Let's Talk About It
If you asked a person 20 to 30 years ago about what the greatest obstacle to world peace was, you would most definitely get political ideology for an answer. After all, it was during the middle of the Cold War. However, if you asked the same question now, you'd get a completely different answer. It would most probably be religious exclusivity. Why?
Most notably, what divides and separates communities, even more than baseline traditional values, is a community's fundamental belief systems and answers to the big questions of life. When communities clash on their views of the meaning of life and how it should be lived, there is natural friction and conflict.
The United States, a country of many differing communities and belief systems, encounters an intense level of conflict daily from the force of these communities and belief systems colliding with each other at high speeds. The war on "terrorism", same-sex marriage policy, neglected and segregated ghettoes and environmental policy are some of the examples of conflict nationally, but conflict also occurs personally. Because people from different communities participate and engage in the weaving of our societies baseline culture, there are a lot of tangles and places where people get marginalize and disrespected.
In the regards to religion, some have suggested that when religions claim to have the absolute truth and meaning of life, these communities engage in the marginalization of people that do not live in accordance with their understanding of reality. They do not grant them equal citizenship like people of their own communities and hence treat them as second-class citizens. They say we have to realize that all we need is to be able to find what is true for each other individually and we need to accept others view of reality as equally valid and plausible alternatives to happiness in this life. Hence, we should keep religion in the private sector, and only focus on the pragmatic and what will help bring the flourishing of our society.
The conflict and marginalization of certain communities under the imperialistic tyranny of other power tripping communities is real and should be taken seriously, but it is not the result of absolute truth claims. Absolute truth claims are, and will be, used as weapons for the subjugation of other people, but condemning all of them as sole sources of power grabs is a sad mistake. We all hold truth claims that we believe to be based on our reality. We should not go around parading that "nothing is true" is the truth, and tell people they have to convert to this view of truth. This is being intellectually imperialistic. A civil democratic society can engage in healthy discourse without the disparagement of truth. We can talk together about what we believe and try to understand each other. To say "leave your religion at the door" in the public square, is to say leave yourself at the door and accept my view of what is important.
I think truth is important. Let's talk about it.
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