Sunday, June 7, 2015

Changes and Choices

Politicians, like underwear, should be changed often, and for the same reasons.
 - Unknown

I was asked by a coworker a few weeks ago: "Is getting high a sin?" I could only reply, "Not according to my religion."

That isn't strictly true.

My statement implies that I subscribe to organized religion, and while I do consider myself dedicated to a set of spiritual beliefs, I certainly am not religious. But none of this should be new to any of my long-time readers.

While I understand that many people (and I'm lucky in this respect) feel pressure from their families and communities to commit to a particular religion, it seems to me that spirituality itself ought to be so flexible.

Here's how I see it:

You have three choices when a choice or a behavior of yours violates some rule that your religion sets forth. 1) You can change your choice or behavior to suit your religion; 2) you can change your religion to suit your choice or behavior; or 3) you can change neither and feel guilty about both.

The third option is the easiest to make, but it weighs you down for the rest of your life, or until you switch to a different option. I can't imagine there is much happiness derived from a life living under option three.

The second option is, I think, the hardest to make in the sort term, but the easiest to live with in the long term. It's a hard leap, even in the most liberal environments, to shift belief systems, regardless of how slight it may be. In particularly conservative environments, especially in homogenous families and communities, you risk losing friends, close ties to family members, ostracization, and at worst, excommunication.

The first option is relatively easy in the short term, but like the third option, seems to be to be a life fraught with guilt. Yes, some people can commit to a change in their choices and behaviors so thoroughly that they are sincerely grateful they chose that route and feel no regret or yearning or second thoughts that they didn't choose a different one.