From a young age, we are taught that there are certain things that you simply do not talk about: money, politics, and faith. In a time when tensions are high and patience is low, faith can be a tricky subject to address. The worry that someone will be offended is almost tangible, especially in a group setting. But is this societal norm really benefiting us? Is this hesitation truly serving us or is it preventing us from being able to understand something that 84% of the world's population holds close to them?
Stop backing away from conversations about other religions and start making a sincere effort to understand, you may be surprised at how much you learn.
Many people don't even question the fact that we are so often reminded not to bring up faith. But understanding why faith is such a taboo subject for our society is key to moving towards having an easy conversation about it. What are we so scared of? Contrary to popular belief, discussing faith does not equate to enforcing a religion onto someone.
There is often a preconceived notion (and a totally valid one) that simply bringing up the idea of religion is an effort to convert someone. But why does this make us so uncomfortable?
Perhaps because faith is so deeply personal, something that we cling to in times of fear, that it shouldn't dare to be shared out loud. The hesitation is understandable, but it is certainly not serving us. No one should feel obligated to preach their beliefs to each person they meet, but as a society, we should eradicate the idea that it is socially unacceptable to share these beliefs, especially with someone who doesn't share them.
This fear to offend someone with religious beliefs again comes from the idea that it is something confrontational. This negative connotation prevents us from seeing the world for what it really is. Learning as children that faith and religion are meant to be kept to ourselves doesn't prepare us for knowledgeable conversations later in life. Enforcing this view of faith is really another form of tunnel vision and sets us back rather than moving us forward.
Moving past this perception of faith is not easy, it takes time, patience, and a willingness to learn. Opening up to these conversations has the potential to bring an abundance of knowledge and understanding. Being unafraid to have differing views and simultaneously being willing to accept these views as someone else's personal perception allows us to have more meaningful and honest conversations. Speak to someone about their belief in Islam, read Buddhist text, and you will find that the best way to nurture spiritual knowledge is to expand it.
Note: Another interesting aspect of faith in America is the discussion about its presence in public schools. For further reading on this topic, go here.