Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Eastover

It's spring and time for those most religious of holidays, Passover and Easter.  Passover commemorates the story of Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, fleeing the bonds of slavery by the Pharaohs.  Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after being tortured, crucified, and killed by the Romans.  They come about the same time every year.  The Jews eat unleavened bread to remember how they left Egypt in such a hurry, they didn't wait for the dough to rise, plus items from the Passover plate, each with a meaning about life as a Jew. The Christians in the English-speaking world eat lamb or a roast of beef or ham.  Butter is often in the shape of a lamb.

I work with a group of people who are pretty much unobservant.  The ones who do observe are very observant, religious, and avid in the beliefs, devoting time to their churches.  Everyone else, really, is respectful but only socially observant, i.e. Easter eggs and chocolates because they are fun, matzo because it's delicious, and Christmas because it's socially charged not to do so.

I fall into the group of the unobservant.  It's been a long while since I've properly gone about the duties of my religion - decades, really -- but I still consider myself a member of this faith.  I know people who are true believers and they don't take me very seriously at all.  I recall the husband of someone I knew from high school being pretty cold to me because I didn't believe as he did.  I even worse a very modest dress -- sleeves with a long skirt -- so as not to insult my high school pal who is now a member of the clergy.  She was lovely but her husband really turned his nose up at me.

I recently spent some social time with one of the office believers.  There were references to Lent as if (1) I knew what that was all about and (2) I observed it myself.  I only know about Lent because my best high school friend was a nice Catholic girl at the time and she shared facts about her religion with me which I still remember.  As for the office guy, good for him that he believes.  Good for me that I didn't tell him to please shut up because I don't care and how dare he assume that I believed what he did.

People believe different things.  Religion gives some people a great deal of comfort and strength; the Communists proclaim it to be an opiate of the masses.  I say neither, both, or whatever makes you happy as long as it doesn't hurt anyone.  We could spend a lot of time having discussions about the differences in our faiths or lack thereof, but the bottom line is we need to respect each other as people.  I don't care what you believe as long as you don't shove it down my throat, make gross generalizations about members of any other religion, and don't judge.  You might muster up the strength to feel the same about everyone else.

I stole my personal credo from a friend, the late Michael Wm. Randolph Jr., who was a very proud atheist.  It thoroughly expresses how we might live our lives and it is this:  Common sense, common decency, common courtesy, and take a nap if you're crabby.

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