I learned today that most of us think of ourselves as good people and it made me wonder what the hell gave us such an idea. After much spacing out during conversations and looking out windows, I thought that it might be because each of us have different ideas of what it means to be a good person.
I asked. A pious answer was given to me. I did not like it.
I’ve been watching Master of None. I think it’s one of my most favorite series right now. It has a lot of very good ideas, it’s funny and filled with some really cool cinematography though also some weird, questionable acting. But I’m no expert. I find that the main character Dev, a New yorker of Indian descent, is a very relatable character to us Ethiopians raised in a conservative culture because we are under heavy influence wanting to make our surrounding evolve into something highly resembling the western world while still rooted to own traditional values.
You’ll understand what I mean if you watch the series. I highly recommend it.
I saw season two sometime ago and the third episode’s idea stayed with me because it touched on an important point that I’d been thinking about myself. The episode was titled “Religion.”
Religion is a very sensitive topic that I have lately been trying to avoid. Unsuccessfully of course I mean watch me write a whole blog entry.
In the aforementioned episode of Master of None, Dev concludes his own religious philosophy by saying that it should be enough that one is a good person and that religion must be open to one’s own interpretation. So, he eats pork and doesn’t pray salat or fast during Ramadan because he calls himself “not that religious”. His mother becomes really disappointed by him and ends up not speaking to him. Then his father says to him,
“It’s not about eating pork, it’s not about the religion, it’s about you ignoring us not realizing who you are. You see, our parents raised us to be a good Muslim. When you went to school, we gave you a Quran. I don’t think you ever read it. When you act like this we feel like we failed you. Look man, you can drink, you can eat pork, you can smoke Mary Jane, that’s your business. But when you do it in front of mom, it hurts her feelings.”
Hurting other people’s feelings in the name of staying true to one’s own beliefs is something of a self-righteous excuse many present to being total pricks. The idea of being stubborn about one’s religious views also makes many feel somewhat superior to others which is ironic because many religions claim to preach unconditional love and being humble. I was raised in a very orthodox household. I know how important tradition is. It is very beautiful but I wonder if the smugness that follows from being good at following a certain rule is all that necessary.
In this age of massive diversity, a probable three out of four will have all different religious views and even in the same religion, different interpretations which tend to create divisions. And division is the last thing we want, isn’t it? It amazes me how some children have been so brainwashed to hate people of other religions.
I read a Wiccan bible once and I found this insanely interesting idea. The only real sin in the Wicca religion is hurting another being. While Wiccans generally respect nature and the circle of life, they are mostly vegetarians and live their lives worshiping nature and being grateful to it. Wicca is an ancient religion of nature commonly known as witchcraft. This is a very hated practice and deemed fraudulent. At this point, I am not interested in whether it is real or fake or if Jesus is lord or not or if there is a God or not. Belief, in my opinion whatever it maybe, should come by one’s own choice and be personal.
Being a good person is not about not drinking or smoking. It’s not about believing in God or not. It’s not being intelligent.
It’s entirely about compassion and empathy irregardless of whatever religion one follows.
Not being a good person is always an option too if one is willing to face the consequences.
P.S. The Shack by William P. Young is also a book I’d recommend. It changed my life to say the least.