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Respecting Our Differences While Defending Religious Freedom

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by idea, Jul 22, 2016.

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  1. Research all of the arguments against you and practice come backs.

    1 vote(s)
    6.3%
  2. Research other beliefs and find ways to tear others apart.

    1 vote(s)
    6.3%
  3. Seek to find common ground and avoid areas of contention.

    7 vote(s)
    43.8%
  4. Practice psychological techniques - positive body language, calm, collected, and confident etc.

    5 vote(s)
    31.3%
  5. other

    9 vote(s)
    56.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. idea

    idea Well-Known Member

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    So, our church has recently launched a new video series on "How to defend religious freedom respectfully"

    This is the new video:


    To anyone from any religious or non-religious group who has ever felt the need to defend their beliefs/philosophy...
     
  2. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta and Spiritualist and Pantheist
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    I voted 'other'. I try to understand other positions and form an intelligent objective opinion of their understanding. I then like to discuss with the other person. If I feel the other person has a more innocent faith in something positive, I may not challenge but sympathize.
     
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  3. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    For some reason, the video on my phone and computer are not streaming the video so I can watch it.

    In general, I rather find equal ground or foundation between both people best so if we are talking about different beliefs we still have things in common. It helps because I feel conversation about religion, especially, should be for learning rather than debate. In the religion I follow, I just read that "one should never engage in frivolous debate over the various doctrines or dispute or wrangle over them." To interact with people of different faiths that drastically differ than our own is respect. The only religious I have this issue with is strong protestant Christians that live with me and work with me. So, interaction and finding a common foundation is near zero given they are not open (by admittance and non-verbally) to see in my and others shoes of those who disagree with them religious wise.

    I also find that interaction with people of different religions would be easier if we learned about each other's faiths and take interest. I say this because we ask about the other person's favorite color, what type of music they like, but do we ever take the time to ask about who they are rather than what they like?
     
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  4. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva

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    I voted 3 and 4 because when you are calmly talking about common issues and paying attention to non-verbal cues, you can begin to touch on more contentious issues in a more relaxed, less combative manner. It's always about the long game... never the short, easy victory.
     
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  5. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I voted other because each person is different. I try to read the other person before deciding what to do. In some cases, I will just walk away. In others, where I see there is some hope to have some kind of growth on either or both sides, then I'll continue with a discussion. Certainly I would never have voted for either of the first two options. Certainly, as in the video, listening is a key. I thought the video was well done, perhaps a little sugar-coated.
     
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  6. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    I wonder, is there a specific situation we are voting on or are you looking for some sort of all encompassing preference?
     
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  7. Skwim

    Skwim Veteran Member

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    The best way to interact with people who hold different beliefs is to: grant them the right to their beliefs and move on. :shrug:

    Or is there some reason your interaction must necessarily focus on the difference of these beliefs?


    .
     
    #7 Skwim, Jul 22, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
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  8. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    I can give an example, since I talk and I'm friends with my co-worker. My co-worker is extremely christian. We can talk about cooking and something that inspires her about food would bring her to her foundation of talking about Christs or god. I don't have that personality, as I wasn't raised in a seminary like she has and wasn't raised Christian, but when I talk to her, I'd consider it rude to "move on." (This is interaction between friends rather than strangers) I'll voice my say, such as I understand or that makes sense and that's about it.

    It does depend on the person too. With people I don't know, I have an easier time talking with than people I know. A lot of people don't know what Buddhism is and I try not to be a mirror of what Buddhist believe since we don't all believe the same thing. As for people I know, it's almost a "I have the upper hand" situation. Hard to move on, though, when that person's life and conversation centers around the thing you want to move over. Minds well not be friends.
     
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  9. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    I voted other, because the first thing to do is to know what their beliefs are and how that informs their life and personality and similarly they should know about you. Once that is done, then one can assess if a defence or a polemic is needed at all.
     
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  10. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva

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    One thing I try is to translate my thinking into the person's terms. If they are Christian, I coach my ideas into palatable terms that they can more readily understand. Without being a total dork about it, I'm painfully aware of the fact that the person I am talking to has little chance of understanding my raw, unfiltered ideas. (From your description above, it would seem that you understand to a degree what I mean.)

    At first, when I was younger, that created a huge amount of frustration and the fact that I couldn't really put things into words in that era just made it horrible. But... over time, I gained experience and confidence, then the words just began to flow. Again, one of the most important things for me are the non-verbal cues. And, like you imply, you have to know when to just let a point go... especially if the person is encountering information overload. LOL.
     
