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The Utopian Dream
|by Anmol Chowdhry|
The similarities among the sub-divisions of religions are easy to see. For example between the Catholic and Protestant faiths. There are so many similarities between such sub-divisions of religions that it might be easier for one to just list the differences. Some similarities include praying in the same manner and language, praying in virtually the same setting or place of worship, celebrating the same holidays and even praying to the same god. One may feel that these similarities only exist among sub-divisions of religions, however some similarities among totally different religions are pretty obvious as well. For example, most religions pray to one god, they have one book of worship, they celebrate holidays (sometimes for the same reason and the same time) and most religions have some sort of a period where the worshipers punish themselves in return for forgiveness from sins.
A rhetorical question arises then: If so many similarities exist, why cannot sub-divisions among religions ' if not all religions across the board ' break down the barriers that exist among them and become one? I have attempted to answer this question and also tried to show the positive and negative effects of the unification of religions.
The positive effects of the unification of religious sub-divisions and all religions overall are pretty clear and obvious. One of the most beneficial and obvious effects would be the unity among people who share the same religion. The bond among all Muslims or among all Protestants is apparent, the same way if, for example, Protestants and Catholics were to end their quarrels and settle their differences from about 500 years back, they too could share a strong bond. The bond I speak of is the sense of belonging and brother hood that all Muslims share amongst themselves. The same would be true if all Christians, Jews and Muslims would unite together and settle their differences and become united.
These last two statements bring a somewhat saddening and interesting point. As we know, these three religions, the Muslim, Christian and Jew faith, at one time in Spain dwelled together without problems or conflict. Further the beliefs that these religions are based on are virtually the same. It is so sad to see that many religious conflicts that exists today are not because of some recent events, but are results of disharmony that occurred centuries ago. Why when we live in a different era, facing different problems, do fanatics hold on to these conflicts and continue senseless battles over issues that are no longer relevant? If society overall would in a sense forgive and forget the happenings of the past, they could unite and join efforts in solving the more relevant issues and problems of the present. Unification of religions would also in a sense eliminate another reason for battle. If society can recognize and accept another faith for that matter another way of life, at least we don't have to worry about religious fanatics waging wars by exploiting the word of religion. I also feel that with unification of religions there would be a sense of brotherhood created among all men, again reducing the chance of conflicts spurred by the word religion.
However if one looks at all possible results of this unification there are some very disastrous effects that are possible. These effects, could in fact worsen the state of society instead of helping it. To understand these points we must first examine one of the main reasons as to why we have sub-divisions and overall distinct religions. One must not be na've and think of religion as merely a faith that is practiced by its followers. It is obvious that society and even the environment, in which one dwells affect the way one lives, even further it affects the religion one practices.
Take for example a society in a desert where water is very scarce and at the same time consider a society that dwells in a tropic setting where water is plentiful. Now for the sake of argument if a religious practice calls for the pouring of water on idols, obviously the society that exists in the desert will have a tough time to do this. Therefore it is important to note that society and the environment in which one lives have a great affect on religion therefore sometimes making it impossible for a society to practice certain rituals because of constraints. Keeping this in mind I feel that societies in confining to their environments have adapted religious rituals, further changed religions overall to fit their resources. This is one difficulty I see in unifying religions and their sub-divisions, which initially may have been created to adapt to environmental and social constraints.
As we see even today there are many conflicts among believers of the same faith, especially evident among Muslims. One sector of the faith sometimes feels that the tradition is being practiced in too rigid a manner while another might feel that it is being practiced too loosely. This reason for conflict will become more of a problem if the unification of all religions and their sub-divisions occurs. Another problem I see in the unification of all religions is the possible loss of the identity, which one may have because of his/her religion and further how he/she practices.
The main reason for the sub-division among religions and for that matter the creation of two different religions, doesn't all depend on the beliefs of the different faiths, but as stated earlier also depends on society and the constraints of environments in which one dwells. Therefore I feel that religion cant be just seen as practice of certain rituals and beliefs, but religion has a lot to do with many factors including the society, time and environment in which one lives in.
Taking this into consideration I feel it is realistically impossible for this utopian dream of the unification of religions. In order to achieve this we need to first change our views. If one remains narrow-minded, ignorant and intolerant of others this dream is impossible. We need to be able to accept others and realize that practices of all other faiths are equal to ours no matter how odd they may seem to us. We must be able to give just as much importance to other as we give to our beliefs and ourselves. Further I think religion should not be exploited and used for material gain. t is always sad to see one bring the word of religion in battles where it doesn't belong, such as politics. Even more I am saddened by people who hold on to conflicts that occurred centuries ago to use as a scapegoat to be intolerant towards others.
If all these ills of society can be resolved, would we really need a unification of religions? By correcting ourselves have we not achieved the utopian dream without having to actually achieve it? I feel that it is important we have these distinctions in religions because that is what makes us unique and special in our way. However before we conclude that it is our right to practice our religion we need to acknowledge first that it the right of others to practice their own religions.
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