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Archive for the ‘hate’ Category

The Enemy Within

Making Enemies Out of Innocents

https://www.flickr.com/photos/shan213/13959398126/in/photolist-RwnZWa-ayQgu1-amXuij-9KZfif-bJsTcF-dmiwBx-4LwPZS-ngxyJ3-amXunq-83AkxT-5nmCvL-ajRRF1-p726Pa-8hXzrj-WYoqBq-b3XtLV-gtT43-g2PFEr-ayVLip-6AUTqf-dZMYA2-b3XnVr-dMLMcs-dPtAeM-dC9uL-W1398F-5zxVfC-W13cbK-b3XsLF-WYowof-d5HvmS-ax8DQJ-RsJuww-bsRwtU-ni7c-S7xRBk-qHFZg7-W13cvT-7YXYc7-4geuqc-ax8Sof-SVd9Lv-4yeamM-cx5tVs-dPzfsJ-cYzr1J-SAoCFu-VdeFR1-ax5YN8-4o3RtnMost of the time I avoid the news, not only because 90% of it is fake these days, but because the majority of it is hate driven. Even worse, the masses are encouraged to find someone to blame for the lies they ingest like candy corn.

This group is taking your jobs. That group is defiling your daughters. Another group is, oh, I don’t know—devil worshipers. What it boils down to is people believing any lie they’re told as long as they don’t have to take any responsibility on themselves. What I see from where I sit, as distanced as possible from the insanity overtaking not just our country, but our world, is there are only two real enemies: the one who is fabricating the hate and blame, and those who believe it and find in their hearts, only room for more hate and blame. And the worst part is, the second group is utterly clueless about how they’re succumbing willingly to blatant manipulation by the first.

At one time or another, most of us find a reason to blame outside sources for our inability to achieve what we think we should, or have what we believe we ought. It’s easier to convince ourselves someone or something cheated us out of what we deserve than to recognize the obvious; we are responsible for our own destiny.

Hate: Learned or Innate?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmettraux/14001348761/in/photolist-nkfzbR-4dvLtK-p2vqh-ddqN16-qmHXM5-4Hc2Yi-fnWMo6-aDUrc6-7xQf1a-8cuhge-dkzjcL-4mRSXW-2rtMf-f1LjK-hAVVQn-6nVNUr-d3FR8m-8PLawX-26DBYGW-23Dux96-cCLeMh-mGXmB4-Uy89JS-dLY5Co-9MW8Yb-7zPnx4-9fqcs2-5Y9r5u-682eeA-nUUnjQ-24xKbB-brjRBw-oyCCU-bJXg8n-5Ssdmw-682ef1-43guNg-9MTnFT-6L1sfv-4a9h1v-68W7zB-8QQE1C-obak6h-gQnxN-23qZYUt-4adhe5-6eZR8m-7MQTEL-4sAvcY-68W8sxYou can argue with me if you want to, but I don’t believe hate is a natural part of the human condition. It is a demon conjured by those who wish to gain power and have no morals about how they’ll accomplish their goals. It’s a tool, but once the demon is released, it runs rampant and is nearly impossible to capture and subdue.

Many before me who were wiser and more influential insisted the only way to tame that demon was with love. Naive as it might sound, I agree. Before you laugh me out of the room, or denounce me as a fool, hear me out.

If you pour gasoline on a fire, what happens? The fire grows. So it would follow that if you pour hate on an already hate fueled issue, you’ll only cause the hate to grow as well.

There are marchers and counter-marchers, each spewing their impassioned slogans and buzz words at each other. Each side rises to the occasion in self-righteous indignation, and before long, the fire of hate burns brightly on both sides. What have we accomplished?

Is Peaceful Coexistence an Impossible Dream?

Under present conditions, it’s probably pie in the sky to think we might come together and formulate a peaceful and universally fair solution to all the hate and lies and ugliness that’s turning people against each other needlessly. In the midst of all the rhetoric and pot stirring, I’m asking the same question we’re encouraged to ask when someone asks “why?”. I really want to know, “why not?”.

