Religion. Its a big word that carries a lot of weight and is thrown around a lot in the wrong context. More people use religion as a way to justify what they feel is right. It is rarely used in self reflection to see what is wrong and what may be repaired. Most of the world leaders in this field have glaring faults, and are quicker to point to the faults in others rather then work on their own personal growth. There are always exceptions to this, I mean I really do respect the Dalai Lama. That man really does live his religious beliefs. He however is the rare exception, and one that was forced to play politics rather then forcing others into politics.
Our founding fathers where serious about the need to have a separation of church and state, yet they also made sure to protect our religious freedoms. I think I am getting the gist of it, and really starting to understand why they did that. If you look in history and see the governments that shunned religion you see a huge amount of failure. The USSR, China, Nazi Germany, to name a few. When you repress the ideology of others then you breed a deep resentment. People need to have their faith in order to feel they are more then a clump of organic compounds and molecules floating through the infinite cosmos of space. They need to at least be able to question their existence to a point. They also need to be able to pursue their spiritual progression in a way that is unhindered or they become rebellious.
On the other side of the coin you have religion imbedded in politics. This is called a theocracy. Very few of them have been successful. Some managed to hold power for awhile, but they rarely rose to the spotlight in a positive way on the global stage. The Taliban managed to do that and run Afghanistan for awhile. The Holy Roman Empire held onto the ashes of another empire for a few generations, and even now one of the great global powers sits on the throne in the Vatican. However they limit their views and assume they are right though, and they allow themselves to feel right by not letting anyone else feel any other way.
The beauty of freedom of religion is that we are allowed to challenge ourselves. We are allowed to explore our own personal relationship with the divine. We can figure what works for us, and what is our purpose in life. We are not limited to one set of unchallenged views, and all views are put to the test to see what strength and merit they actually have. If you believe in God, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, Vishnu, The Tao, Odin, Zeus, or even the works of a horrible science fiction author you are free to challenge those beliefs and in turn challenge yourself. This is meant to make you stronger and help you find that one true path. It is called learning.
I am a firm believer that learning is a huge process even in the aspects of spirituality. With out challenge you get complacent. Complacency breeds laziness. Laziness in turn leads to stagnation. Stagnation leads to extinction. So we must always challenge ourselves and those around us to think, to grow, and to grow stronger in our ideals. This to me is the path of growth regardless of what faith your decide to wrap yourself in.
The trouble that we have with our belief systems today in America is that we are free and we as a people have grown in reverse. Rather then mature and find spiritual growth we seek the path of least effort. We want the answers given to us, and we want them given to us with the minimal effort. We also only want to hear the stuff that makes us feel good about ourselves. We would rather tell other people what is wrong with their religious choices, then take that long look in that spiritual mirror and improve our own behavior. I was told the best way to lead was by example. If you feel so strong in your faith then live it, take the good with the bad, and live it. If you live it well and it is right and just, others will emulate you. This to me is how people you should spread the word. Not in white shirts and black ties catching me when I am in the shower.
I do not care what a persons faith is, I need only worry about my own. My relationship with my God is a challenge in many ways. I am given a purpose to my life and it does not involve being lazy in my ideas. It does not involve the minimal sacrifice. It does not involve tolerance for people claiming my faith and faltering from the path. It also does not involve me converting as many people as I can to my way of thought so I can validate it to the masses. Just because a thousand people say they agree with me and send me enough money to pay for a Jesus Theme Park, and supply me with hookers until the end of time, does not mean that I am right.
So many people are looking for that hand out, even in this aspect of life. This is also not the place for it. If there was ever a place that it would hurt, this is the part where it would hurt the most. I do not need that happy happy joy joy personal affirmation of feel good motivational speeches that make up the sermons of today's churches. Nor do I need the terror tactics of fire and brimstone to keep the weak thoughtless masses inline. What I need is to get my soul in the gym, just like I do for my body, and work at making it strong and able. I need to challenge my beliefs so they can learn to roll with the punches, and stop eating the junk that is dished up in the massive mega mall churches of today.
This is something that is a huge part of us as individuals, yet we like to let it slide and assume it will do fine on its own if we let it be and listen to those that say they know better. That is like saying watching the infomercial for P90X is gonna give you that swimsuit body you always wanted. It takes effort on your behalf. You want to be a lazy do nothing asshole, then don't bitch when you can't see your genitals because the fat flap loin cloth covers them up. I walk with my God everyday. I talk to him every chance I get. I took the effort to learn to speak to him. It was like learning a whole other language. I work myself out, and I study on my own. This is my relationship with my God though. You go get your own, and stop taking that spoon fed bullshit. If you want to that is okay, but then don't bitch or tell me how I need to worship your God in your way. Its kind of like no child left behind, lets bring everybody down to the level of the slowest child doing the least amount of effort in order to make all the kids feel good.
Fuck that. I am going to keep running ahead. I am going to enjoy my spiritual path. I am going to challenge myself and sacrifice what I need to sacrifice to build my relationship with my God. He has sacrificed enough for me, I will be his right hand. I will strengthen myself enough to worthy of that title. I will do it for no one else though. I will not take the good from all faiths and make one happy fuzzy bunny no bad stuff ever rose colored water downed super sized grease burger faith either. In this I do not compromise.