What is faith? Is it our religious belief or is it having the confidence that our fellow man will work in the best interests of humanity? Believing in something, someone, or ourselves is a basic human need. Belief is faith.
It seems that we are living in a world filled with hatred and fear, one in which man allegedly uses the name of a religion as a reason to destroy and spread hate. There are those who hide behind supposed commandments of their god(s) to spread ruin and there are those who hate others simply because of the deity they pray to. Some people believe in a supreme deity but do not agree with the tenets of organized religion (agnostic); some do not believe in any higher presence (atheist). A growing faction is yelling that religion is THE problem why men cannot get along with other men.
We can have faith in humankind without praying to a god by any name. Or we can follow the true teachings of our chosen religions – every religion is founded on common principles that include: loving thy neighbor; forgiveness; treating others the way we want to be treated; giving charity; honoring our parents and elders; being truthful; showing kindness; and living peacefully among our fellow man. While the phrases and wordings may differ, each religion shares commonalities with the others; some religions are monotheistic and some pray to multiple gods.
Every religion has members whose interpretation of its teachings are zealous and self-serving, most often those fanatics are in the minority although they may be loud. People who choose to practice a religion should do so because they believe in the spirit of their scriptures rather than simply following step-by-step rituals with no meaning behind our actions.
Rather than focusing on the differences in our religions practices or alienating those who call themselves agnostic or atheist, our need to believe in something makes us more alike than different. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if we could embrace that sameness and work towards fostering an atmosphere of peace and unity instead of viewing others with suspicion and hatred?
As a child of a Ham Radio Operator in the 60s and 70s I remember going to group get-togethers. One of the places that held an annual picnic was a Monastery located several miles north of where we lived. The monks that lived there and hosted the event were all very friendly, intelligent, welcoming and knowledgeable. I was amazed one day during a discussion with one of these men to find he was very proficient in Hebrew scripture and my own faith of Judaism. In adolescent surprise I asked him how come he knew so much when his religion taught otherwise. His answer was so simple — to truly understand your own beliefs you need to understand what belief means to people. Every monk, he told me, was schooled in all forms of theology and was required to be proficient in multiple religions.
Perhaps this type of education is needed for all of us so that we can love and appreciate our own convictions as well as understand and respect other belief systems. Somehow we must work towards unity and love of the entire human race or there will be no world and humanity for our future generations. Mankind is our own enemy when we allow hatred in our lives.