Why not let the politicians and the power mongers duke it out on the world stage while we gather quietly in the shadows and find ways to counteract the hate and misery. What is stopping us from excusing ourselves from the collective insanity to work on ways we can work together? And why can’t we respond to the incessant call to hate with waves of love, compassion, and respect?

Fact Checking is Everyone’s Responsibility

In an age where information is available with a couple of clicks of a mouse or a few keystrokes, we have https://www.flickr.com/photos/eamoncurry/28268951669/in/photolist-K52Lsr-byVMMC-RPS3xW-UdGABu-ZyoRJD-UGD7PB-F5Q7kv-VP4Csi-mHt88T-k3iA6-Hfjmzh-dcxTkQ-RtTnPj-U65Sq9-dcujdB-RSrN3T-bMQU4K-SWh6K3-Tb77Ki-T7xwTo-RTDHJ3-T7xp7w-3KKPDt-o6oKQv-SWh5YJ-UN97Sy-prgzdM-bMCdYe-qhS8Xz-byKj5d-qs4b7R-byL2XC-bMCd9p-SAfRWS-dzNBJu-fwWtJt-JjEtwP-bMBxtP-byKnuf-272uDNX-TuBQdv-26wihPC-EQiBwn-dabUNz-rLf7Sy-27u72yF-SLfJYB-dkAN6H-24szGFw-bWK2Xteverything we need to cut through the rhetoric, separate the wheat from the chaff, and more importantly, filter at least some of the lies out in our search for the truth.

Taking it a step or five further, regardless of what we find, there will always be those who refute what we believe is the truth. That’s OK, as long as it’s a discussion and not an argument. We are all better for taking the time to understand a point of view that differs from our own. It’s an opportunity to learn and even to question what we believe is true. How did we arrive at our conclusions? What facts are we using? What sources provided those facts? What are the agendas of our sources? Can they truly be trusted to give us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

Philosophical Truth vs. The Truth of Hidden Agendas

Philosophically speaking something cannot be both the truth and a lie. But politics, power, and greed make their own rules. The one they all worship as if it were a god is “truth is in the eye of the beholder”. They take the responsibility of making their version of truth appear in more eyes than the other guy very seriously. If we dissect everything they tell us, it becomes the old joke: “How do you know a politician is lying? His lips are moving.” Or in today’s environment, we could say it shows up on Twitter.

I understand people believe the ones they’re taught to believe without question, no matter what inconceivable crap might spew from their mouths. There are still some of us who were taught to dig into what we’re told and look for holes in the logic. But doing so takes time and effort. We can’t be on top of every single issue. Just getting past the  ever-expanding smoke screens takes more time, effort, patience, and persistence than most people are willing to expend.

To Feed or Not to Feed the Real Enemy to Us All

We can, however, pick and choose our issues. I, for one have a tendency to avoid the ones which are garnering the most attention. Why? Because it’s the diversion in the sleight of hand trick. They are the hot buttons guaranteed to trigger massive emotional reactions and outbursts, thus feeding the never-satiated beast of hate, a beast I’ve chosen not to feed.

I admit, refraining from generating emotional fodder is difficult in the best of times. The littlest things like mentally judging a person or an act is sufficient to bring negative emotions to the forefront. I’m challenged every day to think only kind thoughts of my fellow humans, to avoid words like “stupid”, and “idiotic” when I see someone acting inconsiderately (yet another judgement, I know). It’s difficult, but not impossible to refrain from taking the words and acts of others personally, when, on a conscious level, we know nothing really is.

Humans Are Basically Kind-Hearted

Normally, people don’t speak or act from a place of intentional hurt. They don’t normally plan to say or do things which cause pain to others, and certainly not to someone they don’t really know. But when we react as if they did, we feed their own pain, and soon have a conflagration of anger, but more, of pain.