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  11. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    religious freedom doesn't exist as an absolute; We are all products of our environment, and have beliefs based on our upbringing, school and education, what we have read, seen or heard on TV. So the choice of our beliefs is not entirely in our conscious control.

    My beliefs, on paper at least, include the elimination of religious belief and independent thought. If everyone lives and works together, they have to think alike and share a consensus even if it's not necessarily identical. The sense of uniqueness in individuality is gone though and that is a problem for most people because of how they value themselves and by what measure.

    What I do with that belief is still up to me however to interpret. Most religions and philosophies share something in common as part of the dominant ideology of society and can agree a basis for tolerance. When you are mainly outside that ideology, the capacity for mis-understandings and conflicts escalate. The hardest part of defending my own beliefs is reconciling the sense that they are true with the emotionally overwhelming sense that virtually everyone I meet wouldn't want them to be true. The self-loathing, doubt and guilt is intense and that is most of the battle: accepting that, whatever people may or may not think, it is an objectively true belief which I cannot ignore gets you a part of the way there. You have to go over every argument and double check the reasoning and make sure it is defensible. It's very insecure as most of the time your beliefs and pretty quickly yourself, become "unnatural", "unrealistic", "impossible", "evil", "totalitarian", etc. I just follow the evidence and the arguments and see which conclusion I reach- it was never deliberately meant to be hostile or offensive. There comes a point however when you have to let go, as no belief is absolutely true, right or wrong, and that process of "acceptence" gives you a much bigger perspective on the disagreements you have with others.

    Whilst this society offers the opportunity for independent thought, actually using it is very different as dissent changes your relationships to friends, family members and peers as well as your identity. There are powerful incentives to conform, often that you were trained into from childhood, and learning to violate those hidden norms in controlled and acceptable ways is tough. You test the water to see if you get burned and it gets easier each time you step outside of the box. Psychologically, it's still very stressful because your only human and some part of you wants to "shut up" because you want people to like you by thinking and behaving like them. Looking at society from the margins does give you a different understanding of the world, and can be useful if you want to give advice based on insights that come from being on the "outside". People can respect that and find it useful. It's one of the better aspects of my experiences and reflects a deeper sense that I want to help that can cross the divide.

    However It's very lonely and isolating and that is what you have to learn to deal with- that sense that you have cut yourself off from everyone else and that the very language means something different to you than to others, Thought patterns are different based on changes in understanding of logic or that you don't share the same understanding of history or science and have to fill in the gaps whilst trying to tell the difference between someone missing your point and you actually being wrong. You are a collectivist without a collective to belong or identify with, a machine part that never fits into the grand scheme of things and that is at odds with it. The disconnect is always there.

    The worst bit is the identity crisis. As the way you use the language changes, the words you'd use to describe yourself change their meaning and trying to explain what you believe to someone who doesn't share that intellectual vocabulary is an intimidating experience as its their identity to. They've been taught that words like "totalitarian", "socialist", "communist", etc are bad or represent the worst humanity can be. They want nothing to do with it- and that feels like they want nothing to do with you. It's the feeling you get when you picked the side of the devil and then have to learn to advocate the unthinkable. An intellectual equivalent of the nightmare where everyone sees you naked- but of course, we were taught to feel shame, we were not born that way. I'm still not sure how I'm going to approach dating with a toxic label- savour it perhaps as dark and sexy, let it out almost as a dare. Sex and Power play suits the totalitarian mindset, as long as your not an *******.

    The hardest part is how unexpected it is to someone who has never heard the other side of the story. So sitting in front of them as they spew the same lines you've heard for the thousandth time as if it were self-evident when your identity, self-worth and experiences tell you it's ******** is tricky. You want to hit them but you want them to like and respect you too. A comment with no ill intent can feel like an insult or a personal attack and you have to learn to be patient and try to tell whether someone is deliberately trying to **** you off, or if their ignorance means they don't know how offensive what there saying is. Often the insults are partially true but the "complexity" evades people because they are using them as a put down to finish an argument- thinking that x,y or z is indefensible when really the arguments only just started because they never thought about it before or have a fixed view that can seem black and white. The trick is getting them to open up to the shades of grey that you live in, the less than perfect reality and leave behind the purity of abstract ideas, for the messiness of practicing those beliefs and living with them.

