Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Change In Perspective

Our world is filled with suffering. Children who have yet to experience the wonders of life die before they ever get a chance. Billions of people live below the poverty line and struggle just to put food on the table. Many people look outside the world to explain the hardships of everyday life. They find comfort in believing that there is some force at work, such as a God or many gods. In the article “There Is No God,” author Penn Jillette challenges the structure of all religions throughout the world. He uses logos effectively to provide structure for his argument. However his article is offensive and counterproductive for the goal he is trying to reach. 

Jillette’s writing has good intentions. In the fourth paragraph of the article, he explains how his belief that there is no higher power is freeing. He explains the joy he finds in everyday life, and creates the false impression that his enjoyment of the simple things comes from his disbelief. He claims that the ending of religious arguments would lead to a world of progress. On this point Jillette is right. 

The problem with his precarious vision lies in the process of ending religious arguments. It is true that if no one believed in God or followed a religion, the disagreement would end. However this will never happen, and it is not right to tell others how they should believe. Ending religion is not a reasonable goal. The solution to the petty religious mind wars that hold society back is a completely different way of thinking.

Instead of everyone being taught there is no god, people should be taught certain values. If the citizens of this world were to learn acceptance, not only would religious struggle end but a new era free of hate would begin to emerge. The problem is not with religion itself, but with the blind hate of others’ beliefs. The “I’m right, you’re wrong” approach to religious debate is downright silly, and the disregard of other’s opinions so common in this world is absolutely wrong. If believers were to understand and accept non believers and followers of other religions, there would be no more fights to hold us back from progress. 

Christians are taught to spread the "good news". Many of them impose their beliefs and values on others and cause the religious debates. Many Muslims are taught non believers are evil, and some are taught to kill. Many Atheists (such as Jillete) claim religion is a disease and it must end. It is not one group or religion that is causing our struggles, but it is society as a whole. 

So many people are absolutely convinced they are right about their beliefs. If their beliefs tell them that they must not tolerate certain activities or certain groups of people, they do it. They refuse to associate with believers of other religions, and this has always and will always hold our society back. In order to move forward smoothly, people have to learn acceptance.

If individually we can learn to tolerate other beliefs, society as a whole will grow. Our ignorance of others cultures and religions needs to change. Many individuals fear difference and ideas that they don’t understand. But just because someone believes and acts differently than you does not make them a bad person. People crave the comfort of friends who believe similarly to them and fail to expand their view of the world. How can we expect to move forward if so many different groups within our society disrespect, hate, and fear each other? 

How can we go about this change? It has become ridiculously commonplace to fear difference, and a change in society’s perception will be difficult to accomplish. When the United States government and media promotes fear of Islam, the road to change looks bleak. A tired cliche rings true in this situation. In order for change to occur, society must realize its dire need for change. Unwilling and indifferent hearts will never realize they have a problem. Many people are way to stuck in their hate to ever find a new perspective. Thankfully, the future of our world is not in the hands of the old and stubborn. 

Jillette’s suggestion of no one believing in God is impractical, and immoral. It should never be acceptable to force non belief. However the children of this country could be taught religious tolerance at a young age. Instead of electives many high schoolers aren’t interested in anyway, maybe a class on religious and cultural tolerance could be offered instead. If schools make time to teach subjects that many students never use again throughout their life, why not teach something everyone can use daily for the rest of their life? 

Teaching religious tolerance in school is a simple idea that would be complicated to see happen. Without the realization of the need for change, people will not accept the change. In order to gain momentum for this idea, the idea needs to be explained and spread. Books, articles, songs and support from people in power could help the cause. It’s a fairly extreme idea and could take a long time to gain support. However the benefits our world would see from this acceptance are well worth the wait No one enjoys to be ridiculed for their beliefs. Many original settlers of the colonies left their countries to escape religious persecution. The United States supports freedom of religion. Technically people of this nation can believe what they want and not face persecution from the government. This is no longer the problem our society faces. We persecute each other. Jillette’s idea of one belief is flawed and could never take hold. If society is to progress smoothly and suffering in our world to end, people must learn to accept each other. Our ignorance and intolerance of difference is holding us back and causing pain to many. We must accept others’ beliefs, accept their lifestyles, and respect them as human beings. The world could become a safer better place.

Jillette, Penn. "There Is No God." NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2013