Now, as much as the beast loves hate, it loves pain even more. The more pain it can cause, the bigger it grows. Whether it’s immigrant children separated from their parents, Muslims blamed for no concrete reason, or someone beaten because someone else’s lives matter, you can bet there will be a feeding frenzy in the opulent abodes of the greedy and powerful.

Stop Playing the Blame Game

We can fix this, though. It starts with putting aside the blame. It continues when we reach out and listen when people with opposing views explain their position, and when we do so without judgement, without a need to convince or turn.

I responded to a post asking if the word “God” should be left in the Pledge of Allegiance. My response was that it should not, and that it was not in the original anyway, but had been added in the ’50’s. One man responded rather violently, saying it should have been there in the first place, and went on to tell me about his military career and how he fought for “God and Country”. I told him I respected his opinion, and was grateful for his service, but asked that he respect mine as well.

That’s really all I’m saying here. We all have opinions. Sometimes they’ll mesh and sometimes they won’t. But hating someone because they have a different opinion is silly, and worse, it breaks down any hope of communication or learning. I guarantee the person you’re hating because of one difference in opinion, has at least a dozen opinions you share. When you shut down over one thing, you cheat yourself of so much more.

Putting This Topic to Rest—For Now

I’m going to get off my soapbox for now, but hope you’ll have reason to think about what I’ve said. I don’t expect you to agree with everything I’ve said, and I value your comments. I always appreciate the opportunity to learn something new, or see things from a different angle. But I will not tolerate disrespect, for me or for anyone else who responds to this post. If nothing else, look at your own inner child and before you speak, ask if you’d use those words when speaking to the child.

Feeling Grateful Every Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I’m able to continue to do my own housework. I’ve known far too many who lose that ability way too young.
  2. I am grateful for my cats who’ve been especially attentive lately. They often know I’m struggling before I know myself.
  3. I am grateful for my daughter who’s persistence, tenacity, and uber-organization inspire me to do better myself.
  4. I am grateful for dancing. Even on a night when I’m feeling disconnected, I still am better for getting out and moving, for exchanging hugs with my friends, and for reaching out to someone new.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; ideas, inspiration, motivation, energy, strength, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

We Are All Connected So Why Must We Hate?

An Appeal for Harmony

Last month, Linda Clay asked the question: “What one thing would you like to tell the world?” I replied “I’d tell them to be kind”. An old Coca Cola commercial from the 70’s is a beautiful example of what, in today’s environment seems virtually impossible.

The truth is, we are all connected so when we’re unkind to someone, we are, in reality failing to treat ourselves with love and compassion. If you think of all humanity, animals, and even the rocks and trees, each of us is a thread in the warp and woof which creates a beautiful living tapestry. Unkind acts damage the collective fabric which joins us, weakening and making it less resilient.

Self-Love Can Begin the Healing Process

The world is full of unkindness these days. Whether it’s overt hate or simply disrespect, it’s all boils down to one thing: a lack of love in people’s lives. Whether that lack manifests itself as money, possessions, a coveted job, or a relationship, expression of what’s lacking comes out the same. What’s even worse is that a lack of self-love is at the root of the problem.

When life doesn’t give people what they want, they choose to respond by lashing out, spewing hate, and blaming other people or groups instead of looking within to see what they actually lack. They fail to see the solution to their lack lies in learning to love themselves and the gaping hole in their lives is exposed. Their emotions become like an open wound, aggravated by anything or anyone that fails to salve their wound. The salve they themselves have always possessed gets buried deeper and deeper.

We Need a Moratorium on Blame

When we use blaming words like “You made me feel…” or “you did this to me” we put others on the defensive. They react to our words and how those words make them feel rather than listening or trying to understand. They’ll dig into their own emotional luggage compartment and counter what they feel is an attack with one of their own. At least some of this emotional backlash could be avoided if we simply re-worded things so as not to assign responsibility for our feelings to someone else. You could start with “when you said this I felt that” and open the dialogue to why you felt what you did. Give your friend a chance to help you resolve an old emotional issue and you’ll both walk away feeling loved instead of attacked.

