December 29, 2011

Voices of Faith: From your faith perspective, what surprises you most about humanity?

Peace still elusive

Arvind Khetia, engineer and a Hindu: The state of human society is determined by the extent of its adherence to ethical living, by the wisdom and character of people in power and by the quality of social justice.

Presently, these aspects are mostly negative, as human society has remained entrenched in what Mahatma Gandhi described as the seven deadly sins, namely: “Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, business without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice and politics without principles.” Consequently, we are witnessing a global culture of excessive materialism, greed, corruption, violence and environmental crisis.

Therefore, there is no peace as evidenced by worldwide social unrest due to increased economic disparity and prejudice based on race and religion. It is surprising that although there is an abundance of religious fervor, the human mind has not evolved as far spiritually as it has in material sciences.

The Bhagavad-Gita teaches that there cannot be any peace in human life without spiritual wisdom. In one of the Upanishads, it is said that, “Humanity may roll up space like a piece of leather; still there will be no end of human sorrow without the realization of one’s inner spiritual nature.” For humanity to be at peace, the fulfillment of life should coincide with spiritual values and not with material values. Then, our actions will be in harmony with the well-being of all.

Struggle continues

Rushdy El-Ghussein, former president of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City, Mo.: From an Islamic perspective, nothing about the state of humanity surprises me. Religion reminds us that life is a struggle between good and evil, holy and unholy, sacred and secular.

The purpose of religion is to guide us through the maze of life and to choose between good and evil. The blessed ones are those guided by the messages received by God’s true prophets. Prophet Muhammed taught his followers a prayer asking Allah to protect them from misleading and being misled, from causing ignorance and being ignorant, from oppressing and being oppressed and from humiliating others and being humiliated. Muslims are taught to be truthful, honest, humble and respectful.

Muhammed also made predictions describing events at the end of time, which also describe people’s actions when God is ignored: “A time will come when a man will not care how he gets things, whether lawful or unlawful.” “The murderer will not know why he has committed the murder, and the victim will not know why he was killed.” “Ignorance, adultery, and drinking of wine will be … on the increase.” “Stinginess will dominate and … bloodshed will take place frequently.” “Children will have so little respect for their mothers.”

God’s message is clear, but we often follow our own desires rather than submitting to the ideals of belief that guide us towards moderation and a balanced life. Since each individual is responsible for himself before God, this struggle will continue to the end of time.

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