by Marlena Chertock
“Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don’t throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you want, but other people’s beliefs are not your concern … let people have their beliefs.” It was Wafa Sultan, a 47-year-old psychiatrist who moved from Syria to Southern California, who explained this in a heated debate on al-Jazeera. The al-Jazeera journalist wanted to silence her and all other opinions. Sultan spoke of a huge problem that remains with us today.
Some people are so quick to flourish their own religion and reject others. The whole religion debate is inane. For all we know, the other religion got it right. For all we know, religion is all a farce, just a myth or stories used to explain to us why we’re here, how we should live, how we should get into that magical afterlife, how we should be absolved of sin and how we should think, because this confusing world can get to be too much.
I need to be shown all the religions before I know what I want to follow, before I know what resonates with me. I need to be presented and introduced to all the ideas out there, all the thoughts, all the perspectives, all the philosophies before I decide what I believe. And I think this perpetual state of unknowingness is quite alright. I don’t want to be completely for or against one side … I may have overlooked a very valid opinion. I don’t want to say, “I know this. For sure.” I’m not sure. I find it hard to participate in debates and Socratic Seminars because I am not sure of what I believe. I may believe a mixture, I may agree with both sides, I may like the sound of something from one side and another thing from the other. I don’t know all that’s out there—I don’t know everything. So how can I make a decisive opinion one way or another?
We should stop arguing over religions, they are just belief systems—they should not rule the world. So you believe that, she believes this; let me believe whatever I want to. It doesn’t matter what others believe, as Sultan said, it should not be of concern to others.
Besides, “Belief is when someone else does the thinking,” Buckminster Fuller said. It is more important to decide on your own what you think, what you believe. But respect others enough to let them believe in what they wish to.
Way back when, humans fabricated stories to explain the ways of the world and why things occur—they created myths. And these religions sprouted from them. So how do you know your religion is right, your neighbors’ wrong? How do I know they’re not just all myths all along? How do I know whether or not they have real substance or if they’re just stories we’ve created. No one can tell me.
It’s all just supposition.