Mine is guided by empathy.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong if yours is guided by your religion, but let’s be clear about what your religion teaches.
If your leaders are teaching you things like, “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” or that certain groups of people don’t deserve God’s grace, then maybe your religion isn’t truly righteous.
Perhaps those of us who are seemingly good people without the guidance of organized religion are even more righteous. Why, you ask? Because we are good people without the threat of eternal damnation being held over our heads.
Can you believe that some religions teach that empathy is a sin? That trying to relate to others is overindulging in your own feelings? By attempting to relate to others, you submit to and accept their personal sins and become sinful yourself. Such are the teachings of certain theologians.
Some of these go so far as to say that the general cultural shift to be more empathetic has broken down the very values of Christianity.
But empathy is not a sin. It is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
I eat with empathy since I follow a vegan lifestyle. Why should an animal have to suffer for me to survive? I can thrive on plants.
I’m so empathetic that I rescue spiders from my house. They just found their way into a place where they aren’t supposed to be.
This brings me to the rash of shootings making the news lately; those of people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Crimes that can seemingly only happen in gun-crazy America.
But in the past month, we have had 3 shooting incidents that seem way out of proportion to the supposed crime of entering someone’s property. A Black boy was shot when he showed up at the wrong address to pick up his siblings; his elderly white male shooter is free on bond. A 20-year-old woman was shot and killed because she dared to turn around in someone’s driveway. And two teenage girls were shot when they entered the wrong car, mistaking it for their ride.
This violence is senseless. Did any of these shooters actually feel threatened by these people? Startled, maybe. But did they really think they were going to die? I doubt it. But they have pent-up anger and a gun, just waiting for an excuse to pull the trigger.
Perhaps if they had taken a moment to pause, to try to understand the intent of the person in their space, maybe they could have seen these actions as they were: simple mistakes.
The world needs more empathy.
If we could imagine living in the world of another human, maybe we could reach a better understanding of all of the injustices in this world. But more than just thinking with empathy, we need to act with empathy.
In order to correct the wealth gaps, racial disparities, ageism, and ableism of our world, we actually need to consider what real people experience in modern America. Lawmakers need to get their hands out of the deep pockets of corporations funding their campaigns and try to understand the constituents they represent. And based on the discriminatory teachings of evangelical circles, I can’t say that guidance through a religious lens is the correct path for a just America.
When your rules and laws encroach on personal freedoms, Americans are not free. America should not be a theocracy. We are not a Christain nation. Whites are not superior. Mothers should have more rights than a fetus. Justice should be dealt equally; no separate rules for the white and wealthy. And guns should not have more rights than people.
I’m increasingly disenchanted with the current situation in the United States. We have more guns than people. We have the worst healthcare system of any developed nation. Our life expectancies are dropping. Guns are the leading cause of death in children. We have the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country. Where do we go from here?
One thing is certain. If we don’t try to understand these injustices and problems, even if they don’t seem like they will affect us personally, we will not make progress as a nation. We need to seek empathy as a guide. We need to act with empathy and help make this country better. This is no time for apathy.
Are you frustrated with the state of the US as well? I’d love to hear about it.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.
2 thoughts on “What Guides Your Moral Compass?”
Another fabulous entry in your blog! Thanks so much for taking a stand and then owning it! I agree with everything you wrote, and appreciate your words more than I can adequately express here!
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What a brave & amazing post. Thank you for giving a voice to the headlines that weigh on so many of is & also for challenging organized religion
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