My dad and I were talking on the phone the other day about the condition of the world right now. He's rather cynical and said that he believes humanity will destroy itself someday (he said man, but I'm editing him). I'd like to hope that we can learn from our past mistakes. I don't think we'll ever reach a Utopian state, but I think we could do better than what we're doing right now. I know where he's coming from. The global scene is somewhat discouraging even if things are good in some places of the world. I guess I look at the good parts and hope, believe even, that with enough effort, we could make things like tolerance and respect the norm. In fact it's that our scene is global now that is so encouraging to me. We can't be ignorant of things anymore, so hopefully we'll start trying to change more since we're aware of the things that are going on outside our local community.
The first step for such a thing to happen, is to get over our religious selves. I'm sort of religious--I'm kind of agnostic right now. However, part of what disenchanted me from religion was the us/them structure of most religions (Eastern spiritual practices excluded from what little I know of them). This applies especially to the big three--Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Their "choice people" rhetoric is inherently dangerous to global peace. Each of the three religions is busy talking about how special they are compared to the poor heathen (who is a conglomeration of which ever two aren't being spoken of at the time) who has no idea about God, is being deceived by the evil half, and who will most certainly wind up in a less than happy (sometimes downright hellish) place after death. And so the proponents of these religions argue back and forth about whose right, who has the most rights because of their divine "election" and how that should be played out in life.
Lastly, I've wondered if the "prophecies" of these religions is to blame somewhat. Because of the belief from most of these traditions that God is omni-everything, they've taken their prophecies to be statements of future fact, rather than things that would happen if they weren't willing to live by the various standards of their faith. So it is that the world is in such a precarious and yet potentially good position. Most people in the world belong to one of the Big Three and are just waiting for Armageddon, the second coming of Christ, or the first coming of Christ (depending on which persuasion you apply to). And because they've accepted the cataclysmic events that are supposed to accompany all of these events, they are taking a kind of "this is how it's supposed to be so I'm not going to do anything about it" stance. And this is where I part with religion. All of the Big Three claim (at least in most circles) to be big proponents of peace, love, charity, compassion, etc., and yet are reluctant to throw a bone to the other two for fear of giving up their "chosen" status. I don't know if humanity will destroy itself or not; I don't know if Christ is coming or not; but I do know that if we would stop saying "this is how it has to be" and say "let's surprise God by doing great things for each other regardless of where we come from" then perhaps all of this war and unrest would go the way of all the earth. And then, if God is there, he'll be pleased that we've worked out our differences and if he's not, then humanity will still be better off than it has been since we started organizing ourselves into civilizations.
Lastly (for real this time), let me clarify. I'm not anti-religion. I think that if religions would really practice what they preach about peace and love, then they have great potential to effect change. Even though I don't know about where I stand in religion doesn't mean I want to eradicate the traditions. I think that a militant atheist/agnostic is just as bad as a militant Christian, Jew, or Muslim. So what I'm advocating is a little more willingness to admit how much we don't know and work together on what we do know--that humanity is capable of good things. I think that then, things will get better. Oh, and also, I realize that each of the religious powers has a tendency to cover its ploys for power and gain in religious clothing--but that's a whole other post.