Can Faith Unite The World?

It is an interesting question. And when you listen to those with faith, it almost seems to be a redundant question in their minds.

So what prompted me to ask this question today?

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am not a believer. I have tried. There have been times I wanted that comfort. I see how it helps people some of the time. To be able to put your hands up and give it over to God seems like a wonderful thing at times. And I am not going to argue what that really means here. Let’s just say I understand why people want and need the comfort of faith. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

My wife is faithful. She is not insane. She does not think the Bible is the inerrant word written by God himself. She does not believe churches and clergy are above us all in the grand scheme of things. The world IS millions of years old. She just believes in that higher power. And that’s great. I fully support her in that.

So we went to church for the first time in a very long time yesterday and the youth pastor was speaking about teenagers and how society has changed. It was an interesting journey across the ages from a time of villages raising their young together to youth raising themselves today. The gist of the sermon was that we need to provide adult support both in and out of the home.

Now there is no doubt that some churches do a marvelous job at community. The one we attend is one of them. They do local and international mission trips. There are always opportunities to give both financially and volunteering. If you can find a way to ask for help, you will get help. I know. When we went through a bankruptcy a few years back, the church helped us out in numerous ways.

So my answer must be yes, faith can unite the world. Right?

I’m sure you likely knew before I got here that my answer would not be that.

I’m not saying good isn’t done. I’m not saying church communities aren’t supportive whether within or without the faith fold. The ‘it takes a village’ mantra is the truth. The youth pastor was, naturally, focused on internal ‘small groups’ which focus on faith and community. And to take this concept provincially, countrywide or globally becomes something more of an issue.

I am sure I’ve said this all before but it does bear repeating. You will never have a global faith-based community. there is simply no way that Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and whatever other religions, let alone atheists and agnostics are going to unite in faith. Faith in God that is. Without all of us converting to whatever said ‘one’ God is, there will never be consensus. Never be agreement. And we would be in an endless war to get there, never to be achieved. How many wars around whose God is the God, or more over, forcing you to become ‘one of us’ do we have to go through before we realize that we cannot be united in what we don’t believe.

I have no idea if mankind will ever come to some sort of elevated platform where we are all working together towards mankind’s goals. I do know it will be difficult. Doable but difficult. We would need to reach a point where education for all was consistent and available. Borders would need to be transparent so fighting over land was no more. World goals would be required so we didn’t focus on the minutiae as much. This will become more critical as our decaying planet becomes bloated with population and resources dwindle. Having to spread our wings beyond this planet may well put us on a common goal of survival.

This higher plane of existence, enlightenment will only be achievable as a species. If not, we will likely not last. As water becomes the final endangered species we will either step up or be snuffed out and forgotten in this vast cosmos. That may sound depressing but I believe it to be true. If we start running out of available fresh water as generations pass and population continues to accelerate, what will happen. Water is life. Period.

Can we get past our lifestyles of waste and neglect? Will we continue to let Conservatives (possible the most ironic name for a group of politicos there is) continue with an agenda of business at any cost? How many of you want these massive pipelines? How many think these jobs in the oil sands are too important to stop? Read this article and tell me again how that will never happen?

Do you believe water will not be sold to the highest bidder when supplies start to dwindle?

One thing is for sure. Praying isn’t going to solve this problem (ask Rick Perry). And I don’t say that as ridicule. If prayer clears your mind and allows you to see a path to a solution, that’s awesome! If prayer alleviates stress for you and helps you make it through the day, go for it. Same goes for meditation, exercise or whatever gets you to take that next step. But we, humanity, have to solve these problems. Together. And whatever belief system you have cannot get in the way of the greater community. It’s the same reason religion has no place in politics. You cannot govern for the whole if you believe part of the whole is more important.