We can only control our own reactions. So it’s up to us to step back and observe our emotional responses objectively before deciding how to respond. Though I doubt any of us other than maybe the Dalai Lama will ever master our emotions, it is possible to temper the way we react once one of the myriad we possess is inadvertently triggered. First, we need to turn down the heat beneath those emotions. When they’re already at the boiling point, even a minuscule trigger can set them off and containment is nearly impossible.

Distortion of Truth is the Root of Hate

What is and isn’t true nowadays often depends on who you talk to. This distortion of truth plays directly into those already overheated emotions. Too many things are now becoming “true” simply because they’ve been repeated so many times. Too many people believe because it comes from someone they trust, or disbelieve because the speaker is someone they distrust. Our responses are being triggered, not by what is true, but by what we believe is true. All too often, emotions are boiling over based on “truths” which have no substantiation whatsoever.

As friendships are severed and atrocities inflicted on the basis of subjective truth, volatility within humanity runs rampant. The effects of such volatility are as destructive as the wild fires which have been burning for weeks in Montana and elsewhere.

Think First, Then Act. Not the Other Way Around.

We need to question things, do our own due diligence. Until we, first as individuals, begin to look closely at what we’ve been told is true, we won’t be able to detach ourselves from the backlash over disparate truths. Until we refuse to become part of the manipulations which pit human being against human being, we won’t be able to help thwart this massive rendition of Sherman’s march to the sea.

Sitting, watching and waiting won’t in the end, solve the problems we’re having. But sitting, watching, and waiting until we understand better what’s true and what isn’t before speaking our piece or jumping into the fray with voices raised and epithets flying will help avoid an endless conflagration of reactions.

Understanding Doesn’t Mean We Must Agree

We don’t have to agree with everyone but it can help to try to put ourselves in their shoes. Get a feel for where they’re coming from; why they believe what they do, and why those beliefs are causing them to react with such venom. Dig deeply into what makes them so afraid they have to lash out with hateful words and acts in order to protect what they fear losing.

The voice of reason needs to come forth. It can take something as small as waiting a moment before reacting to give yourself a chance to see what’s real and what’s fabricated. If you react to hate with more hate, you might as well just pour gasoline on a fire, then stand back and watch your whole world burn to a cinder.

Don’t lose sight of the fact we’re all connected; all woven into the same fabric of being. We owe it to our collective selves to learn to listen without reacting.

Be the Mediator Instead of Another Extremist

Most of all, understand what motivates people to go to extremes. Many are flying on pure emotion. Those in power know it and are using it to keep everyone off-balance and reacting instead of thinking. Many are committing acts that are abhorrent to a rational human being. It is up to us to avoid reacting with emotion. Instead, we must step back and try to understand what drove them to go to such an extreme. We all hit that point at times, shut off our rational side and fly on pure emotion. But we are all also rational human beings capable of thinking things through and finding better ways to express our displeasure and lack. One person at a time, we can turn the tide of irrationality and hate.

Find Reasons to be Grateful

Every life has blessings. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find them, but they are there. Even finding 5 a day raises our emotional barometer significantly. So here are my 5 for the day.

  1. I am grateful for the gift I’ve been given and the courage to voice what may not be popular.
  2. I am grateful for the encouragement I receive from both likely and unlikely sources.
  3. I am grateful for love. It will truly be humanity’s salvation.
  4. I am grateful for understanding. We all have it, but sometimes need to receive a little before we find our own.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, understanding, compassion, kindness, giving, receiving, acceptance, joy, inspiration, motivation, sharing, caring, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Watch the Facebook Live that inspired this post here.

