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History and Religion

I have argued with one people too many about how one is different from the other. A part of me cautions, that topics like these could incite the wrath of a lot of people, but I cannot help wonder if I’m the only one thinking this.

When wars are started over religion, when households divide on two opposing sides, aren’t we really just fighting over events in history?

Aren’t all holy books the same? Through stories, they speak of the same principles. Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not kill. Why do we draw swords on whose prophet came first and who was the holiest?

Aren’t all holy books didactic manuals on living?

Of the religions I’ve studied, and even though I am by no means an expert, I see the same teachings. They remind us to remember we aren’t the creator; that God exists, in one name or form. They teach us that we’re a grain of sand in a sea of the universe. They show us that loving ourselves and the people around us will bring us closer to our creator. They have always spoken of love. Of forgiveness and of tolerance and compassion. Of helping the weak. And we spend countless hours arguing over who won the war.

It pains me to see people kill each other, to draw blood in the name of religion and worse, in the guise of politics, when killing is never preached in religion. No religion tells you to go out and kill someone because you think they are wrong. How does that win an argument? It is only that your opponent is dead – and there is no victory there.

I’ve heard and sometimes participated in countless arguments where people squabble over how their prophet said something and someone else would disagree. They would quote books and scholars and speak of authenticating everything, when in reality they cannot. They argue over events that took place hundreds, sometimes thousands of years ago, whether the donkey came head-first into the city or whether the floor really was made of glass or water.

Why do people fight over which teaching is true and which isn’t when the simplicities of right and wrong are stamped into every human being by default? Every holy book speaks of heaven and hell - what needs to be done to be a good human being. We’re caught in disagreements over how and when the world will end.

It will end – Everything ends! Wouldn’t it be more productive to learn to live; for whatever time we have left in the world? Together?

I sit there and wonder sometimes when the story became more important than the moral behind it?

When you give your child the lovely colored pages on Cinderella, do you argue whether the glass slipper she lost, fit her left foot, or her right foot? To the child you explain that dreams do come true. So why do we argue over the events in the stories that are written in holy books when, in fact, arguments should only arise if someone disagrees on the derived moral of the story?

The holy books partly speak of a history so many centuries before us that it is nearly impossible for many of us to verify anything anymore. Everything is about belief. Everything is about the centuries’ worth of knowledge and wisdom that has trickled down from God to the prophets to the first believers and now to us. But history is fickle. The victor always tells the tale. They decide what is good enough to be documented; they dictate what should be immortalized. Isn’t that the way of the world? So why do we argue over something none of us have lived through?

Isn’t religion about belief? Belief in the existence of the creator, the fundamentals of life, of co-existence, of self governance?

Or is religion only about history and who was right and who was wrong in a war thousands of years ago?

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