Religious people often speak like they have access to truth that others do not. They speak like they possess some divine enlightenment. Like they found the truth, and everyone else is in the dark. And they talk to people like they’re lost, like they’re blind, and ignorant, but the religious person just so happened to figure it out and find the truth, and knows best. There’s a certain hubris to certain religious speech. I find that rather than speaking with people, religious figures speak at them. Like people don’t know what’s good for themselves.
I remember growing up in the church and having this impression of “non Christians”. They were all in the dark, lost, sinning. I remember how the religious folks talk about the unsaved, like they were fallen, incapable of knowing certain spiritual realities and truths. “You need to live like this, because this is the way to live, and I know the way, because I know the truth.”
Eventually I found myself very close with these non-believers, becoming best of friends with them. These atheists, these Muslims, these Hindus. They were capable of kindness and possessed wisdom and all the other fruits of character which I was raised to believe were only accessible to Christians. I realized how silly I was thinking they weren’t capable of knowing spiritual realities and truths, despite having a different set of beliefs or faith. Some people are less reflective than others, but I found myself ashamed to think that people with different beliefs or lifestyles were any less capable or equipped to know what’s right and true.
We really can’t be compassionate with others until we’re compassionate with ourselves.
When I was growing up, I used to look up to these figures. They had it all figured out. Or they spoke like they did. In time,
I realized they didn’t. That they were just like everyone else, but masked it better.
I became wary of anyone who thinks they have found the truth. Like it’s a destination. Like something that can be had, or known in full.
I realized there were many who possessed a humility, who didn’t claim to know, but were committed to seeking the truth, and they speak like the pursuit of truth is an endless journey. They realize that self deception and ignorance is a feature of humanity, and have the humility to journey on despite that feature, despite knowing there is no arrival, but seeking truth nonetheless. They don’t claim to know anything. They just possess the desire to know.