“Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky…. and no religion too.” These are heard from the lyrics of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” These lines always keep me thinking about John Lennon’s idea when he wrote the song? Is he attacking the faithful crowd or was he just plainly thinking of thoughts from his past experiences? And then, I realized, I was just looking at the very first part of the song and not seeing his views on the other portions of the music. At that time, I came to my personal conclusion that he was just writing the tune because he was seeing events where brothers and sisters are hurting each other because of differences in beliefs. One of these disparities concerns that of spiritual faith. Nonetheless, this song has struck many people specially those who are having intellectual doubts.
For purposes of simplicity in writing the succeeding paragraph, and not for any other purposes such as striking any opinion, I will be calling our brothers and sisters mentioned above as “non-believers.”
“Blessed are those who have not seen Me, yet believed.”
First of all, I would like to voice out that I respect all beliefs. Even the “non-belief” being mentioned above is a belief in itself. I have spoken to many non-believer friends and have asked them deep questions regarding their thoughts. I was able to share some with my believer friends who asked me why I did not try to persuade them to join the side of believers. I could not answer this question. I was afraid that their view of me will change and might be interpreted as not respecting their belief. But, I thought later to myself that all of us followers have the responsibility to preach the gospel to everyone in the world. I also remembered a time when one non-believer friend responded to my query as to why he chose to be that way. His answer was because it was not introduced to him (or to his family). This was only one type of case. As I recalled speaking with a non-believer taxi driver and asked him the reason for his non-belief. His response was because prominent devotees are not acting as what theoretical believers should act like. To leave this subject hanging, I’ll raise these questions: “What are the responsibilities we have as believers? And, which is more important? Is it the preaching, or is it the practice itself?”
By the way, the above are sharing of my self-reflections and not invoking any guilt-trip, if I may say. I had so much self-guilt writing these paragraphs, in all honesty.
In further chats with my non-believer friends, one thing I noticed, which is similar to the believers’ moral message, is that they believe you should do good to your brothers and sisters the way you want to be treated. This is parallel to the teaching of many religions. In many forms, it is written as, “Love your brothers (and sisters) as you love yourself and as the Lord has showed love to you.” In another mode, it’s written as “karma.” In my opinion, resemblances in our principles like this give us the reason to co-exist. This is rooted to the same foundation why people with different cultures are able to live together. The common connections as regards diverse values make two distinct cultures gel. Now, how about the contradictions in customs? The key solution to this lies in the word “respect.”
Many of us will have noticed that it is easier to respect differences in culture than to respect differences in spiritual belief. Culture and spirituality grew alongside each other ever since the ancient times as evidenced by some spiritual ideals becoming part of a country’s culture. Well, why is culture generally much easier to accept and respect than spiritual belief? In my opinion, culture has more “tangible” and “visible” features than spirituality. This might be the reason why some heavenly values have relied and resorted on the power of visible, concrete figures and images to motivate acceptance. To share with you, my personal favorite passage related to this topic states “Blessed are those who have not seen Me, yet believed.”
To conclude, one thing that I would like to point out is the word respect. No one really has an idea how many times this word might have saved a life in the past or the lack of it may have caused a war.