|Picture taken from ninbra|
Today on the train, I heard the following statement:
"I don't get why people are religious. It's all fake anyway."
I avoid the topic of religion in conversation. It is not because I don't hold any opinions on it. It's simply because I believe religion to be a very sensitive, private matter and should only be talked about responsibly. And very few people do. For the purposes of this post, I'll do my best to be one of those who give careful thoughts to their words.
I am not religious - that is to say I don't actively practice a faith. I did so when I was younger but my father, a convert, has always told me to think for myself. He never subscribed me the title of a Muslim child. He, himself, has been known to bend the 'rules' every now and again. And I guess it was because of him that I choose not to follow Islam to the core but retain those principles that reflect compassion, tolerance and overall, principles that better me as a person. So if one were to narrow my identity down to my beliefs, I guess that makes me "an ultra-cool-spiritual-being-who's-adopted-a-certain-ethos-from-all-faiths-who-also-likes-doing-yoga-and-enjoys-long-walks-on-the-beach."
Sad to say, not everyone holds a similar thinking. When I was overseas, my auntie (who is, thankfully, a very progressive and reasonable person), revealed a conversation she had with my mum. My mum said to my auntie: "I know I'm not the most conservative person, but if I've raised my daughter to be good, compassionate and to lead her life well, then I've done my job as a mother." I found out later that this conversation was started because my faith was questioned by my family members. All of this, as a result, have left in one or two of them avoiding me like the plague. But I guess that's family for you, huh? (What puzzles me most about all of this is that there is a convenient ignorance on the part of their teachings where questioning another's faith is a sin.)
Even though I am lax in my religious ways, I am fascinated by stories about those who have found "God" but more importantly, if there was a clear moment of revelation. I remember having a conversation with a classmate outside university, last year. She was a drug addict (and a heavy one at that, using all sorts of drugs imaginable) but stopped her addiction when she found God, sitting in the back of her car in a drug induced haze telling her that "this is your last chance, snap out of it". Now, if it was the drugs talking or something else, it was enough to abandon that lifestyle and steer herself onto a healthy path. Consequently, she is devout in her religious practices.
Often I think, I wish I had something concrete in my life to bring comfort. That no matter what hardship I experience, there's someone to tell me that there is an order and cause - and I will not be judged, but forgiven for my wrong doings. To some extent, I feel jealousy towards those who have found it in religion.
If, after all of the chaos attached to it, there's no God, no afterlife, no soulmates, no nothing... then so be it. But for now, I won't tell a 3 year old child that Santa Claus isn't real. If it makes them happy and have purpose to get out of bed in the morning on Christmas Day, I'll let them be.
"Faith is more than religion and social structure. It provides hope, stability... A sense of belonging. The surety that you are a good person, absolved of your sins. The knowledge that somebody (God) loves you, even though they know everything there is to know about you. That life has meaning, that there is some sort of order and justice to things. These are all things that everybody searches for, in some way... and some people find the answers through religion. Which is sometimes life-affirming, life-changing and/or life-saving; and therefore, worthy of our respect." - Laura Valerie, One April Morning *
* I didn't ask her directly for her permission to use this quote, but I'm hoping she will forgive me for it! Please check out her amazing, beautifully written blog!