The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. You’ve heard of it, right? Have you really thought about it? The whole “Freedom of Speach” thing?
Well, you should. Because communication is possible in two different flows (directions). Think about it, when you speak, someone hears. When someone else (who is nearby where you are) speaks, you hear. Of course, there are all sorts of enhancements to the cycle, like cell phones, radios, trans-continental phone lines, etc. Doesn’t the listener have rights, too?
Of course they do. The Freedom of Speach has an unwritten corolary: The Freedom to choose what you listen to. As long as you have one, the other is built in. Do you find a particular relative annoying at the holidays? You don’t have to talk to him/her. Don’t like what is on a TV channel? You have the right to change the channel (same goes for radio, btw).
What brought this up? One of my Aunts. You see, for 10 of the last 11 years, I was a staff member of The Church of Scientology. I’ve been a member of many “questionable” organizations in my lifetime – but I have learned something important from all of them.
For more than 20 years, about the only member of my family with consistent knowledge of how to contact me has been my dad. Aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. – no clue. I recently started reaching back out to my family. At first, this one aunt was overjoyed to get to talk to me again. Then she found out about my having been in “the cult.” I really hate to call my aunt closed minded, but it seems to be totally lost on her that the 1st Amendment includes BOTH the freedom of speach and the freedom of religion. She immediately put the word out to all of her kids (my cousins) that I was a part of something evil, and unchristian, and was not to be talked to. They haven’t – not a one of them.
There is something else about the freedom of speach – that is the freedom to seak out information. I did eventually choose to leave the Church of Scientology – but I learned more (about mankind and the nature of our spirituality) from that organization than from any Christian church I have ever attended. It was a necessary step on my own personal path to becoming a better person. However, because of closed-minded biggots, my own family won’t talk to me. They consider me a threat to their salvation.
So, let me ask a question. If simple, unimportant little ole me can actually threaten their eternal salvation, are they really saved? Is their faith real – or just something to take off of a clothes hook and wear to church on Sunday? No, I don’t expect anyone out here in cyberland to be able to answer that – but why would interacting with people of any other faith cause a problem.
Answer: it shouldn’t. It doesn’t – unless you are a person who “makes their living” off of the tithes and offerings of the flock. Then, you have a vested interest in keeping the flock close, preventing them from looking, because your standard of living is threatened if they might happen to decide to go somewhere else. However, religion has been responsible for more death and suffering on this planet (especially through war) than any other man-made source in history. We will NEVER end the fighting, despite our absolute best intentions, until we can truely embrace someone of another faith, and (without reservation or qualification) call them our brother in the family of humanity.
When Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Scientologists, and athiests can all play together in the same city park, and nobody cares what the others believe, we will have made a huge stride forward towards lasting peace.