Why can’t we just agree to disagree?
This post follows on the heels of my last. I had forwarded the article on Jimmy Carter leaving his church to my FB feed without comment or opinion. A grave mistake on my part as it caused a war of words between two of my FB friends over beliefs.
The article was both religious and political, which is like lighting a stick of dynamite next to a chunk of C-4. I reserve my personal opinions for my blog instead of using a more public forum. But their fiery exchange made me ask: what causes people to get so wound up when someone opposes their belief system?
Intellect + Emotion = Passion
Passion can be expressed with kindness, courtesy, and objectivity instead of aggression. I’ve learned not to attack the belief system of another just because it doesn’t match my own. Everyone has the right to believe what they chose. So I was a little stunned to see two mature, respectable adults slinging mud at each other over someone else’s shifting belief system. Unbeknownst to them, these two people have much more in common that they’d care to believe. Both are from the same generation, the same country, both educated, kind, generous, creative people, who lost all objectivity when faced with a political and religious topic. I wish they would have been able to have a spirited debate without resorting to cheap shots and name-calling.
It was like a bad joke. A Christian and an Atheist walk into a bar. Had I been the bartender, I’d have hosed them down with the soda dispenser.
People have been battling over religion and politics since their inception. I wonder, what does God, (if he exists) think about that? Is he amused, binge watching the live theater of Earth with a bowl of popcorn? Or is he saddened that people spend so much energy focusing on differences failing to recognize their common ground? There is far more commonality in the world’s many religions than differences. As human beings, we would grow so much greater as a world community if we honored and respected each other instead of fought battles over who was right or wrong.
Aren’t there many paths to the same destination? Does God really care which route we took to get there? Will we have all these answers when we die? Because we’re all going to die. And there are a million ways to go. Death is a very personal and individual experience. So why don’t we expect our every experience will be individual? Especially our belief systems.
What good does it do anyone to tear down someone else’s belief system? Is it good, kind, or necessary? Does it create peace and harmony?
I’ve heard people say to their kids, “What someone else thinks of you is none of your business.”
Okay. If it’s none of my business what someone thinks of me, then it’s none of God’s business what I think of him, right? And, therefore, it’s none of anyone else’s business either. If God exists, isn’t he more evolved than us? I don’t think God wastes time thinking about what anyone thinks of him. So I don’t waste time on it either.
I’m married to someone whose beliefs differ greatly from mine. We are living proof that people of opposing beliefs can co-exist in harmony. We have stood in separate lines at the voting polls. We read and view news differently, keep our hot-button opinions to ourselves, and respect each other’s right to think and feel differently. We don’t criticize, attack, or judge each other for those differences. Our home is peaceful because we have plenty more in common than the couple things we don’t. I like to think we are passionate about the things we share, instead of the things we don’t.
Nobody likes being judged. It’s destructive. Seek to uplift and create, not destroy. Spend your energy on what is near and dear to you, and don’t worry about what other people think and believe. You want something to believe in? Believe in your ability to be tolerant and kind to others who hold opposing beliefs. The world is big enough for all of us.