It’s 2020, a time in which we are expected to unite, take the “moral high ground,” and be tolerant of others.
But too often it seems there is only one caveat: religion.
Why is it that, in this day and age, we still hear daily criticism belted at our religious beliefs? From the media’s narrative on faith, to our friends’ fault-finding, to even perhaps our own family’s carping, we are indoctrinated into a cynical attitude about religion.
As Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard presciently observed in his 1976 essay, Religious Influence in Society, “Probably the most critical point of attack on a culture is its religious experience. Where one can destroy or undermine religious institutions then the entire fabric of the society can be quickly subverted or brought to ruin.”
Evidently, that “attack on a culture” is occurring right in front of our eyes.
But how did we get here?
I had the unique experience of growing up in both the Scientology and Greek Orthodox communities. I saw firsthand the benefit that religion has. I saw the hope it instills.
As a teenager, I again had a unique experience: attending a Chicago high school in which a large portion of the student body were Arabic immigrants. Seeing my Muslim classmates praying five times a day gave me another lens from which to view religious devotion. (Now that was dedication!)
“Probably the most critical point of attack on a culture is its religious experience.”
But after attending university and later, in corporate America, I noticed an odd trend—the more people become “molded” into the current expectations of society, the more they become entrenched in the workaday world, the more they ignore this hope that religion had perhaps once given them. They get caught up in their fast-paced life and begin subscribing to the religious cynicism currently in vogue, despite their social media accounts preaching “tolerance.”
In trying times like those we are living in today, it is even more important than ever to be tolerant of others’ viewpoints and beliefs. We live in an era in which mere miswording can get one fired from a job. So why do we allow bigoted cracks about religion?
If there is one silver lining to this pandemic, it is that it has brought us all to the realization that we must be nicer to each other. We deserve kindness. And we all deserve to have our beliefs respected.
Let’s carry that forward into next year and beyond, and in doing so, come out stronger, kinder and better than ever.