to swim to if we fall off.

How is religion helping us? It has the potential of helping all of us or none of us. It is what we want it to be and what we make of it. I think, once again, of a fitting quote by the great philosopher George Carlin: “Religion is like a shoe that fits you just right. Your shoe might not fit me,l so do not force me to wear it and I will not push mine on you.” I will as one thing to that. Will people please stop beating each other with their shoes!!!

Is it Christian?

This is a article I originally posted on my yahoo account, but felt I needed to place it here as well.

Interesting thing happened to me a couple weeks ago, and it took me a while to generate a blog to it.

I made my usual act of a gentleman and opened the door for a woman and her husband. She smiled and said that that was a Christian thing for me to do for them. Without really even thinking about it, I responded with, “Well, you know how us Jews are, rude and obnoxious and all.”

Over my life, I have heard that comment more often than I like. It makes no sense. Are there really Christians (or any other religion for that matter) that honestly think that the act of being kind or polite is unique to THEM alone? If so, then that only tells me that they are sadly disillusioned.

I do things like open doors, complement people and help when I can because that is the person I was brought up to be. I have a very good mother, and I think she brought me up very well. How is this a trait that any religion feels it has a monopoly on? Do these people really categorize people this way, where somewhere in the back of the grey paste that makes up their brain, they think that only Christians are capable of acts of goodness? If so, what is in their file about Jews? Are we seen as money hoarding rats with horns? How about Islamics or Buddhists?

In closing, it is sad that we have done this to ourselves, and things, I fear, are only going to get worse. Take Islam, for example… Since 9/11 people have suddenly started grouping all Islamics in the same category… as radicals, when nothing could be further from the truth. I have known several Muslims in my life, and they are all great people. Would this woman I helped see, in the back of her mind, all Muslims as being “Ragheads with bombs taped to them”, as one of my more ‘enlightened’ acquaintances said once. Sadly, I am afraid she might.

Maybe the thing we need to do is, instead of teaching the differences between us, teach the similarities between us. Why we are all alike, not different. After all… in the dark we are all the same.

As I left the Carl’s Jr., I had the honor of holding the door open for her and her husband once again. She would not look at me, did not even ‘Thank you’, but her husband nodded at me, grinning. Wonder what the conversation was like at their table.

I will end this with two of my favorite quotes:

“Character is knowing the good,
loving the good and doing the good.”
— Thomas Lickona

“Character is what you are in the dark.”
— Rev. Dwight Moody

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