Sunday, 24 January 2010

To every man his faith

(Just Life)
YEARS ago, whilst on a trip to Benin, I watched a TV programme in which three people were discussing religion. The three discussants were a Christian, a Muslim and a traditionalist. The traditionalist was the most vocal of the three and he had an argument for everything.
When the Christian tried to quote from the Bible, the traditionalist laughed and asked why he should believe some book written by men, especially when the average man was a liar.
Didn’t he know that the truth could have been distorted, the traditionalist asked him. The Christian tried to answer back but couldn’t, instead some strange unintelligible sounds emanated from his mouth.
The traditionalist floored them all with his arguments. As you can imagine, the moderator had a herculean task trying to keep the peace and he was flustered most of the time.
Never having seen someone profess their faith openly as a traditionalist, I found the whole matter ever so slightly disturbing.
Of course, I knew that other religions existed, but perhaps, I naively didn’t think that a member of another faith could openly crush the teachings of someone else’s.

CONSIDERING the number of major world religions (19 in number, which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones), it should be clear, especially as each faith teaches that they are the ‘true religion,’ that some followers of some religions are on the wrong path.
As far as we know, no two religions teach exactly the same message and it would even be difficult to find two faith groups within the same religion that have identical teachings and practices.
And as religions are so different, only one could be the ‘true religion’. Perhaps possibly, none are. The problem is how to find out which religion and which faith groups can be said to be the ‘true religion’.
There is no sure-fire way to confirm this. Only God knows and since He seems to be withdrawing form direct communication with us, we probably won’t find out anytime soon.

NOW, one’s personal beliefs about what the true religion is, is largely determined by a number of factors, for instance, the country in which one happens to have been born, the part of that country in which one happens to have been born, and the beliefs of the parent(s) to which one happens to have been born.
With this in mind it would be clear that the fact that you are Buddhist or Hindu or Christian most times has little to do with you or any choices you may have made. Perhaps then people might just be less inclined to oppress, discriminate against, murder or commit mass murder and genocide against people of other faiths such as has happened during the past in countries around the world including Nigeria.
Wouldn’t we all have better lives if more people accepted their religion as the best faith for them, but at the same time recognized that there are other religions which teach about other gods, other ways of life and belief systems etc?
As almost all faiths teach and motivate people to lead better lives, wouldn’t our lives be the better for it if we followed the teachings of our faiths as best as we can.
Perhaps then there might be fewer people willing to defend their particular religion by oppressing or killing followers of other religions.
Then again perhaps if more people combined their faiths like Mr. Sasarobia (see last week’s edition) then their levels of religious tolerance should double.

Coping with depression

Rule out a medical cause for your depression. A chemical imbalance can result in uncontrollable sadness and depression. See a medical expert for testing.
• Set aside time each week to help those less fortunate. You might feel as though your lot in life is poor but there are always others who need your help. Donate your time to read to children at the library or serve meals to the homeless. Call your local Chamber of Commerce to get contact information for volunteer organizations.
• Catch yourself when you’re thinking self-destructive thoughts and turn them around. This isn’t easy but when you find yourself thinking that nothing good ever happens to you, sit down and remember the good things. Summon the feelings you had during those moments.
• Make a list of your accomplishments. Anything you have achieved, counts. If you were in a kindergarten play, write it down. If you play the guitar, write it down. Write down every little thing that you’ve ever down that took even a tiny bit of talent or skill. The idea is to focus on your accomplishments and not the negatives in your life.
• Develop your spirituality. Whether or not you are religious, you may find comfort and support in a spiritual setting. Visit a different church every Sunday or if organized religion just isn’t your thing, check out some books on alternative spirituality.
• Put your feelings down on paper. Start a daily journal where you record your emotions each day. Self-therapy is very successful for some people who suffer from depression. Dig deep into your mind and write down the reasons you think are behind your feelings. Do this every night or when you are feeling overcome by depression.
• Find a creative outlet. Some of the most famous artists and writers in history were depressed. Get some art supplies and paint or draw. Start writing a book or make some crafts. Channel your depression into an art form.
• Get off the sofa and go outside. Plan a daily walk at the same time each day and do it even if you don’t want to. Regular exercise puts your mind in a more relaxed state and can lift your spirits. Alternately, join a health club and work out with a buddy.
• Talk to someone. Depression is not shameful. Sometimes it helps to tell others how we feel and get their feedback. If you don’t have a therapist or cant afford one, call your public health agency and ask about free support groups in your community.
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