The word Religion was derived from a latin word that means "restraint". That has always confused me, isn't religion supposed to be a part of us, where we enjoy and delve in the beauty that the creator has made for us then why does it mean "restraint"?
In today's world we look at religion as a set of rituals, beliefs and practices that are supposed to bring us closer to our creator or to our ultimate destination. Ever since man was created he was involved in worshipping something that he felt was far superior then him. The concept of good vs evil, life after death, reincarnation, monotheism vs polytheism etc. has been part of the many religions that this Earth has seen.
Majority of people on Earth believe in some kind of organized religion today. Yet most unrest in the world is also based on religion. The Crusades, the French Wars of religion, the killings of Buddhists in Burma, Taliban killings, the Jewish Holocaust, etc. are just a few instances where people were persecuted because of their religion.
Even though every religion has different beliefs, thoughts and practices -- they all preach one thing. The one common thread that pulls every religion together is compassion. I truly believe that compassion is what can save the world.
I was really inspired when I found out about an initiative that was created by famous author and religious scholar, Karen Armstrong. It is called the "Charter for Compassion". This charter has the same message that every religion preaches and believes in kindness and compassion. There are many other interfaith organizations like SARAH and URI that are doing fabulous work, but it seems like people's distrust of different religions has grown over the years.
When looking at all the bigger religions in the world, they all say something about compassion and treating others with kindness.
Christianity -- In everything, do to others, as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets (Jesus, Mathew 7:12)
Islam -- Not one of you truly believes, until you wish for others what you wish for yourself( Prophet Mohammad)
Jadaism -- What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary (Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat 31A)
Buddhism -- Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful (The Buddha Udana- Varga 5.18)
Hinduism -- This is the sum of duty : do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you (Mahabharata 5:1517)
My question to our leaders is that why can't we create a world that is full of kindness and compassion. No matter what religion we belong from, we all bleed, cry for our loved ones, we hurt, we love and we all want to live in harmony. Why can't we solve our issues through kindness instead of war? Why do so many innocent lives have to be killed before we realize what we are doing? If we look deep into every religion they all point at kindness towards mankind, animals and our environment. Yet as humans we don't respect either. So then what is the use of religion? Do we go through our daily religious rituals yet we can straight out hurt someone without even flinching, is that our religion?
I believe that the religion above all religions is Compassion. Religion means restraint -- restraint from treating others with disrespect and in an inhumane way. The only way we can change the world is through compassion!