Religion and blame: a reality check.

As the news storms in, as Facebook feeds create whispers that evolve into rumors and allegations that imitate high school hallways, as strangers connect and pictures fly across screens that look like scenes from the latest action movies, it can begin to feel like the world is falling apart. One of the saddest things that I have seen today is how quickly blame is placed on religious groups and how quickly negative feelings are directed towards innocent people.

Religion can be beautiful, it can bring hope, it can give strength, and true faith is always powerful. Whether or not a religion is right or wrong, whether or not it was created through a connection with the divine, religion is spread, transformed, and taught by people. And just like a song sung by one person will sound differently than the same song sung by another, teachings from any religion will resonate differently from person to person. The exchange of knowledge and thought can move quickly and the strength of words and teachings is easily taken out of context and misused.

While it would take decades and maybe lifetimes to be an expert on even the top six religions in the world today, there is one thing that I know for sure–they all teach compassion, they all teach love, they all teach forgiveness, and they all hope for peace.

“O’ my child, make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself. Do not oppress as you do not like to be oppressed. Do good to others as you would like good to be done to you. Regard bad for yourself whatever you regard bad for others. Accept that (treatment) from others which you would like others to accept from you… Do not say to others what you do not like to be said to you.”

– Nahj al-Balagha (Muslim Poet, cousin of Muhammad)

“…and you should forgive And overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving.”

– Qur’an (Surah 24, “The Light,” v. 22) 

“Comparing oneself to others in such terms as “Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I,” he should neither kill nor cause others to kill.

– Sutta Nipata 705 (Buddhism)

“One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires.”

– Brihaspati, Mahabharata  (Hinduism)

“Whom should I despise, since the Lord made us all.”

– p.1237, Var Sarang, Guru Granth Sahib (Sikhism)

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God.”

– Leviticus 19:34  (Judaism)

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

– Luke 6:27 (Christianity)

Try not to let the human desire to organize and find patterns through similarities and differences overcome the human ability to find truth through compassion.

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