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

 

When Life Gives You Manure, Grow Vegetables and Share Them

Using the Manure That’s Been Slung to Good Purpose

The last year has seen a dramatic increase in hate-filled exhibitions and exhortations, all to support someone else’s agenda than the perpetrators (with a notable exception or two). Much of it has been stirred up for a purpose which, even now, I don’t think most people can see. The biggest casualty has been to the belief we are all part of the same community called Humanity. Hasn’t enough manure been slung already? If you ask me, there’s enough to grow vegetables for the entire world!

I’ve seen this happen on a small scale such as a woman’s response to one of my Next Door posts in which she called me an outsider because I don’t live in her artificially elevated housing development located less than 2 miles from my own humble tract. I’ve seen it on a larger scale in the increase in hate crimes at our colleges and universities, and in elementary school children spouting sexist propaganda. Someone even tried to tell me they get it from their teachers!

But I’ve also seen an increase in posts and articles about love and hope. We are all in this together, like it or not, so why not make it easier on ourselves by choosing to help rather than hinder, or worse, tear each other down?

We Have a Choice to Spread Love and Positivity or Hate and Negativity. Which Will You Choose?

This quote appeared on my Facebook news feed yesterday, and I believe it sums up where we are quite succinctly.

-When great evil occurs, great good follows -Nichiren Daishonin

Think about it. In recent years, when terrorists took over airplanes and flew them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, what happened?

In my neighborhood alone, neighbors who’d never even talked before came together. And it was true in communities all over the country. People came together with compassion and love. They offered encouragement, support and a sense of unity for the people in our country. The cooperative zeal lasted for a while, but without adequate fuel, people soon returned to their predominantly self-involved lives. The truth is, as a group, we humans lack the internal motivation to help other people just because we can.

Unfortunately, to inspire such cooperation typically requires a traumatic event and a major upheaval. What we’re facing now is considerably well thought out and insipid as hell. I’m not alone in feeling frightened by its very insidiousness.

Fear and hatred are what feed this beast. Divisiveness is its ultimate goal. As long as we’re afraid…yes, afraid to help our neighbors, the beast will win. The next Holocaust will be upon us before we even realize it, and we’ll be sucked into its gaping maw with little or no resistance.

We All Have Gifts. It’s Our Choice to Use Them, Abuse Them or Ignore Them.

Fortunately, there are many who are not letting fear paralyze them. Who are not willing to watch their neighbors face unchecked abuse while mistakenly thinking Thank goodness it’s not me. It will never happen to me. I, for one, applaud those who aren’t afraid or unwilling to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of someone they don’t even know. I’m not that brave.

But I won’t be an ostrich either, burying my head in the sand, never realizing how easy I’m making it for someone to come by and sever my head from my body. We each have our gifts, our tools with which we can spread a different message; a message of hope, love and global community. My gift is words, and I would be dishonoring that gift if I remained silent right now. I would be tossing that gift back in the Universe’s face if I chose not to use it to do good. In so doing, I would truly become unworthy of achieving my dream of becoming both a published author and a motivational speaker. I can’t, nay, I won’t take that risk.

I raised my children to appreciate any and all gifts and compliments, no matter how small. How can I not do the same? This gift of mine is huge, though it took me years to acknowledge both its existence and its purpose. With it, I add my voice to those who may be braver than I. I lend my support in a manner I know well, despite the fact, or maybe because it pushes me out of my own comfort zone. And I’ll use it to urge others to do the same.

Whether it’s wearing a safety pin on your shirt to show you’re a safe place for the oppressed (and thanks to my friend Lorna, I’ll be carrying several with me to share with other like-minded people), stepping in when you see someone being abused or taken advantage of, or simply sharing words of hope and encouragement. Please believe it all helps.

Random Acts of Kindness help. Paying it Forward helps. Sharing articles written both by supporters and groups being targeted helps. Be the one small drop in the sea of humanity which causes the ripple of love and healing. And if the messages I’m sharing here resonate, please share my posts as well.

Sometimes, the Answer You Seek Can Be Found in the Words of Others. The Answer Guides You to Be Part of the Change.

