In "Voices of Faith," religious leaders respond to readers' questions.
Know life's purpose
Arvind Khetia, engineer and a Hindu: The quality of one's life is determined by the quality of one's mental pursuits. Thus, the Bhagavad-Gita defines two types of people as "those who strive for higher values and those who strive for sensory values."
Those who pursue sensory values succumb to every allurement of the mind and, according to the Gita, "They do things they should avoid and they avoid things they should do."
The entertainment industry exploits this weakness of the human mind and lures people to emulate their ways. Unfortunately, an excessive emphasis on the material way of life compromises human values and tempts people to follow such frivolous pursuits.
To walk in the footsteps of the virtuous is not easy. To emulate holy people requires inner transformation and, according to the Gita, depends on "self-control to concentrate one's energy of the mind and the senses to understand the true purpose of human life."
Hinduism emphasizes the importance of holy company (satsang) to cultivate and sustain higher spiritual values. From the sages of ancient India to Mohandas Gandhi in the present time, the spiritual heritage of Hindus has been blessed and nourished by many holy people.
More blessing will come to society when people's minds and the senses are disciplined and tuned to emulate genuine holiness wherever it is. Most important, these ideals should be taught early on by parents, schools and religious institutions.
Be a good role model
Rushdy El-Ghussein, former president of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City: "We" cannot do anything to make other people do what they do not want to do.
What we can do is become ourselves people of faith who exemplify and encourage ideals of morality, courage, honesty and commitment to the love of God and obedience to his message.
We should cherish and honor heroes who show courage and wisdom, such as the prophets of God — Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them all. These prophets strived to save their communities and humanity. Their message was universal and should appeal to those who are willing to look for value over appearance, substance over show and quality over quantity.
We live in times that are very toxic to ourselves and our families and children. What can be pointed out to others is that although the lifestyle of entertainers seems bright and exciting and attractive, what often comes of it is arrogance and pride, extravagance and wasted wealth, immoral relationships and broken marriages, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.
Our society needs people at all levels of leadership, from homes to schools to business to social service to government, to practice and demonstrate the values of faith and right action and to influence others to the good as well. "We" must be the ones to do this.
"Verily God will not change the condition of a people until they change themselves" (Qur'an 13:11).