Religions - A Work in Progress

The world's religions - the many schools of thought and spiritual practices. With each in their own special way, contributing to the evolution of the human consciousness and in the shaping of the world as we know it today. Many major religions share a common origin and similarities. Each provides its practitioners with a moral and ethical code to follow. Each promotes self-purification and right association, individual and community well-being. Each in its own right attempts to address the fundamental questions pertaining to the meaning and purpose of one's life, one's place in the universe, the reconciliation of endings and new beginnings, and the interconnection of it all. A religion can be likened to a tool. Used incorrectly and in the hands of an ignorant and inmoral person it can create havoc and destruction. Used correctly and in the hands of an intelligent and moral person it can benefit mankind.

It is important to differentiate spirituality from religion. Spirituality is a pure and egoless life-sustaining energy. This molding and moving force resides, great or small, within us all. And without it we would die. There is in truth, as many spiritualities as there are people. In contrast, a religion is a contrived-manifestation; reflecting the times of its well-meaning founders and entailing to a  degree their imperfections, shortcomings, and limitations. No one religion has a monopoly on spirituality. And just as there is the ongoing need for an individual to apply himself or herself to remedy the defects of their character, the same is true for a religion. Change or fade, grow or perish, a religion if it wishes to endear and endure needs to be viewed as a living process, awake and alive, progressive and relevant, and receptive to ongoing discoveries and revelations.

Each major religion is a - work in progress - rediscovering itself in both old and new expressions, be it reformist (visionaries), conservatists (moderates), or orthodox (traditionalists). Placing them on a left-to-right spectrum, we begin with the reformist believers, who are known for embracing new discoveries and revelations. Who take a progressive approach, realign and redefine themselves with the realities of a changing world. Act as ambassadors of goodwill intergrading into mainstream society. Center, are situated the conservative believers, who acknowledge the need for some change, and keep pace with a changing society while honoring fundamental doctrines pertaining to their faith. On the far right are the orthodox believers, who unlike reformist or conservatives, take a historic-fundamentalist approach and resist change. Reason and intellect fall victim to dogma and indoctrination. Dissent is not tolerated and members not towing the line results in expulsion, some tragically brutalized or murdered. The price for not changing often comes in the form of a declining membership, as good people become disillusioned and leave. The remaining core group at its worst becomes a patriarchal cult (group hubris), with mindless rhetoric and rants becoming the norm.

Throughout recorded history, every major religion has been responsible for unspeakable cruelty and violence, innumerable bloody conflicts, atrocities, wars, as well as the degrading and abuse of women and children, and the violation of human rights. Modern day religious groups do not teach their members this, academic universities do. One just needs to read their daily national newspaper to learn the latest autrocity. Every generation is given the task and responsibility in addressing this ignorance and dark-heartlessness. This has been and will continue to be accomplished by exposing, bringing to light - that - which needs to be. For one to stand and speak their mind against the status quo requires courage, and as history has often shown at the peril of one's life. (Malala Yousafzai )

The international community needs to hold accountable those who cloak themselves in religion and who in its name perpetuate or abet in psychopathic conduct. By choosing to act out their evil thoughts psychopaths create havoc, and not only degrade themselves; but also, as well their professed religion. Psychopaths relish in seeing others suffer. They are not hard to spot, being fanatic and rigid in their thinking, power-mongering, scapegoating, demonizing and victimizing. As long as they remain unchecked and go unpunished, their dark-hearted psychopathic behavior only continues. It is critical that these people know that the - eyes of the world - are on them. An even greater crime occurs when the international community turns a blind eye or become intransigent spectators. The United Nations needs to take more responsibility in apprehending and bringing these egomaniacs to justice. As individuals we can play a major role by challenging those we meet in our daily lives who harbor bigotry, racism, and prejudicde. By staying silent we only consent.

May the leaders and members of all religions step forward, direct their energies with intelligence, end the age-old rifts between them, and begin to connect being-to-being. May they keep their - faith - in historic context and meaningful perspective. May they come together in a spirit of cooperation to peacefully resolve issues, address the previous generation's unfinished business, and reconcile the old with the new. May they free themselvesf from avoidance, denial, and outdated thinking. Free its members from having to live with a distorted reality or with compromised personal integrities. May they use their collective power, influence and wisdom, and move in a positive direction. Honor their founders, follow and build on their genius/brilliance and attend to issues that need to be set right by taking decisive action with reform. We today, view them as founders; but they in there time, saw themselves as reformers. Bringing to the religion of their day a new way of being and thinking.

May we all be equally valued and united in our humanity. The security, the welfare, and the advancement of all civilization depends on this. Whether as individuals, a society, or a religion, we are either moving forward or backwards. Those who have developed a global consciousness know that what happens to one person in our community affects us all. And too, what happens to a person in a far-away country also affects us all.

With the advancement of technology and with a greater educated world population, more than at any time in human history, has mankind developed and embraced a global consciousness. With an ever-growing world population competing for diminishing resources, the negative consequences of a changing climate and the resulting migration, we need, being secular or religious, to learn to live in peace. The power to transform and transcend is within us, as individuals, as a society, or as a religion. In the same way we today can view the face of religion as it was a thousand years ago, how I wonder will today's face be viewed by those living a thousand years from now. This much I do know, even then it will still be a work-in-progress.

Timothy E. Stevenson March 11, 2004

*Note from author:

The above was written while I was working through a severe head-concussion. The third I've experienced over the 35 years I've been in a wheelchair. Writing allowed me to work it through the fog/confusion. Each day I would go to our local coffee shop. Read the many newspaper editorials. I cut many of them out to provide bookmark/references. I lost the envelope containg them. (or cannot remember where I placed it.) Many of the above insights were provided by these editorial authors. When I can afford it, I will hire researchers to provide the necessary credit and references. In writing this piece/editorial I took an eclectic approach using and taking ideas from many of our city newspapers. To this day I'm still editing and revising. To print to one page, right-click on mouse, select "Print Preview," Select 85%... then print.  

*If you know anyone that has experienced a head concussion, suggest to them to take two fish capsuls of omega 3-6-9 per day (morning and night). Upon taking, I noticed cognitive improvement within a week. I now have an ant-tip bar on the back of my wheelchair.

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