Defiling Religion With Hate: How Individuals, Places of Worship, Society, and the Press Can Counter the Trend
Once again, terror has struck. Once again, lives have been lost. Once again, religion has been defiled by hate. The attacks in Pittsburgh, Christchurch, and Sri Lanka have reminded all of us that hateful people can skew the teachings of any religion and use them as a justification for violent actions.
Sadly, attacks by the few can create divisions among the many, expanding existing chasms between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and creating new ones. We must work diligently against that trend. Hate can spread like a virus.
Here are some of the things that individuals, places of worship, society and the press can do to minimize hatred's influence on society.
I recently listened to an interview on NPR with a self-proclaimed globalist. He rightly pointed out that the globalist view—which, among other things, takes into consideration the effects that our actions have on other societies around the world—does not inherently contradict allegiance to our country any more than our allegiance to our family is antithetical to our allegiance to our country.
Under the right circumstances, both can flourish.
Surplus Leads to Charity
There is no denying that allegiance is subject to a natural progression. We choose our needs above those of others, choose our families needs above those of other families, choose our communities needs above other communities… and on it goes.
However, when working with a surplus, it is also natural for individuals, communities, and nations to become more charitable. When basic needs have been met, people are more open to helping others to meet their needs.
In addition, when people understand the link between their actions and the influences that those actions have on others, they often change their behavior (sometimes at considerable expense to themselves). This shift in behavior is subject to moral growth, i.e. an ability to see the world from a variety of perspectives and change conduct in accordance with that, essentially to use imagination to elicit empathy and compassion.
Carol Gilligan’s model for moral development shows that human beings generally move from being selfish to being able to care for others in their near environment to, in rare cases, showing genuine care for a large number of people they don’t know.
When we compare her model to others in the same vein—including Piaget, Loevinger, Erikson, Steiner, Beck, Graves, Kohlberg, Peck, Fowler, Wilber and others—moral growth corresponds with people’s ability to see the world from an ever-increasing number of perspectives and act accordingly; a classification that rhymes with the human ability for compassion, defined as the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
Simply put, moral growth leads to increased compassion and care, both of which are central to the development of social harmony.
Let’s take a quick look at the progression.
When I moved from Iceland to Texas in 2010, I was forced to face several unconscious and uncharacteristically judgmental attitudes.
In Iceland, I had labeled myself a political moderate and my voting history included both center-right and center-left political parties (plural, as in, there are a lot of political parties in Iceland, not just the two choices we have here in the USA).
Furthermore, I stood outside of organized religion as a part of the spiritual-but-not-religious movement. I thought of myself as fairly evolved spiritually and predominantly free of pejorative views.
Yet, after we arrived, I struggled mightily with many of the religious and political ideologies I was faced with in Texas. For a while there, I couldn’t even get myself to interact with people who showed different ideological preferences.
Connecting Through Our Shared Humanity
Thank goodness for my wife and kids. Because of my children, who were two and seven when we moved to Texas, I’ve interacted with a number of parents through everything from sports and band to Girl Scouts and Mu Sool Won. Furthermore, my wife, who is a natural connector, has brought me along to crawfish boils, dinner clubs, game nights, and more.
Be a guest blogger
Our Vision and Primary Goals
We are an educational and social good interfaith organization. We provide people with access to strategies, methods, and ideas that promote social harmony and enable bridge-building across divides. We use the term interfaith broadly to mean 'a strong belief in someone or something' and focus on improving interrelations between people who have different worldviews. Our primary goals are to remind people of our shared humanity and to support new and ongoing efforts.
Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in touch. You can also connect with us on social media.
©Harmony Interfaith Initiative
Registered in Hays County, Texas
Founded in 2018
Connect With Us