We've heard it a million times, “Be Yourself.”
From Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
To Lady Gaga: “Don’t you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are.”
Every person on the planet is different. We are all individual. Not in a “special snowflake” sort of way. In a way that says we are all different and it is OK to be different. We find things that we can participate in to find others who are similar to us. Religion is a perfect example of this.
If you celebrate Yule or worship Yahweh, you are very different, yet the same. Though the religions practices behind each of these are very different. The individuals have the same right to practice them. They have the right to be who they are. They have the right to practice their faith without fear of being harmed by others. Our forefathers thought this right was so important that it was the first item in the Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Now of course this doesn't mean that there isn't some issues. Currently we have sitting government officials that would like to outlaw Islam. There seems to be some sort of thought process in the minds of some religious people that in order for their religion to be right, everyone must accept it as the right one. I'll use the extreme example of Westboro Baptist Church (WBC).
Best known for protesting funerals, WBC makes no excused for their hard-line view of the bible and God. They take the bible as the literal word of God whereas most other religions admit that the book was written by men and should be looked at in a more figuratively. In WBC there is no room for anyone else to have free will or for anyone else to believe anything other than exactly what they believe.
Knowing that there is a church in Kansas that believes that it is OK to protest funerals, put t-shirts on little kids that say hateful things, does nothing to change my belief system. The numerous churches nestled in my county of 557 square miles does not change what is safely tucked away in my heart and mind. I’m quite OK.
|Screenshot of Google Maps - red dots are churches|
There are groups out there that feel they need to spread the word of God to all the earth. Some could care less if I end up with eternal damnation. For this, my friends, I feel truly blessed. Evangelicals, for example believe that they need to get out and convert living person on the planet to Christianity. From the remote indigenous tribes of the Amazon jungle to the witch down the street, no one is safe from the rhythmic bible thumbing of the Evangelical. Often quoting the bible as a reason to do so.
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
"Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
However they missed this verse.
“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet” (Matthew 10:14).
Religion is one of the most argued topics in history. For the most part, we cannot agree to disagree; so much so, that wars are still being fought today over religion. Even within their own religious groups, it seems that there are those who are not allowed to simply be themselves. The video below shows monks fighting in what each of them consider the holiest place on the planet; The Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
As I sat here writing this I had thought I would wrap up with how we should all be ourselves and allow others to be themselves. But in my research to this point, it looks like there are just some people who cannot do that. In fact, being themselves is actually to stop letting others be themselves. So instead of me telling the world to live in peace and harmony, I’ll quote an article I found on Psychology Today.
Gretchen Rubin: “Be yourself, but keep your inner jerk in check.”