I took a Black Studies class in high school. One of the things I learned there was the notion that Sunday Morning was one of the most racially segregated days of the week in America.
I learned a lot of things in that class, but that is the one thing that has stayed with me over the years. At first I begged to differ, because my own Quaker Meeting was very racially diverse. I then came to realize as we visited other congregations of different denominations, that our diversity was the anomaly and not the norm.
One the main tenets of Quakerism is Religious Tolerance. Because of that we were introduced to many other faiths, and many of the different sects within Christianity as well in the course of our First Day School (Sunday School) lessons.
I wonder today, in my weekly Sunday Thoughts post if that same thing is happening right now across America. I became a Buddhist at the age of sixteen, and I am now in my mid-forties. Like many in America who find their Path in “Eastern Religions”, I was born into and raised in the Christian faith.
Because of my early religious background, I can comfortably say, I know more about the different Christian sects, and more about the other faiths practiced in this nation than the average person walking down the street. My own studies and religious explorations as a teen notwithstanding. I also continued and still try to continue to study those things in more recent years.
There are also very many sects within Buddhism, and I have explored some of those as well. Interestingly enough, on the day I decided to formally change my religion, I happened to be sitting in the barbershop chair (getting my TWA fade did) right next to a Buddhist who was getting his own afro shaped. Sometimes Fate is right on time. I never looked back. And also of interest, that local congregation, like my former Quaker one, and unlike so many in the same area was very racially diverse.
Sometimes congregations can’t help it, or really have no choice in the matter, their places of worship being in areas of the country that are heavily once race or another. But when there is a diverse community, and there is still racial separation on Sunday Morning, it becomes food for thought.
About three years or so ago, the Dalai Lama said that the key to World Peace lies in the world coming together in the secular. Recently he touched upon the same concept in his talk at Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts, further fleshing out the idea of “secular ethics” and how it pertains to Global Health.
After receiving clarification on the connotation of the word ‘”secular” from English economist Lord Richard Layard, the Dalai Lama said the word is not “anti-religion.” He concluded that if people, from kindergarten to the university, are educated and trained in “secular ethics,” widespread happiness can be achieved.
Layard, who said the Dalai Lama’s words had previously inspired him, cited the idea of secularism in naming the two fundamental aspects necessary for a more peaceful world.
“There basically are two facts that we need to bring together: Everybody would like to be happy, and, two, each human being is equally important,” Layard said. “And if we can get everybody to accept that secular ‘every human being is important’ then we can try and create as much happiness in the world that we can. And we have to get to that point without mentioning the deity. That is what is essential to the secular morality.”
According to the Dalai Lama, the only path to instilling such “secular morality” is through education and the training of the human mind.
I find that concept both encouraging and mind-boggling. But I see the wisdom and the truth of it. If you just sit down and contemplate over the past sweep of human history, how much of our strife and conflict has been (and still is, actually) based on, because of and/or in the name of religion? If we can evolve past that, and meet together in a mode that is human being to human being, person to person – how much then might be accomplished?
These are things we must think about deeply, and things that need to be thought about, because we are coming to, and passing major crossroads that might lead us in the direction of our own extinction. The dichotomy of myself is that half the time I say to heck with it, this planet would be much better off without us crawling around on it and the other half of the time I’m fighting tooth and nail for us to find our place so that we can co-exist with not only ourselves but the other living creatures that exist here as well.
Either way, it is folly to continue to think of ourselves as the be all end all the Masters of all we survey. That we are the pinnacle and the End Result and my aren’t we just fine and dandy? Because the reality of the situation is acutely dire.
We are the only living things on this Earth that actively live in contrary to our own survival.
I suggest reading Ishmael: An Adventure of Mind and Spirit to really get to understand what it is we have done, and were we are headed if we don’t start making some very key changes. I suggest you get more than one copy, as you will want to give this book to everyone you know, while keeping a copy for yourself to devour and re-read over and over.
Also of great need is for each and every one of us to become more knowledgeable about the history of our own nation. To study the documents that gave birth to our nation and know what they say, and study what they mean.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….”
You can explore further from that First Amendment link at your leisure, but I think they were onto something there. I also think that many have forgotten the spirit of our founding documents, and the very real and concrete reasons why they are the way they are, and why they say the things they do.
They are at the very core of who and what we are as America and Americans. Too many times that spirit has been usurped, bastardized and twisted to conform to many current day agendas. Think about why colonies were established in “the new world” in the first place. Think about those people who chose to leave the comfort and safety of their current countries and strike out into the unknown. Think about why those colonists rebelled, and why so many flocked to and continue to flock to these shores.
Think about all of those things, and if you are unaware of why, or don’t know the reasons for, or have a vague notion of – go find out the truth for yourself. Also find and know the truth of what colonizing entails, and the effects that had on the indigenous Americans. The people who were already existing in these lands, who already had civilization, and government and Way Of Life before any Europeans stepped foot on this country.
Know the true and real history of your nation. Know that it has not always been so glowing and wonderful. Know that our strength and power and wealth was built solidly on the backs and with the blood of slaves. Know about the appropriation of land and territories from indigenous people of this country, and know about the exploitation of immigrants. We are a nation of immigrants. Know all that and more and understand how we came to be, and then you will understand how and where we should be heading in the future. So mistakes of the past will not be made. So people in power will not be able to confuse you, because you know your history, know your documents, know the Truth.
We may be still so racially separated on this day of the week, but perhaps we are not spiritually separated each weekend. Perhaps we each pray that we will survive, that we will make it to our future. Perhaps one day very soon, as we all grow in our knowledge, we will truly strip away the lies, the deceit, the extraneous – and see the everything for what it is.
World peace starts at home.
Secular globalism starts at home.
Separation of church and state.
The coming together of human beings to save ourselves from ourselves.