I have discussed many times on this blog, humankind’s obsession with being right about everything we believe about the world. In the past, I’ve described this propensity for righteousness as not just something we do, but something we are. In other words, being right is the defining characteristic of our humanity. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and I recently had the thought that we may be this way because almost from birth, every culture and religion on Earth begins to teach us to one degree or another that we are not who we actually are. Every society or culture organized by virtue of how it defines the members of its group as distinct and different from the rest of humanity, feels it must do this so all individuals in the group act in the best interests of the group. In actuality, I believe that the entire premise that one human being is different from another human being by virtue of where he/she lives, the color of their skin, how they worship or any superficial difference between people is a lie.
I think it is this conflict between whom society has told us we are and whom on some deep level we know we actually are, that creates in all of us this compulsive need to be right. To put it another way, the stress created by living a lie is what drives our compulsion to be right. Living a lie creates gilt. Guilt happens as a result of doing the things our culture or society compels us to do on a daily basis, that fly in the face of what our inner self (the part of us that intuitively knows right from wrong) tells to do or not to do. At some point, the gilt turns into shame. If gilt is the feeling we get when we do things we feel are wrong, shame is what we feel when believe we are the wrongful things we do. Shame is the most painful thing a human being can endure. We humans will do almost anything to relieve ourselves of shame. The antidote for guilt and shame is righteousness. If we are a right, we are justified in what we do, no matter how reprehensible and atrocious we feel the behavior to be.
I don’t know exactly how this plays out in other cultures or religions but I do know how it plays out in American culture and religion. Like all other religions, the American Christian religion in all its forms and sects, is a blend of a basic concept that tends to attract and unify people and beliefs and dogma designed to coerce and control people in a way to separate them from others and to act for the benefit of the society and the culture or the rulers thereof. The unifying concept of Christianity is the holy trinity – the idea that God exists in three basic forms – the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It suggests that at any time we are experiencing God in one of these forms. It also suggests that we all are extensions of this God and are holy in our own right as individuals and that Christ, the Son, came to spread the good news that we are all sacred – a beautiful concept. Then it all starts to lose its validity when we seek to qualify this universally true massage by adding conditions and rituals that identify you, and qualify you, as a member of the “Christian family” and thereby entitles you to benefit from all the pleasures of paradise and heaven. Of course, all these qualifications and necessary associated behaviors have everything to do with your allegiance to your country or your country’s leadership and almost nothing to do with Christ or God.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Christianity and the belief in God, as long as it stays true to its purpose to unite in peace, love and harmony all of creation, including non-believers. I think any religion that is true to that intention, including Christianity can be highly beneficial in helping people understand God and creation in a way to help us lead better lives. For example, in a previous post, I suggested that we all are three people existing as one. We are who we think we are, which I described as ego. We are who we want people to think we are, which I described as personality and we are who we really are, which I described as spirit. This is in perfect keeping with the Christian belief of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It’s a way to understand how God could exist in all of us and thereby give us insight as to what God might really be.
I’m not suggesting that what I’m saying is what we should all believe. I am saying that if we want God in all our lives, we have to think of ways to make Him (Her) more accessible to all of us and possibly make the concept of God more nonreligious. A man named William Paul Young wrote a book titled, “The Shack”, in which man finds God in a Shack in the woods. He suggests in that novel that the way we think of God in the Christian religion is that of God being the darkness that Christ came to save us from. He suggests that there may be more useful and unifying ways of regarding the holly trinity than the way we have traditionally viewed it.
Religion has had a lot to do with where we are in this country today. William Paul Young believes that the pain of the division we are all suffering from stems from a longing to embrace each other. I have been saying for almost four years on this blog that we are the keys to our own salvation. Can’t we at least talk about it?