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Religion's Role in Today's Divisive World



The origin of humanity’s inclination to demonize other people is something I’ve been thinking about lately.


When I was in high school, we were required to take a civics class. When the course met, the teacher required that we report on a current event each week. The teacher wanted us to stay updated with worldwide developments.


Looking back, while there were always unpleasant events that took place, it seems those were simpler times. It may have been my naiveté, but it didn’t seem as though there was as much pervasive, raw, and emotional divisiveness as there is today.


I'm not suggesting that we didn't have challenges; we certainly did. It seems today that it's more widespread and intense than I recall. We have division and conflicts over culture, what type of books are acceptable to read, what and how to teach when it comes to uncomfortable history, the legal rights of marginalized groups, what voting laws should be on the books, and disputes on the validity and extent of climate change's impact on the planet.


Divisiveness, the "us vs. them" mentality, goes beyond philosophical differences; it has religious roots. In fact, the origin of Satan evolved from demonizing those who disagreed with the power structure in the Christian movement. Those who opposed were considered the "other" and thus bad people. Much of the "us vs. them," and making other people evil, is in the fabric of religion.


It is important to note that the demonization of so-called others was not limited to traditional Christianity. The "us vs. them" paradigm is also found in other major religions. Demonization usually starts with those within the faith. but later includes those outside it. As a result, those in the majority move from mere rhetorical attacks on others to becoming a moral and psychological justification for persecution of those they perceived as heretics and opponents, both real and imagined.


Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist and founder of analytical psychology, noted that such demonization became part of cultural patterning. Jung called this patterning the "collective unconscious" because it became embedded in the psyche of a large portion of humanity.


This collective unconscious has created a belief of duality in religions that created God and Satan, and in human consciousness “us vs. them." This mindset, more accurately described as a virus, is infecting the collective consciousness today. This infection influences, if not consciously but unconsciously, the divisiveness we see today in our society and world.


But, there is a solution. And, it lies in embodying the root meaning of religion - "to bind together." Such embodiment requires we move away from the belief in duality to the realization of "Oneness.” When humanity realizes there is no "other," but there is only "us," we will rise above that divisive energy to the energy where we work toward divine solutions. When we do, we all benefit.


This is something I've been thinking about.


Peace and Blessings,

James

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