Spirituality, regardless of each specific set of beliefs, has accompanied us on this planet for thousands of years. Most human beings, when faced with a difficult challenge, seek to channel positive energy towards a favourable outcome by invoking the heavens. We just seem so keen to believe that something or someone is up there, above us, looking out for us on this earth. As of 2005 - supposedly this is the most recent data – approximately 88 percent of the world’s population were said to “believe in God” (Cambridge University). In the United States, this same study showed 95 percent of the population responded affirmatively when asked this same question. The answer when broken down includes believing in a life force or energy that uses our output to shape the world we share. Could it be that the majority of the world’s population are on to something?
|Ana reconnecting with Mother Earth|
During my teen years in Peru – especially after my mother’s cancer – I reconciled my spirituality, returning on a regular basis to church. My particular fallout with the establishment was not related to child-abuse scandals or allegations, as I am quite certain clerics of any denomination have been guilty of this immoral behaviour at one point or another. This does not mean I condone this practice, but my brother and I had served our community as alter boys and survived to tell the story. This is why we do not scream bloody murder every time we are accused for being ambassadors of pedophilia. We know we are not. The truth is that sometimes the voices of the few protesters are louder than those of the devout. We have also seen this unfortunate contamination effect with Islam with the media powering a band wagon simply due to a minority of this religion distorting the overall powerful message of their God. In the Catholic faith, we are taught forgiveness, humility and responsibility toward our community, our brothers and sisters. We do not consider our brethren who are from different faiths to be the enemy, or that these individuals are destined to an eternal afterlife next to Lucifer himself in the fiery pits of hell. The times of the crusades are long gone.
Members of our affluent Lima neighbourhood of Chacarilla congregated for weekend mass in the Santa María school a few blocks from home. The Sunday service was curiously housed in the establishment’s basketball court, something that in my opinion lacked much seriousness. During this time, I was expecting the buzzer to go off or someone catapulting into the air to hammer-in a slam-dunk. However, a hefty native fellow belted out hymns on his classical guitar, meriting a technical foul. This was all fine and dandy in my books. It was just a fine example of doing whatever you could to welcome many guests, something any good human being would do. My beef was with the Churchgoers themselves. I remember walking home after a service when I noticed a wealthy local hop aboard his Mercedes Benz followed by his family mimicking every move. The car pulled out and totalled an ice-cream salesman’s bicycle. After receiving communion and the priest’s blessings, he responded to this at-fault accident by winding down his window to extend his middle finger to the poor self-employed guy on the pavement, covering him with a blanket of swear words I care not to repeat. Great example for his young kids sitting in the back seat, don’t you think?
What I soon realized is that being part of any religion is, in fact, belonging to an extended family - so much so, that you don’t know everyone personally. The family values imparted are the same, but the follow-through can leave much to be desired. You may not always agree with the people you have to sit with, or approve of their behaviour, but you pray for the greater good, hoping that those who stray away from the doctrine have a coming of age. Some people never do, which is unfortunate, but you cannot impose your will onto others. Do unto others as they’ve done to you is not part of this group’s ethos. Every person on this chunk of planet is conditioned by events they experienced, but religion gives us a certain framework as to how to improve humanity. These ideas are proposed and the priest tries to highlight them during his sermon. If those sitting in the pews decide to shut themselves down, refusing to take in any wisdom from their hour in church, is completely up to them. Like any service: use it or lose it. There are some similarities to parenting or being someone’s uncle. You don’t make the final call for other people. You can only coach your loved ones so far until eventually you have to let go and hope for the best.
In order to continue to build a global humanitarian community, you can be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto, Buddhist - whatever you feel comfortable with is of the outmost importance. As long as you don't mind diversity and the wealth it brings, our global home can greatly improve. Even if you renounce religion or spirituality, religious values are deeply entrenched in the foundations of each country’s legislation and regular every day values. There is, in fact, no way to run away from this reality. The key intelligence you need to gather from this blog if you will indulge me is that, no matter who surrounds you, they are people just like you. As such, think before acting or engaging them, as maybe one day the roles could be reversed and you would expect other people to treat you with the highest degree of care, respect and honesty when you are down on your luck. Never judge a book by its cover; you could end up being terribly mistaken.