True Religion (And Reality) is in the Eye of the Beholder

“Mrs. Flynn says great minds think alike. But all minds are great, and all minds don’t think alike.” — Maxine, age 6. 

A person's reality, like a person's mind, is such a singular thing.

I might try really hard to convince others that my way is the best way, but my way is often based in my reality — and my reality belongs to me alone.

It would be so much easier if everyone had the same vantage point on the universe. If the universe were like a giant eye chart, with a big E at the top of the chart and one of those teeny, tiny, you've-got-to-be-kidding--no-one-can-really-read-that lines at the bottom. Only no one's vision would need correcting because we'd all see the letters just as crisply and clearly as the next guy.

Religious belief is like eyesight. Not only because belief varies so much from person to person, but because we don't feel we have much choice in the matter. As Richard Dawkins says, if you’re choosing to believe, it’s not really a belief. True belief is something rooted in our deepest psyche. It takes ahold of us and won’t let go. It becomes inherent in how we see the world.

Like vision.

So, tell me, whose vision of reality is 20/20? Who looks at the world and sees exactly what is there — nothing more, nothing less?

Some of us? All of us? None of us?

I could make a pretty strong argument for all three.

So why are we so determined to fight each others’ realities? What good does it do?

Just because a person believes something to be true doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him or her. And not believing doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me.

One of my main focuses with this blog (which is three months old on Wednesday, by the way! Champagne for everyone!) is to remove the rancor from our conversations with children. Whether you’re a nonbeliever or a open-minded believer, I hope you’ll encourage your kids to be true to themselves, to never be ashamed of what they believe, to value the unique viewpoints they bring to the world. I hope you’ll tell them what my daughter told me a few weeks ago: “All minds are great, and all minds don’t think alike.”

Our versions of reality are different, yes, but this is not something to be feared or fought.

And to embrace it is, I believe, the truest test of our own religious tolerance. After all, if we don’t punish our kids for seeing the world through their own eyes, then we’re much less likely to punish strangers who do the same.