So for some reason my mind wandered back last night to a meeting of my Political Economy of Racism class, which I just happened to be taking in September of 2001. The teacher was (is) an American woman of Afghani and Pakistani descent. Members of the class included me, the old(er) white lady, and my groupmates, a young, first-generation American woman whose parents emigrated here from Pakistan – she was doing her semester abroad type of deal only her home school was Clark University in Worcester, about forty-five minutes away - and two young women from Smith College are extremely well-read and typical of the bright, questioning, civically (is that a word? because I was going to say politically but that doesn’t seem to cover anything outside, well, politics) involved students who attend colleges like Smith and Berkeley and yes, even UMass. The rest of the class were students from UMass,
Anyway, this class was held in the aftermath of 9/11, which made it an interesting time to be learning about, and with, this type of multi-cultural group. Sure, we covered the effects of racism in
Part of the problem, I suppose, is that most religions teach that theirs is the one True religion. That theirs is the one True God. All the Jews are taught that the Catholics are wrong in their beliefs. The Sunnis are taught that they are more faithful than the Shiites. The Catholics are so cocksure about their beliefs they barely teach from the Bible. (Disclaimer, I was raised Catholic and did - spent - twelve years in Catholic schools.) The so-called Christian Coalition members are taught that the Scriptures are to be followed to the letter, unless, of course, it creates an inconvenience, and then it’s a matter of interpretation.
Another problem is that religious fanatics can become so overzealous that they can’t allow for different opinions or beliefs. Some are so intent on following the one True path they don’t, can’t, or won’t recognize that the path to religious freedom is actually more like an interstate, with many roads leading to the same “place.” You can get there from here. It just takes a little guidance, kind of like a righteous
But that analogy introduces another question. Science and technology versus religion. There’s a lot of dissidence about whether schools should teach creationism or evolution in the classroom. That’s an interesting problem. I’m not sure there’s a solution. Not an easy one, at any rate. Creationism is a theory upon which many religions are based. We all know the basic premise, that there is
I have very little background in cosmology, but I understand the basics of it and the theory of evolution. It makes sense. I also have faith, despite my wanderings from the Church, that there is a god. Maybe not your God. Maybe not just one God. But some higher Being who gives us something, someone, to believe in. I used to wonder how scientists can reconcile their faith, their belief, their religious truth, with their knowledge and understanding, their evidence, their scientific truth. My best answer to that is, That’s the difference between Belief and Faith. One can believe that there was some cataclysmic event that caused the Big Bang, resulting in matter exploding through an infinite space that eventually developed into planets, at least one of which sustains life as we know it. At the same time, one can have faith in Genesis, that God is responsible for, well, everything. Despite the scientific finality of death, one can believe there is a higher purpose, that there is life after death in some form (and I don’t disregard reincarnation). Faith and Belief can co-exist. At least in my life. Of course I also strongly believe in the separation of church and state, despite the fact that, for the most part, man’s law is based on religious doctrine.
I still have a lot of thinking to do about these issues. I’m not looking for a solution to the world’s problems, just a better understanding of them.
Food for thought. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.