My friend Peter has been sharing a lot of very interesting and thought provoking work lately. I shared one of them in my last post, and share another today. This one really gave me a clearer perspective of the ramifications of the events of the last year or so which culminated last Tuesday. I encourage you to read it and to do so with an open mind and a receptive heart. Seven Thoughts on Waking up in Our America

I have my prejudices. We all do. That doesn’t mean we have to listen to them. To let them guide our actions. Before you generalize an ethnic or religious group; a gender or lifestyle; or anything different from yourself, take a moment to stop and breathe. Take a moment to look past the outer covering; the clothing, the flesh. You’ll likely find a heart which is either filled with love, or longing to be loved. Just like you and me. Even those spouting hurtful and hateful things have a heart capable of loving, and likely do love, if selectively right now.

At any time, we are being called to both the darkness and the light. The darkness is a tricky bastard though, and adept at masking its true purpose. Sometimes, it takes a light shined by someone else to pierce its veil. Some of us need to be that light in the darkness. Some of us need to put aside our own feelings and just shine with no agenda and no force behind our light except love. If we shine brightly enough, consistently enough, those who have been misled will find their way back. It’s not for us to push them. It’s only for us to light the path so they can find their way to it on their own.

Above All, Express Your Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the wonderful gift I’ve been given, and for the courage to use it.
  2. I am grateful for all of the people who have the courage to speak even when faced with darkness or a blank wall of hate.
  3. I am grateful for the people who are reading my words, and hope they will share the ones they think will help others.
  4. I am grateful for my own ever-expanding circle of friends who have learned to give and receive love, and from whom I learn something new each and every day.
  5. I am grateful for hope. It truly is an eternal flame.

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Image courtesy of Don McCullough via Flickr

November 13, 2014 Why do humans stand in judgement? #shericonaway

Have you ever been slammed for posting your opinion?

A few days ago, after listening to an incredibly beautiful rendition of “Mary Did you Know” by Pentatonix, I was prompted to post the following comment:

 I love the song even though it’s really a religious song which doesn’t apply to me, personally. This version is hauntingly beautiful.

What followed was a dozen posts, some agreeing with me, some understanding what I was saying without judgement, and then, there were those who I put into the category of “the only right way to believe and have faith is mine. All others will go to hell unless they see my light.” They include the following:

 1. Just maybe it’s trying to tell you something – really listen to the words. God bless you in a special way.

 

2. So sad to see people turning from faith. Just know that God is always there and waiting should you ever need him. I understand issues with “religion” just know that God only wants a “Relationship” with you and that is not found in ANY church. Prayers are for your salvation. Peace and love to you all.

 

3. There will come a time when you find out that it DID apply to you. So sad.

C.M. posted a very well-written response I’d like to share before giving you my response to quote number 1 above.

 

I don’t believe in god or the idea god was born from a Virgin so to me the lyrics don’t really say anything. They tell a story I don’t believe occurred. But I can respect those who believe it including PTX themselves and that such beliefs bring people a lot of peace, as long as they don’t take those ideals too far. And I respect it as a beautifully arranged and sung piece of music. I was happy to see several non-gospel songs on this album as going too far down the religious track can alienate a lot of people who don’t believe or have issues with religion.

Finally, here is my response to number 2 above:

 

So sad to see people believing that their concept of faith is the only one instead of embracing the diversity of our fellow humans, not only in looks and ideas, but also in beliefs. Coexisting means appreciating and even reveling in the fact that we do not all believe in the same things. I pity the narrow minded for they never allow themselves the opportunity to learn about those around them right down to their very core. They hit the spot that says “their god isn’t my god” and immediately say “something is wrong with that person.” Don’t you realize that by denying the rest of us in our own wholeness, you are denying an important part of yourself as well?

Not being one to get into a pissing match on someone else’s page, I simply answered “LOL” to number 3 and left it at that, knowing full well that I would at some point address it right here.

Why have so many people throughout history used religion and their so-called “faith” as an excuse to spew hatred and spread misery?

