Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to surf the internet, walk outside the house or even turn on the television without being bombarded with ads, forceful evangelists and televangelists, random people in the street that either yell at you and call you extremist for not following their faith…or simply because you ACTUALLY follow a faith.
In 6 June 1999, I took a decision after seeing a friend of mine being ran over by a car, and being next to her on what were her last moments. Sara died later in the ambulance as she was transported to the hospital. We were both 8 years old. She was jewish, and all her life she had being taught to follow her faith and believe in God, practiced the Sabbath with her family and such, so when she was laying there in the concrete floor, she told me that she did not feared what would happen, that God has a plan for all of us. Despite everything, she was calm and serene when she died.
I was an atheist, and one of those which are considered “over gifted” by many and as such, discriminated in this country on which I have taken a forced residence back in 1995, having dedicated my life to purge all emotion from myself and to the pursue of knowledge.
At my 11th Birthday, after having being unfairly flunked at my 4th grade by a teacher which decided to punish me like that due to an alleged “misbehavior”, I decided to shift my search for knowledge to realize how Mankind had come into being, more concretely, how History became History, and what moved Men to attain great deeds. A 3 month stay at my grandparent’s home in Northwest Portugal, burthened with chores of a strong grown man over at my grandfather’s smith workshop, and doing most of the hard farm labor was enough time to meditate on such matters, having decided that a great deal of a culture/civilization’s essence is basically derivate from its religion. As such, I saw how my grandmother, which spent most of my childhood attempting at converting me to Christianity, was deeply catholic (to extreme levels) and was permanently angry, thinking that she could use me and my 7 year old sister as cheap labor force, paying us with the stay in a small bedroom and with often spoiled food.
Since then, I have followed several religions: Born an atheist, I was forced into Christianity, and then, almost as an act of revolt against my family’s rules, I became muslim. Sadly, I was very misinformed, since there wasen’t much information and I didn’t had any access to the internet. As such, I was ignorant and became extremist, but at a nonviolent way. Sadly, it was 2001, and after what happened in September, I ended by getting mercilessly beated until I renounced my faith and became an atheist again, and to a point, abandoning all of my research until 2007, when a great crisis hit my family with my parent’s unemployment, which somehow lead me to wicca, and later to Norse Paganism, and even Sikhism to a point. Later, in 2011, I reverted back to Christianity and got ordained an interfaith minister, having redeveloped a deep interest in Shia Islam, becoming a scholar of it and adopting most of the practices.
Over all this years, people’s intolerance sickens me.
Yesterday, a friend of mine blocked me over at deviantArt because I became Muslim. Then I find out that his ex-girlfriend, a girl I loved to talk to, blocked me as well.
Religious Intolerance is everywhere because people hate each other. Extremism comes from hatred and ignorance, and people make their lives miserable because they hold on keeping themselves ignorant and not think for themselves. “Ignorance is bliss” they claim, but in fact “Ignorance is Darkness” and this sort of darkness is not the good type of Darkness, which is the sort of darkness that eases one to sleep.
I decided to writte this things because I thought I could, with my experience, help changing the world. What everyone needs to keep, in relation to other religions is RESPECT.
A Muslim does not wants to blow you up without cause. Missguided Extremists do. If one reads the Holy Quran, Surat 5:32, it is said “Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with clear proofs, evidences, and signs, even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits (e.g. by doing oppression unjustly and exceeding beyond the limits set by Allah by committing the major sins) in the land!.”(Translation by Muhsin Khan)
One does not reaches Heaven by blowing himself up. He reaches Heaven by pious deeds, reciting the Quran and being a good person.
A Hindu does not reaches Moxcha by destroying other places of cult, injuring/killing people of other faiths just because they can.
A Christian, in the days of Pope John Paul II, was recommended to show tolerance for that was the way to Heaven……
Respect, Tolerance, Understanding.
Those are the tenants that rule religious tolerance and which everyone should follow. Only like that Mankind can set aside it’s differences and work toguether for it’s advancement.
Mankind still has much to learn. Tolerance is part of Balance, and Balance is the key to live a long, and happy life.