This I Believe

Karlan - Bennington, Vermont
Entered on January 27, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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This I Believe: Religion is Both a Blessing and, if not a Curse, Hardly Perfect

Let me qualify this by saying that I’m not trying to bash people’s faith. I don’t see religion as something horrible that needs to be abolished. I see it more as something that people turn to when life is really bad, or even just when they need guidance. It’s a means of avoiding the hardships of life, believing that “yeah, life sucks right now, but someday I’ll be in heaven and everything will be O.K.” And if that’s what people need to get through the day, I say more power to them. Without religion, we’d have a lot more clinically depressed people walking around.

It both amuses me and depresses me that we, as a people, need religion. It amuses me because to me it is so obviously hypocritical, and it depresses me that so many people base so much of their life on it. Perhaps I am too logical to grasp the whole idea of faith, but I can’t see how people swallow the whole deal hook, line, and sinker. I look around me and see horrible things done to others by people who belong to religions that espouse pacifism (as almost all of them do, as far as I can tell). It seems to me that to the general public, religion is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. You can stuff yourself full, but you can also pass over the bits that don’t appeal, or would require too much exercise later. And from what I’ve seen, most people go straight for the “God Forgives Everyone” and the “Eternal Salvation” courses, passing over “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” and “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself” as healthy, but not nearly as tasty.

Of course, everyone’s different, and I think faith inspires some people to do great things, from devoting their lives to helping others, to simply giving what they can to charity. However, it saddens me that it takes the threat of going to Hell to goad others into action. I try to be a good person just for the sake of being a good person, even though I believe that when I die, that’s it. Maybe someday someone will enlighten me to the great draw of religion, but until then, I see it as a means of controlling the masses (for good and bad), and escaping from the reality of life – a reality that, in my humble opinion, has some nasty moments, but also has some amazing ones all by itself, without divine intervention.