    In the end, you get a bit existential. You have to live and let live, know that you cannot control others beliefs or what they think about you and so long as they are not violent, not do violence towards them. You let go- accept you are small and that no matter how dangerous society says your beliefs are, they are only ideas and ideas alone cannot hurt anyone. But small is not insignificant- you keep smashing through the boundaries into unexplored territories, reaching out into the unknown and wondering who you will become in the alien landscape you call "home". You accept your thoughts and feelings are not sins, and that you aren't "crazy" (even if it would be easier for everyone else). It is just who you are. It's still up to you to decide what to do with these beliefs and you have some control over its worst aspects. You respect yourself and learn not to anger quickly, be patient and know when to quit and walk away and most of the time, others will respect you even if they don't understand you or what you believe. They see the effort you put in even if they don't know what it's for.
     
  12. DawudTalut

    DawudTalut Peace be upon you.

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    Peace be on you.
    Ahmadiyya-Muslims' view:
    1-Know and practice own faith.
    2-Know other religions' original, nascent teaching.
    3-Know how much other religions have deviated from their original creed.
    4-Talk to others with respect, and in friendly way.....Talk according to person and situation.
    5-Show patience.
    6-Be persistence.
    7-No compulsion.
    +
    +
    .
     
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  13. idea

    idea Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for all of the comments! I'm happy to see that no one has yet chosen option 1 or two on the polls. I agree that debate / arguing etc. is not the answer, and yet it seems like this is what we see on the news so much - it doesn't matter if it is differences in political opinions, or religious/philosophical opinions, whenever there is a protest etc. it seems like #1 and #2 is how people react to interacting with others of different beliefs :(


    At the core, I think there is innocence and good will within all of the different major faiths and belief systems. In order for our species to survive we need to be decent/kind/honest people, and I don't think any belief system would survive or be popular if there were not good solid principles within it. Within each faith or belief system there are good people - educated people, but there are also imperfect human beings who have their good days and bad days... and might want to use their faith to promote selfish endeavors...

    Is there such a thing as a faith that is not innocent? or are we incorrectly judging faiths due to imperfect humans trying to follow grand ideas?

    I like the question of "who" rather than "what". It's hard to ask questions that are personal in nature - everyone tries to keep things professional or something like that. Why are some subjects - like religion/politics/sometimes family choices - hard to talk about without it either turning into a sales pitch, or some kind of a defensive conversation? We can tell someone else our favorite color is red or blue without feeling the need to convince them that their favorite color should also be red or blue ... and yet most people when talking about religion/politics cannot enter a conversation without feeling the need to convince the other that they are right and the other is wrong? Somehow we do not consider a favorite color to be "right" or "wrong" - perhaps we should do the same with everything? No right or wrong political/religious views, just different ways of doing things - like different ways of planting a garden, or different ways of cooking... why do some subjects lend themselves to anyone feeling right or wrong about it - which is what leads to debate - which is what leads to all the trouble in the world?

    Why does it have to be a game with a victory? Why can't it just be two people talking about different ideas - without the need to convert anyone to anything? If there is some motive to win the other person over - it doesn't matter how relaxed or "non-combative" everyone tries to make it, the game under it all will shine through, there will be tension and jabs in the conversation, and it will lead to a non-genuine relationship. Just being polite is not good enough. A happy society can only be created if everyone stops trying to win others over to whatever viewpoint it happens to be I think.

    Walking away is a hard one - if it is just some stranger on the street then sure, but what if it is someone in your family? someone at your work? You are right, everyone is different - from moment to moment too. There are good times to talk to someone, and bad time to talk... Sugar coating does work. Tension can be eased with peace offerings(like food), with humble kind body language . Honey attracts more bees than lemon juice, although fake honey is a real turn off...

    Would the non-sugar coated version just be one in which there was not a happy ending? In real life these things could take years to sort out (too long for a video), or there isn't enough time to sort it out. A message of hope is probably better than a Shakespearean tragedy though. I never did like dramas that end in tragedy.

    all encompassing. I just get so depressed watching the news, seeing people fighting over things, tearing one another down over different beliefs.

    So, where does it become hard to grant them the right to their beliefs? A functional society needs some sort of laws everyone can agree on to live in peace with one another - I supposed that is where it all gets tricky.

    When you know someone there is a new level to it - it's not explaining beliefs anymore (they know your beliefs, and you know their beliefs - you know one another) it's a matter of knowing, but not choosing to follow which makes things uncomfortable?

