This is a very sensitive topic to discuss, and, while I have made every effort to translate into words as “mild as milk” my ideas, I apologize in advance if something I wrote ends up hurting someone.
As a religious person, I find myself constantly under attack—the same attack that religion is accused of putting others under. It seems like this situation is not going to end up anywhere good, unless someone steps up and tries to reset everyone’s focus from proving who is right and wrong, to building a world welcoming for all.
An Easy Example
For example, I don’t drink alcohol—and I have been made fun of because of this for a large part of my life. But the thing is, when it comes to alcohol, there is only one thing I loathe: when an intoxicated person sits behind the wheel of a car and puts their own lives and the lives of everyone in their immediate surrounding in danger.
But that’s OK—I highly doubt anyone will tell me that I am wrong in wanting to make sure that everyone is safe!
So for me, living in a country where alcohol is legal but driving intoxicated isn’t makes complete sense—even if I, personally, for religious reasons, do not drink. I have a right to live my life the way I want to, just like the person who wants to be intoxicated does—as long as we don’t put each other’s lives in danger.
A More Difficult Example
In some religious groups, the female body is not meant to be exposed. This means that some women only wear long pants/dresses, and even cover up their hair, their bodies, or even, everything but their eyes. Again, that’s their decision, and it doesn’t hurt me.
It does hurt them, however, not to have the option to see a female doctor; not to have the option of revealing their face to a woman to confirm their identity in a court of justice; or not to have the option to exercise in a gym because there is no “women-only” area, or the windows are not tinted.
I don’t find that fair, even if I don’t agree with the concept of completely covering yourself up, that these women don’t have access to such essential things. And I feel that they are basically being discriminated against, but because they are part of a religious group, they have to suffer the consequences of the discrimination some of their co-religionaries have wrought on others.
We Need To Do Better
This is an impossible situation we have cornered ourselves in, one in which discrimination begets discrimination. And I feel like that the root cause is needing to be proven right. We can’t seem accept that there are different ways to lead a good life; and so, as long as other ways of life exist, we can’t rest easy.
But that makes no sense.
I am sure we are better than this, and we can create a world in which everyone can be comfortable. We have sent humans in space and have marked the moon with our footsteps, so don’t tell me that we can’t figure out a way to make sure everyone can live, within reason, a life that they choose!
What is needed is the understanding that there are a number of ways to live a good life; that just because others do not agree with you, it doesn’t mean that you are wrong, but rather, that your decision is wrong for them; and an appreciation for the reasons why people do some things, even if we do not agree with them. This will go a long way into making us all less defensive, and, then, able to figure out how to live side-by-side in such a way that you can do your thing while I do mine, both of us living our best life while not just tolerating one another, but actually appreciating each other.