This I Believe

Diana - Raleigh, North Carolina
Entered on August 14, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that thou shall not kill in the name of religion. “Duh,” as my 6-year-old might say. It’s such a simple statement – why even bother to say it out loud? But, as simple as that sounds, it needs to be said. Sadly, I believe it needs to be said again and again and again, until people really hear it. And until people really believe it.

I believe this simple concept needs to gain a ground swell big enough to extinguish the fire and brimstone and religious fervor that has singed countless souls, ruined innumerable lives. Personally, I can’t comprehend any religious movement that counts dead children as collateral damage or says its soldiers should hide behind human shields.

From America, I see young men and women – too many black, too many poor — pick up arms and put down childhood dreams because, in the land of the free, education is not and opportunities are far from equal. We send our children to foreign lands and, in the name of one God and one way, try to change a world that does not want changing. Too many die from buried bombs and road-side ambushes. And then, at their funerals, zealots curse them because somehow someone equates a lifestyle choice with these poor, lost lives.

What’s right about any of that? Nothing, nothing at all.

I believe it is that very wrongness in the name of religion that feeds the fire of my 12-year-old. Wise beyond her years, she says religion is the cause of too much death and destruction, more cruelty than kindness. I praise her for her independent thinking, I thank the stars that we live in a country in which she can so blatantly blast religion, and I shed a tear for her loss of innocence. It seems so black and white to her – that religion is wrong.

But what of tolerance, I ask? What about appreciating differences and choices and all of the shades of grey in between? I believe it’s not too late to embrace change and practice peace so that it will come naturally to our children and to their children.

I am not a preacher, a priest or even a poet. I am just someone who believes that we can do better.