Religion is something that was created by mankind to do three things: keep people sane, make them easier to govern and give them a reason to unite as one people. At its core, whether you wish to believe it or not, almost every religion seems to preach the same kind of messages. They tell us to be good, do good and love everything and everyone. In spite of the peaceful bases upon which all religions have been founded, when you look back at the history of the human race, you cannot help but think of the terrible violence that has ensued as a byproduct of religion. From the Crusades to the Holocaust to the recent attack on the Charlie Hedbo offices, religious wars continue to this day.
I am sure I am not alone when I ask, if we are such an advanced and developed species, then why can’t we get past all of our differences?
It is during your adolescent that you first realize that the world is not all peaches and roses. You realize that all men are not treated equally as well as the fact that all people are not even seen equally. You come to understand that people classify themselves as belonging to a certain faith and celebrate their own holidays and practice their own customs entirely different from your own. As you grow, whether it be your religious leader, a parent or an older sibling, someone will shape the way you view people of other faiths. You will be told to stay away from certain types of people, or to refuse to accept an invitation to the house of a follower of a certain religion. All these sanctions will be placed on your behavior for what reason? Because you believe in a different god? The simple answer is yes.
This past month, I went to see an Indian film called “PK” with my parents (what else is a nineteen-year-old to do on a Wednesday night?) It stars Bollywood-legend Aamir Khan as an alien-astronaut, PK, stranded on Earth. PK struggles to find a way to contact his people to take him back home. During his journey on Earth, PK asks the Earthlings he encounters where he could find the stolen device that would call his spaceship back. Almost all of them told him something along the lines of, “Only God knows.” Naturally, not knowing who or what this God character was, PK sets out on a quest to find him. PK soon realizes that there is not just one entity or person that these people were referring to. He then came to the understanding that different people believed in different Gods because of their varying religions. PK struggled so mightily to grasp this idea that he came up with on his own. He surmised that there are two types of god; the one that we created and the one that created us, and it is the one that created us that matters most.
It does not matter if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, atheist or agnostic. The aforementioned message is essentially universal. It stresses human unity and at the same time eliminates the impetus on religious belief. Whether you believe humans were directly or indirectly created by the work of a higher being or not, you can agree that each and every human being is made of the same basic elements. Therefore, the next time you see someone wearing a cross, a hijab, a turban, a bindi or a yamaka, try not to think about their or your religious predispositions. Instead, think about what unites you in a more special way than any faith can: humanity.