How To Live Harmoniously With People Of Different Beliefs
The world is not at peace
How to live harmoniously with people of different beliefs, when the world is not at peace.
Humans have been fighting one another since time immemorial. This is the greatest curse of mankind. Nations fight against nations. Wars result out of racial hatred. Religious intolerance breeds clashes. We can still narrow down to seemingly trivial differences such as different sects within the same religion, different dialect groups within the same community. All fight. Narrow down further, neighboring villages fight one another, and if that is not near enough, neighbors fight against neighbors. Within the same extended family, relatives bicker against one another. And we come to the core unit of human civilization; the family unit. Brothers, sisters, father, mother, grandparents, and what have you. Misunderstanding, intolerance, disrespect, aversion, jealousy and dissatisfaction. The world is in a crazy mess.
Sorry for such an awful introduction. The topic of this article is not trying to identify the causes of our human problem, but rather on the more positive aspect of how to live harmoniously with people of different beliefs. Different beliefs encompass more than religious beliefs. “Different beliefs” means “differing sets of ideas that are opposing to one another”. For the purpose of this article let’s focus on “differing religious beliefs”. I like to share with you my own personal experience on how to live harmoniously with people of different beliefs, more specifically as in my case, with members of my extended family.
Case study #1 : How to live harmoniously with people of different beliefs
Let me start with this member of the family. I shall not mention the exact relationship of my family members, as I have not told them about my intention to write this article. If you read carefully you will be able to know the relationship.
She is a devout Buddhist. This man eyeing her is a devout Catholic. So she told him point blank that this relationship would not work, and he might as well forget about this big idea of a permanent relationship. This man has the gift of the gap, and true to his persistent salesmanship, he put forward his “irresistible greatest free gift” and said to her, “That is not a problem, dear. Maybe you can convince me with your belief, and I may change my religion!”
She was offended, “I have no intention nor wish to influence you on my belief. You can continue to believe in whatever you wish. Just leave me alone, and now please get lost!”
Being the greatest salesman on earth, this man did not “get lost” but made his sales!
To cut the story short; and they “live happily ever after”! It’s been more than 20 years now that they have been happily married. And no, he did not become a Buddhist, neither she a Catholic. Both also did not discard their respective religions. He remains a devout Catholic, and she remains a devout Buddhist. How could this come about? The answer is in this magic phrase : “respect for others’ beliefs”. That simple. He respects her belief without any condition. Likewise she respects his belief without any condition. “Respect” would mean that no one belittles the other’s belief. In very simple language, “live and let live”.
Case study #2 : How to live harmoniously with people of different beliefs
Three sisters, three husbands. Three Catholics and three Buddhists. Should they talk about religion? No one here is interested about religion when all six meet. We have better things to talk about. We? Yes, I am one of the six. By the way, I am a Buddhist. We respect one another’s belief. That is good enough. Sometimes on special occasions we would attend their Church functions, and sometimes they would attend our temple functions. When they pray we keep quiet. And when we recite in our own way (Buddhists actually don’t pray), they likewise keep quiet. We are very close to one another because the three sisters are very close. We enjoy each other’s company. We got so much to talk about on other subjects that we don’t indulge in talking about our different beliefs. What is the secret that we can live harmoniously with people of different beliefs? Respect. Yes, live and let live.
Case study #3 : How to live harmoniously with people of different beliefs
How about when your children are married into a different religion? Are you “magnanimous” enough to turn the other way? Not many will be able to do that. This is a very sensitive situation. At the very extreme end, it may even cost lives. I can live with this. So I don’t have any problem. I am talking about my own experience. You can choose which way you want to go.
When all hell will break loose
When no one is interested to influence others of one’s belief, there is no problem. When no one is arrogant to regard one’s belief as superior than the others, there is no problem. When no one is intolerant of others’ beliefs, then no problem.
All hell will break loose when someone is arrogant, intolerant, disrespectful, and inconsiderate. Which way would you choose?
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