Religion to a great extent and faith to some extent still separates, divides. Any group that thinks they just need to take care of like-minded people is doing the world a disservice. The community you care for has to be the entire community or you fail that community. Whether you do it as part of your faith or not is irrelevant. If we all helped take care of us all, the world is a better place and we’ve taken a step closer to a new plane of being. But I’m not stupid enough to believe all faith groups isolate within themselves any more than I believe that people without faith are automatically more generous and world orientated. The reality is that we as a society have been slowly dissolving the concept of community as a whole. And the lead into that is a combination of technology that is designed to isolate and a greedy and selfish power structure that requires us to work more for much less.

I don’t know too many people whose pay has gone up as fast as executives. And the reality is that most of us aren’t keeping up with the cost of inflation. I do believe there is a disaster unfolding and it scares me. Scares me for my kids and their kids when they come and your kids and the generations that follow.

A correction will come. Whether the top-heavy economy collapses under its own weight. Whether the abuse of this planet finally hits a tipping point where nature decides its had enough and starts fighting back even harder. Whether a civil war of the ‘haves’ versus the ‘have-nots’ happens. I don’t know what but I can feel it in my bones. I try not to dwell because it is depressing to think about. But if we all believed that something needed to be done. If we could Occupy Earth instead of Wall Street. If we thought past the end of the next ‘thing’ we buy from Apple. If we considered how the world works, together. If we started thinking a little harder about what is truly important. Without the burdens of politics, religion or borders. Maybe. Just maybe, we could make a little progress as a community.

There are only people in this world
They didn’t choose their skin
No prebirth choice of location
We’re not born with original sin

A lack of education
Can make it hard
To make the choice when grown
To look beyond and far

The worst of conditions
Will make it painful
To elevate your life
Above your own disdain

Commune
Will you?
The community of man
The community of all
Is it something you demand?
No worth in isolation
We need to be set free
We need to see all people
As a valued commodity
So set your sights out far
And set your mind to care
Ready sacrifice for good
Every woman, every man, everywhere

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2 Responses to Can Faith Unite The World?

  1. larrylootsteen says:

    Funny isn’t it? It is so easy to look at life in terms of our own little corner. And everything around us shoves into a corner and says ‘be scared, don’t go out’. Reality is that the things we should fear are the ones too many of listen to. Politicians. Stars. Controlled media. Even some faith leaders. Ironic how some of the most blistering hate in this world comes from people who claim faith.

    I appreciate where and who you are. All that you say makes perfect sense. I agree with that statement that faith is personal. Because it is. But you have the ability to see the whole world not just yours. And i admire you for it. Keep that faith that holds you and lifts you up.

    Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to share this. It means a lot that you did.

  2. Darrell Childress says:

    Yet another very insightful writing, Larry, and I think you hit on so many accurate points that the majority of people just don’t – and never will – get.
    One of the saddest things that is happening to our society is the constant bombardment of the “us vs them” mentality. Obviously, this is especially prevalent in today’s politics (particularly in the USA), and certainly propagated by the 24-hour “news” networks. We’re no longer just groups of people with differing opinions or philosophies, but everything is looked at in terms of win or lose, sometimes even presented as those in the other camp are our enemies. I have seen that mentality cross over into faith, and it continues to do so more and more.
    Faith, however, is more of a personal thing – at least to me it is. I’m not sure that it’s supposed to unite the world; it’s supposed to affect and change me in a personal way. One could argue (and rightfully so, I think) that it’s my faith that causes me to treat others the way that I do…and that is what would go more towards unity in this world. But I know that we can treat each other in a civil manner without having that same faith.
    I catch a lot of slack because of a lot of my beliefs from both sides. I am a man of great faith and God and the church are EXTREMELY important in my life, paramount even. I’m not just a Sunday morning church attendee, but I’m very active. But, I’m probably very much like your wife in her beliefs. I am a long-time member of Amnesty International (being a fellow U2 fan, I know you’re familiar with them). I wear a t-shirt sometimes that states “Citizen of the World”. Almost always, I get questioned about that from someone at church and was even told by the pastor that I shouldn’t feel that I’m a citizen of the world. It’s exactly that kind of divisiveness that is creating the separation and disservice to this world that you speak about.

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