Big shoes to fill or just find a better fit
I got thinking a lot after I saw this pop up on Facebook.
As long as human beings have been conscious of their own existence in the universe there has been wonderment about the meaning of life and the place we have in it. There are traditions, rituals and beliefs that stretch back to the ‘dawn’ of our species. Indeed, how our collective ‘sun came up’ is one of the most contested and debated ideas of all time. Religion has been around longer than science (I think), but for its short time in our cultural landscape, science has weighed in just as much into the debate and for some it has turned into arguing two sides ‘evolution vrs creation’.
But we cannot ignore the fact that a very large percentage of the worlds population follows one form of religion or another. I did a quick google search (as you do) and was pretty amazed at the incredibly diverse faiths, traditions, beliefs and religions of the world. Some have emerged in more recent times to dominate in terms of numbers of followers but within Christianity alone there are so many denominations it kind of makes my head spin. I suppose one of the things that really interests me is the way cultures shift and change through migration and colonisation, especially for indigenous cultures.
I was watching Avatar recently (for about the 10th time) and aside from the futuristic offworld giant blue people and crazy scary flora and fauna, the parallels of one group trying to impose its beliefs and values on another are pretty clear. There is a pattern we shouldn’t ignore or be afraid to examine because it might help us understand and possibly reclaim some different ways of relating to nature and each other.
I’m a bit wary of religion – particularly those forms and practices that promote hate, exclusion and fear of others. It’s not ever been a shoe that has fitted all that well for me. I get awfully confused at the rules and contradictions of religion but respect those who find their faith connects them with God and people in ways that are meaningful.
So can you be a person of good character with strong morals, values and ethics without religion? Are there other ways we might ‘know God’ outside of religion? I don’t have an answer, just lots of questions.
Maybe my immersion in science fiction from a young age has influenced me. I remember watching Star Wars when I was 5 and being taken in by the idea of The Force. Yoda was my mentor in some way – and maybe – secretly I want to be a Jedi. But really what did it mean to be a Jedi? It meant coming to an understanding of fear and the power that connects and binds us all is neutral, but that how we channel, interpret and respond determines whether we come out on the ‘dark’ or ‘light’ side. Being a movie, it’s open to interpretation.
In terms of any form of spirituality or belief system, this fits for me. But I’m not sure how I might go with a light sabre.