    Here's another question - in order to have the deepest most meaningful relationship possible with those we know (and love), does everyone have to share the same basic beliefs? Kind of like if you want to get married to someone who is a swimmer, it would probably be a closer relationship if you were a swimmer too, so you could talk over all of the details and experiences all of the same thrills from it etc. etc. - if one person was not a swimmer, and did not care to become one, that would put a damper on things?

    Perhaps the real goal is not to convince anyone to change their beliefs - but the real goal is to just have that deeper relationship with those we know... but we want to have that relationship without losing ourselves in the process? ... can you find yourself through losing yourself - there is a saying about that written somewhere...

    Can beliefs be separated from personality types? do all _________ (fill in the blank with anything you want)____ have some piece of their personality that is the same?or perhaps it is not some Meyers-Brigg personality type, but instead character that might be similar within some group of people?


    Thanks again for all the replies!
     
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  14. Rick O'Shez

    Rick O'Shez Irishman bouncing off walls

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    Other: Run away! :p
     
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  15. idea

    idea Well-Known Member

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    You believe in the elimination of independent thought? I have not heard anyone espouse that before. No wars if everyone holds the same beliefs and thoughts I suppose,

    I agree - no belief is absolutely true. We are all blind mice describing an elephant.

    Conforming is not a bad thing - so long as what you are conforming to is good. Conforming is a faster way to learn - if someone has figured out a good way to do something, and centuries of others have tended to the same solution, then I say it's smart to copy what works!

    A rose by any other name... perhaps if you explained your beliefs using slightly different words. Instead of saying "elimination of independent thought" you could say you believe that heaven/utopia would be a place where everyone can see one another "face to face: and know even as also I am known", or a place where everyone is of " one mind and in one heart, united in all things" (which are words that have been used by others to describe heaven) :)
     
  16. idea

    idea Well-Known Member

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    1-I agree. People are defensive and insecure when they do not fully understand their own faith.
    2 & 3- Truth is eternal and unchanging - does the original belief of all of all of us stem back to truth? Was there a time when humans knew what is true and we are now deviating from that? or in this new enlightened age, are we learning more and changing our old false beliefs to come closer to the truth?
    4→7 completely agree.
     
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  17. Skwim

    Skwim Veteran Member

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    I didn't know it did. It doesn't for me or most people I know. :shrug:

    Or the vast majority of people.

    What gets tricky?


    .
     
  18. idea

    idea Well-Known Member

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    Agreeing on laws that everyone can agree to.
     
  19. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva

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    In this sense, I am meaning "game" somewhat metaphorically, as much of interpersonal communication is almost the intellectual equivalent of a game of "peek-a-boo", as most of us tend to mask what we are really thinking lest the unvarnished truth offend the person with whom we having a discussion. I almost never expect to "win anyone over" and am more inclined to simply plant seeds in their thinking, to expand their thinking in ways that I think might be helpful. That is more how I am meaning the "long game". I do agree that in the vast majority of cases, due to peoples inherent lack of communication skills, if you approach these discussions as a game, your motivations will become clear rather quickly. Similarly, it is difficult to hide intelligence, and if one is much more intelligent that the person(s) one is speaking with a real ice-breaker is to employ liberal doses of humor. Keep 'em laughing and keep their heads bobbing in knowing agreement.

    For example, one thing I am pretty good at is called "mirroring". Mirroring is repeating back to the person an idea that they have just told you to show you were both listening and understand the implications of what they were trying to say. In general, people really like it when they know you are both listening and that you understand what they are saying. Plus it's a good way to overcome areas that are not well understood. That is how real communication works. Compare data before plunging on to the next point as that is the art of finding common ground - an it IS an art.

    Lastly, I do agree that just being polite is not enough. I find overtly polite people who are not listening to be quite insufferable as they aren't really interested in having a real conversation, they are just too polite to say, "**** off". And yes, I do agree about the endless need to come out on top. That is why I most often am content just laying little seeds for folks to munch on, at their leisure. With luck they might actually think about what I have said and expand their thinking a tiny bit. I guess my last parting shot over the bow is to know your facts. Never argue about that which you do not know to be true. It is pointless.
     
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  20. Skwim

    Skwim Veteran Member

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    But it isn't necessary to get everybody to agree on them, just a majority of our lawmakers. In the USA laws are created by the people we elect to our legislatures.


    .
     
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