Thursday, 18 August 2016

Living in an intolerant world

We all know at least one person who has strong, polarising opinions on at least one topic, often the ones you are told to never discuss on a first date: religion, politics, and the like. You may even be one of those people. It's good to believe in something, and it's good to be passionate about things. I have a problem when the passionate belief negates the existence of all other opinions. Aka when your beliefs become intolerant.

I am not religious. I am not sure if I'm really an atheist or an agnostic or what I am, but I've never believed in a benevolent personification who will weigh the scales when you die or forgive you all sins if you ask really nicely. I do believe in living a good life, in treating others like you would want them to treat you, and in a moral code. I believe that your sexual preferences are your business and I believe those who identify with the LGBTI community are just as capable of good or evil as those who don't. I don't believe there is anything wrong with them. Basically, I believe in tolerance and acceptance and I am trying to live my life with these in mind.

It's not always easy - we humans seem to be wired to be reactive when something different to our norm comes our way. I understand that people have different opinions, and in many ways that's what makes living great. How boring must it be to live in a world where everyone thinks and acts the way you do. That being said, I find it very difficult not to react rudely when faced with intolerance, and the one I'm focusing on now is religious intolerance. Every time I come across it I have to take a deep breath and try not to bang my head against a wall, which, let's face it, would be completely pointless.

This goes for intolerance from both sides of various fences. I have grown up with predominantly Christian friends, with some Hindus and Wiccans as well, and for the most part, this rant doesn't apply to them at all. However, along the way I have met a few bible-bashers who condemn all non-Christians to hell and lament our deficiency and lack of enlightenment. I've also met some atheists who are just as bad as the aforementioned bashers, who condemn anyone with a Faith as being illogical and stupid. Then you have the typical inter-religion damnation which leads to fanatical wars and nothing by misery (it soothes my soul to hear stories of inter-faith communities protecting each other during times of strife, like the Muslims and Christians did in Egypt). Finally, there's the intra-religion intolerance, and this one particularly boggles my mind. I don't know enough about non-Christian religions to comment on them, but for the case of Christianity, just look at much of Ireland's terror, or the Jacobite war in Scotland. Same religion, but woe to you if you belonged to the wrong denomination.

And then there are the religious ideals/doctrines which shake the evil stick at various groups because their religious text, written and transcribed and translated numerous times since its inception, tells you to. The obvious one here is almost every mainstream religion under the Sun and the prescribed intolerance towards the LGBTI community. I have gay friends and I cannot understand how anyone can think them evil and impure and diseased merely because of who they are attracted to. Every time I hear the phrase "pray the gay away" my mind explodes and want to punch something. It frustrates me to no end.

I don't understand religious intolerance at all. I find it utterly depressing. If your faith or lack thereof doesn't impact negatively or cause harm to those around you, why can we not all just accept that different things work for different people? This is why we have different flavours of ice-cream.

Oh, to live in an ideal, naive world...