For any of those who don't know: I'm not religious by any mainstream definition. I'm also not a "I hate everyone who subscribes to any organized religion rarr rarr" person: the best definition I ever found for my beliefs is "henotheist": One who acknowledges the potential existence of a god or gods, but does not ascribe worship to any one or ones of them. Or as someone once put it, "I wake up in the morning and I believe my kitchen table is still there. Doesn't mean I fall on my knees in the pantry every day and yell 'O GREAT KITCHEN TABLE, WITHOUT WHOM WE ARE NAUGHT!'"
So anyway, my basic take on religion is, you do what makes the core of your heart glow, be it in the name of Jehovah or Jesus or Mohammad or Hera or Set or His Noodly Appendage or Just Because It's The Right Thing To Do, Dammit, and I'll do mine. And we'll clasp hands when we meet and share a smile in knowing we're doing right. Neh?
One of the most vitriolic rants I ever went on was when I was driving and ended up behind a minivan with a bumper sticker that said "Live your life as if Jesus were watching." I went absolutely apoplectic. My main points, amidst the cursing, were that A. if one were a true christian you should be following christ's teachings without having to be repeatedly guilted into it. And B. if I were God (which I realize is a blasphemous statement but work with me here) I think I would be MORE receptive to those people who had spent their lives doing good works BECAUSE THEY WERE GOOD rather than those that suddenly went out of fear FROM A BUMPER STICKER "oh gee, I wanted to be a selfish, conniving jerk, but since Jesus is watching I guess I better pretend to help people!" Who is more dedicated to your cause, those who follow your tenets without knowing your name, or those who disagree with you but pretend to follow your laws because they want to suck up to you? Not to say that all or even most xians do so, but the method of calling was just distasteful in my view.
At any rate! I will never tell anyone what religion to follow or not follow (although if your religion tells you to directly harm me or mine, we're going to have words, and by words I mean feet), I just personally believe in do the right goddamn thing, you know what it is. Ascribe it to anyone or anything you want, even yourself. Just DO IT. We all have different backgrounds and wants and fetishes and kinks and fears and dreams and everything. We are all so incredibly different in an infinite number of ways. But when you come down to the raw, primal, child-heart core, we all just want to get along and be safe. We want it all to just be okay.
And here's my theme song for it.
"'Cause everyone is forgiven now... 'cause tonight's the night the world begins again." You can take this in the fully Judeo-Christian meaning: Christ's birth and death has fulfilled the Old Testament covenant, and all sins are forgiven and we can move on anew. Or if you're not secular, make it more personal. Right now, take an old grudge. It may be someone you haven't spoken to in years. It may be someone you never intend to speak to again. Forgive them. You don't have to re-establish communication with them and bring them back into your life, gods no. Plenty of people get shut out because they are abusive and dangerous and toxic. I'm not saying let them back in, I'm saying FORGIVE them. Recognize in yourself that they are sick, and hurt. They lash out and injure those around them because it's all they know. Don't let them back in your life any more than you would invite a rabid dog into your yard. But just understand that the rabid dog is sick, it does not choose its madness, and loathing it is a waste of energy. Forgive it, put it (down) out of your life, and let the grudge go. They can remember it and dwell on it all they like, but now it only hurts them.
for one night, stop thinking about how other people's religions or politics or birth control choices or gender or orientation or skin color or nationality or ANYTHING rubs raw sandpaper on the morals you hold dear. I'm not saying let it GO, that's impossible, I know. Just... hit pause. Stop. Breathe. Think about that person you are so hostile against right now. Dig down to the core of them. Under everything is the child, hands clamped over ears, who wants everything to Stop And Be Okay Now.
I'm not saying this should change the world, stop wars, or change everyone's worldview or make everything better. I'd just like everyone to stop for one second and tap into that scared, tired child. Because he or she is in the core of every one of us.