This morning, a dear friend shared the following and I think it sums up what I’m trying to say farMaya Angelou-hate better than I can say it (though you know I will expound further). From the Romans to the Crusades to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, man has seen fit to criticize, browbeat, discriminate and even murder those who follow a different “faith”, though, in every case, this really means “religion”. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my definitions, nor will I think any different of you if you do. I’m simply sharing my take, here.

In my opinion, religion has very little, if anything to do with a person’s faith. It is simply a man-made construct to bring people together, quite often for both a sense of community and to do good works for those less fortunate. But it is also misused on far too many occasions as an excuse to give small groups the power to think for the masses who then become mindless parrots for a bunch of dogma they don’t even understand. “Religion” in and of itself is simply another man made institution, ripe for abuse and no different from our political system. Individuals rise to power and dictate what the masses may do, believe and accept. Same sex marriage, anyone? How about homosexuality? Abortion?

“Faith”, which is too often erroneously used interchangeably with “religion”, is found in the heart of each individual, though many doom themselves to a life unfulfilled by stifling their own inner voice in order to conform with the beliefs and expectations of others. “Faith” is connecting directly with our Source, under whatever name we choose to give it. “Faith” can certainly be honored while following a particular religious path, provided one allows oneself to think outside that religion’s box. In a lot of cases with regard to Western religion, that means eschewing the belief in “the one and true faith” and accepting, even embracing the many different paths the people around us follow.

Here’s a news flash, folks. A man named “Jesus” did not die so that we could be absolved of our sins by accepting this man as our freaking savior. As far as I’m concerned, that’s about as meaningful as a mother telling her child “wait until your father gets home” instead of dealing with the child’s misbehavior herself.

We must all take responsibility for our own actions.

How’s that for a unique concept? You screw up, you have consequences. You can’t go into a predetermined building, confess your crime and be protected from those consequences. And why should you be? Without those consequences you wouldn’t learn…you wouldn’t grow! Consequences are a part of our learning experience. How audacious to say “just believe, unquestioningly, what we tell you and you will no longer have to face those nasty consequences every time you screw up or act unkindly.” How blind and unthinking to actually believe those words.

We’re intended to make mistakes along the way to becoming caring, thoughtful, giving people. Being a good Christian or Jew or Buddhist or Muslim or any other thing you might call yourself isn’t about going into a building once a week to be preached at or going through a bunch of preordained rituals called “praying”, it’s about giving love freely, respecting other people and their differences, being kind to everyone(and I know from personal experience that this one is tough!), and forgiving yourself and others when those inevitable mistakes occur.

I don’t claim to have mastered any of these things yet, and may not even do so in this particular human existence, but each mistake I make, each lesson I learn does bring me closer to my own Divinity, just as it does for everyone else. Passing judgement on those of us who don’t believe as you do, in my opinion, makes your road a little longer than mine because your lessons still involve learning to think for yourself, trusting your own heart and not only accepting but embracing the fact that others believe differently than you do.

Religion does have a purpose, but giving people an excuse for their bad behavior tarnishes the word for the rest of us, and causes it to leave a bad taste in our mouths. “Religion” and “Faith” might once have been synonymous but that day has passed.

I welcome and appreciate your comments, but please keep them friendly, addressing the issues, not the poster, whether that poster is me or another commenter. I realize that this post will elicit strong feelings in some, but you can still express those feelings in a manner which promotes an interesting discussion as opposed to a fight.

My gratitudes are:
1. I am grateful for the people who have woken up and embraced everyone’s right to believe as they choose.
2. I am grateful for the lessons I’m given to teach me to be more accepting and less judgmental.
3. I am grateful for the people who fire me up with their myopic views because they remind me to keep my own mind open and accepting.
4. I am grateful for my progress on the path to reconnecting with my own Divinity.
5. I am grateful for progress which comes into our lives in so many diverse ways.
6. I am grateful for abundance: challenges, love, lessons, peace, harmony, opportunities, charity, harmony, health and prosperity.

Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

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