This group is usually just as vocal in their beliefs as their counterparts within religion. Neither group cares about personal feelings, personal notions of self-worth, or the very personal journeys of others. Both groups care about only one thing. Being right. And they’ll both make happiness close to impossible for those who surround them (I’ll be writing more about that soon).
You see, members of this group, both inside and outside of religion, don’t understand that happiness will only ever exist in a place where one is being true to his own beliefs. Happiness cannot occur in a place where beliefs are forced or manipulated onto others.
And so, looking at all these dynamics, I think we learn something greater about human beings in general. We learn that there aren’t actually two kinds of people inside of religion and two kinds of people outside of religion.
There are just two kinds of people.
Religion (or lack thereof) just gives one of those kinds of people the perfect tool to feel better about themselves by feeling better than or superior to others. It’s that simple.
The truth is, there are a lot of good religions that teach beautiful things.
There are a lot of people who either need to have a religion or prefer having a religion to help them in their own pursuit of spirituality and self-improvement.
There are people who truly would be lost without religion. There are people who would struggle morally. There are people who would lose sight of many of the important things of life.
The other truth is that most (if not all) religions offer the perfect breeding ground for those in the second group. They offer them an environment where they can thrive. They offer them the platform they need to really feel that they are better than others.
And, there are a lot of people who, because of that, or because the teachings of religions will never make sense, will never be happy as part of an organized religion. Their own quest for spirituality is actually hurt, not helped, when forced or coerced into a religion. They are lost inside of religion. They struggle with self-worth and self-perception. They lose sight of many of the important things of life.
So why can’t we all wrap our minds around that already? Why can’t we understand that everybody must walk a path of integrity that is true to them? Why can’t we be okay with that?
Why is there such a need for some people to be able to say, “I’m right, and you’re wrong.”
Why is there such a need for some people to be able to say, “there is only one truth, and I have it.”
Why can’t we simply celebrate each other, our different beliefs, and our own progression?
Why do we feel threatened when others who are good or decent people have different beliefs than we do?
Why do we feel a need to make sure the people we love know how much we disapprove of their beliefs?
Why do we feel like we have to know the truth, we have to have the only truth, and we have to make sure everybody else believes our truth as well?
Why do we drive wedges into our family relationships to prove that we are right in what we believe?
Why do we call others stupid, naïve, or gullible if they believe different things than we do?
Where, along the way, did so many of us forget the very basic teachings of all of our religions?
Where did we forget love?
How did we forget love?
And what changes can we all make whether we are in a religion or out of one?
It doesn’t matter to me what religion you are a part of. It does not matter to me if you are in a religion or not. And it shouldn’t matter to anybody else.
If you look at the two groups above, you will notice a colossal difference. Members of the first group work on bettering themselves. Members of the second group work on “bettering” others. They lose sight of themselves. They hurt others in the process.
And at the end of the day, the incredible irony will always sing true. Those in the first group will get to love others in ways that those in the second group will never understand.
By focusing on bettering themselves, real love for others happens… naturally.
No, it doesn’t matter to me what you believe or how you live.
What matters to me is why you do it and how you do it. Nothing else.
So do it for the right reasons and do it the right way. Please.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. I write this from the perspective of a man who has spent plenty of time in “both groups.” Where are you in regards to this discussion? Have you also been a part of both groups? How have any of these dynamics affected you and the people you love?
This is the eleventh post of The Happiness Dynamic Series. A little while back, I published Whose Life is it Anyway which sparked a much greater multi-day discussion of happiness here on Single Dad Laughing. To view all the posts in this series, click here.