Right vs. Beliefs

You don’t have to be a political scientist to know that there is a huge divide between party lines in this country.

We have always had a two party system. While there were some obvious differences in politics, it didn’t keep people from respecting each other’s views and having intelligent discussions, let alone dinner together.

But nowadays there seems to be an impenetrable wall that’s gone up, with neither side ceding. What has changed that has caused us to become so divisive?

There are many factors that contribute to this schism, without a sure fire culprit.

But there is something I think is glaringly obvious; we have confused our beliefs with our rights.

If I tell you what my beliefs are, does that make you obligated to live by them? If what I’m doing doesn’t have a direct effect on your life, are you within your rights to stop me?

There are two hot-button topics that seem to draw the most powerful reaction from people; abortion and gay rights.

It’s understandable that if you have a strong religious background and that background includes a belief that abortion and the homosexual lifestyle are both sins, you would have a powerful reaction to these subjects.

However, does that give you the right to dictate that others should also live by your beliefs?

Here’s the difference between rights and beliefs; if a homosexual chooses to live their life openly, loving who they love and working and shopping and living their life, they’re not really hurting you, are they? Their living their life doesn’t affect your freedom to live yours. You may not like the way they live and your religion may have taught you that the way they live is a sin, but their choices are just different than what you believe, they’re not inhibiting your right to live your life as you see fit.

It’s the same with abortion. You may believe it’s the worst sin of all, but someone having an abortion doesn’t affect you, does it? It doesn’t infringe upon your right to not have an abortion, does it?

I was raised a Christian and we were taught the teachings of Jesus. He said, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged.’ He demonstrated this tenet on multiple occasions. His example over and over was one of compassion and forgiveness, without judgment or condemnation.

I can respect your commitment to your beliefs. The big question is; can you respect mine? Can you acknowledge that we are all human beings put here by the Divine Creator and have as much right to make our own life choices as you do? Do you honestly believe you were put here to be judge, jury and rule enforcer for the rest of the population?

The good news is you will not have to answer for anyone else’s choices. Those of us who believe that there’s an afterlife can all agree that we will be asked only to account for our own life, can’t we?

If someone believes they have the right to live an openly gay lifestyle, and it turns out you’re right and they’re wrong and there is a God who thinks it’s a sin, isn’t that between them and God? Why do you feel compelled to step in where you clearly are not culpable?

This is where the big divide comes in, the confusion between rights and beliefs. My rights may not jive with your beliefs, but it doesn’t directly affect how you live your life. You may not like seeing gays expressing themselves in public, you may think abortion is a sin, but someone exercising their right to them will not keep you from living your life according to your beliefs.

On the other hand, if your beliefs are so strong that you feel a need to stop me from living my life as I see fit, then you are infringing on my rights. Someone can live their life as a gay person or a woman having an abortion without stopping you from believing what you believe. But when your beliefs compel you to keep someone else from exercising their right to live their life as they choose, that’s when the problems start.

Beliefs are taught to us early and we hold fast to them. We are programmed as children regarding what is right and wrong, good and bad, sin and holy. But do we ever stop to examine what we believe and why we believe it?

Why do we get so angry when someone makes choices for their lives that we don’t agree with, especially when they will have no direct effect on our own lives? That’s the question we should all be asking ourselves…

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