Actions Trump Religion

Filed Under (Family, Uncategorized) by Estee on 12-04-2009

I don’t mean to rain on your Easter Parade. Or for that matter, your Matza Brei. It is another religious holiday again and I wish everyone peace and happiness as you celebrate with your friends or families. Also, I would like to think of the vast majority of people who have no place to go today, who have no friends or families, or at least have not been invited by them to eat at their tables.

Religion and holidays tend to make me question everything that has to do with religion. I have seen and experienced unjust things on the “holiest” days of the year, for man cannot, by his very nature, live up to these expectations created not by God, but by man — the leaders of religions. I listen to people who won’t eat pork, but will eat a cheeseburger or shellfish, when their religion bans it. I am very interested to listen to the concept of “observance,” and “tradition,” but am equally interested at how individuals modify practice in order to suit their own needs. Religion has come to be something we consume and like all consumption, it eventually leaves us empty.

So what is it that we hang on to under the religious umbrella?

I can think of one thing: family and friends. We all want to be connected to each other. Religious holidays can sometimes force us to do it. But when the holiday is over, then what? I am concerned that what we lack is not religion, but connection and spirituality. That last word is so overused. It is sold on video tapes and spirituality is often tied in with some aspect of “becoming successful,” in a monetary sense — get in touch with yourself and the money will follow, and usually you can find some book that links in getting in touch with yourself and success in business in seven easy steps. But spirituality it isn’t concerned at all with money, achievement, success. It is concerned with love. Sometimes the money will follow and sometimes it will not. But even if it doesn’t, one can feel so filled and complete by doing the things we love. Love is about connection, a deep connection to everything around us so that we realize we are never alone.

“The Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist believe about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: ‘Let us love one another, for love is God and everyone that loveth of born of God and knoweth God.'” (From Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions, p. 75).

Religion is the most segregating and alienating aspects of human life. And that is my humble opinion. It does not urge people to act out of love, but instead act out of pity. It says you will have a place in God’s kingdom if you do “good acts,” even if you just throw money at someone or some cause. Yet, it is the most selfish way to act. Instead, if we view God as a power within us, the power of love that transcends us, we are living in the here and now, fully, with dignity, love, and respect for all life. It means that when we love others as ourselves, we try to engage with them.

I hope we can all decide not to hide behind the matzah and the Cross, but come out and treat others with love and kindness. Seems to me the world and all its creatures are so in need of this action, above all else, for John says, “‘anyone who does not know love is still in death…’ All awakening to love is spiritual awakening.” I know this to be true as far as Adam has awoken something very special within me.

If someone is suffering in not being accepted by a person or a religion, or is experiencing extrication of any sort, let us all try to listen and share. Act out of love, not to save ourselves a place in heaven. For ultimately, we ARE each other’s pain, suffering and struggles. We are all one.

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About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.