I think the old adage “never argue religion and politics”…..is probably a very wise one, but one that is very seldom followed. Everything today seems to be based on one group either berating another group or religion, or trying to prove the superiority of “ones” party or religion over others; a lot of wasted energy and time. From time to time I fall into this trap, and in the end, always regret it, since communication is simply not possible when this kind of seeking to influence others enters the picture; better to let others think and believe what they will, and hopefully others will give that respect back to me. Even if it isn’t given back, I don’t think it is that important, since it is in the nature of being human to disagree and also to misunderstand one another.
I have also noticed that if someone has issues with his or her past, be it parental, or religious, or political; these issues have a way of getting in the way of true communication, leading to simplistic and black white judgments of those who bring to the surface these inner conflicts. I suppose problems with authority, are the most common, something that I am still seeking to work thru, though my authority issues seem to be more manageable and less painful as I get older and hopefully wiser..
I have learned that I can’t influence anyone, nor dissuade anyone of anything, nor can anyone influence me, or change my outlook, unless I am ready to put aside my own prejudices and simply listen and perhaps learn; not always an easy thing to do.
I have also experienced first hand how people tend to judge other groups or religions by their lowest common denominator, to make sweeping generalizing of the worst kind, and then sit back and act as if they have stated a great truth! I have of course done this, why else would I see it in others. When this happens to me I usually just shut down, why bother (?), better to just conserve my energy for other more constructive endeavors.
I doubt that there is anyway around this, since we are more emotional than rational, and the more rational, people protest that they are, the more black and white they can be in their sizing up others, and their beliefs, not realizing that they in turn are causing others to do the same thing to them; labeling them as representing a particular group, be it theist, atheist or something other. I suppose those of a more fundamentalist bent tend to do this, since they always have a ready quote from scripture or some philosopher, to back them up. Such an endeavor is worthless since they can be countered by some other quote from the same scriptures or philosopher, or perhaps scientist if one leans in that direction. Of course being a fundamentalist is not reserved to just the religious, atheist, and political pundits do the same thing.
I suppose religion can be the worst, we can do the worst things to each other in the name of God. I am not only speaking of those who are fundamentalist, but also liberals who can be worse in their disdain for anyone who disagrees with them. Of course there are many exceptions in both groups, but the squeaky wheel makes the most noise, another adage that is only too true.
So do I give up trying to communicate? No I don’t, but I am trying to learn that I can’t really influence what others do or think, also to let others make their own mistakes, just as I have made mine, to simply let others be, and allow God to work in their lives just as I have experienced God working in mine. While it is true that each of us is the center of his or her universe, it is good to learn that in the world of other “inner beings” who also have a rich, and deep inner life; it is best to not believe that, since they are also speaking from their own center. The only true center is God, and it is the love that flows from that Center that will allow the ability to simply listen to grow and mature, to let others be, and allow God grace to do its work. Each of us is unique, so let it be.
To treat others as I want to be treated is a difficult practice, since it takes a great deal of being present to the moment, to the person in front of me, to be able to do this. Emotions are powerful, and sometimes even if not felt are powerful in how they influence my ability to listen and to respect others.