Living in a culture where the current motto is ‘speak up’, more and more people from all around the world are engaging in conversations which are important to them in all media and circumstances. The dark side is that conflicts develop due to the rise of divisions within and between nations, but issues such as religion, human rights, abortion, and sexuality are all part of society’s current conditions which need to be discussed and dealt with. Religion is probably the trickiest subject matter to manage in mixed company – and even among friends.
Religion is a massive part of Greek culture, and is reflected in people’s identity due to their upbringing. Beliefs, values, and traditions form key parts of religious discussions –but each person has their own.
We are living in an argumentative culture, where we feel the need to be different and give an opposed opinion to what the other person is saying. And there is a theme of separation vs. connection out there in the world as we seem to be trying hard to polarize ourselves from one another.
The topic of religion links to this perspective because of the way we grew up, whether that means where we happen to live geographically, or how our family raised us to believe in a certain faith.
Conflict may even arise between friends as everyone has a different cultural background and sometimes it is hard to accept what some of our friends say or do in this context. Values-based conflicts may occur due to multiple constituents being engaged in intractable issues. These are defined as issues which cannot be resolved by simple communication because they involve conflicting values, beliefs, and rituals.
Religion poses challenges in this regard because the ideas and beliefs people grew up with cannot be changed in a matter of days, since they make sense to us, and because they have engendered a particular stance in life.
Embrace the bigger picture by respecting the other person’s values even if you can’t accept them, and be open in discussions, moving away from division.
Divisions also occur in society over religion due to the way media covers religion – we don’t know enough about our own, let alone others’. Since we live in a digital culture, people now get most of their news online, and religious matters come up only occasionally, popping-up here and there sometimes. Discussing religion is no longer considered important in the media because of the rise of other highly conversed issues such as sexuality, human rights, and climate change. These subjects have overtaken religious beliefs as matters of interest, especially among the young. Religion now seems irrelevant and has disappeared in our age.
Values are a major part of any religion. These are things people hold dear culturally and cannot easily be changed. Moral values are especially complicated by religious pluralism because something may be viewed as right or wrong be one religion, and differently by the another. Friends may see what I do as sins.
At some point, discussion settles down to the human, not intellectual level. Our experiences are part of what make up our values and religious approaches. On the one hand, one may not be able to connect with another person’s experiences as they are focused on their own, on the other, common experiences might open windows to better understanding another person, with all his different thoughts and viewpoints. Allowing new ideas to come through means that you are accepting your openness.
Some define religion as having faith in a power that is stronger than us. At the end of the day, no matter what you believe in, faith itself is what gives you strength to move forward. It is something people live by, so the main aim in a conversation should not be to change the other person’s opinion, but rather to try and understand their upbringing and the reasons why they believe what they believe – and even pick up some notions and perspectives that are helpful in our own lives. They may even appear somewhere in our own faith’s scriptures – maybe we just hadn’t found them yet.