Spirituality and society today is quite the divisive subject. People tend to fall into three categories when it comes to their spirituality. They are either indifferent to the whole thing, and merely choose to practice in silence, completely dismissive or fanatical.
The fanatical ones are the ones that got constant media coverage, from the extremists in the middle east, to the Christians that whip and crucify themselves in the Philippines, and others. They are the ones that society will more or less turn to in order to identify what the aspects of that particular faith’s entails. Whilst this can be quite unfair, perception becomes reality, when you perceive a certain faith to engage in the same acts repeatedly and receive coverage for it, it is very easy to believe that these are the actions of the faithful majority rather than the extremist minority.
The dismissive ones are usually the ones who will religiously argue (quite ironically) that a belief to any deity at all is ludicrous and there is no paradise, that life after this one is a childish fantasy, and that a man is a fool if he thinks any different. The silent ones, are the ones that are found to be more acceptable by society, since they keep their practice to themselves and do not bother anyone else with it.
To me, each three is at fault for the moral ambiguity that plagues society, we live in an emotionally driven, hedonistic society, wherein we are educated to believe, that desire, and positive emotions are to be cherished and place above all things. To give a brief example, should a child misbehave, and the parent discipline the child with a stern word, it is more likely that the parent will have been adjudged to be in the wrong, since the child’s feelings have been upset.
We live in a modern society where difference of opinion, where political correctness is pushed to such an extent, that any opinion beyond the “accepted” one is considered offensive. The amount of times I have seen the word racist being used inappropriately, to the point where the very meaning of the word is misused and distorted, merely for sharing a different opinion is beyond ridicule. The worst thing is, that usually, nothing offensive has been said at all.
There seems to be a fear, an assumption that differences means division, and that division breeds negativity. Such is the fear of causing offence, that in some extreme cases, lives have been damaged beyond repair because of it.
What has this all got to do with Spirituality then? Short answer? Everything. Acceptance of a hedonistic view on life (essentially, if it feels good, do it) has caused a sense of moral ambiguity within society. Happiness has been placed upon an alter with such fervour, that we all seem willing to sacrifice all we can for it. This has caused a decrease in what we consider moral behaviour. My goodness, we have reached a point in society where 1400 girls were abused in Rotherham, England, and the authorities sat back and did nothing for years out of fear of offending sensitivities and being called racists. That in my opinion is ludicrous.
When Spirituality is taken out of the national imprint, the moral backbone of our society is uprooted and removed altogether. What people do not understand is that Spirituality provides a strong moral compass for which to guide yourself by. Christianity has bred within me from a very young age a code of morals and ethics that I adhere to as best I can, and morals and ethics that I will hitherto pass on to my children. Of course there is the other extreme wherein Spirituality and faith becomes a cover, an excuse for bloodshed and war. Strike the right balance between Spirituality and society, and it can be very beneficial, it can give society a moral compass.
I believe in Christ, and yes I realise some people may be offended by that, honestly, I don’t care. I will offer my opinion and my reason why I believe in Christ should someone ask me why, and I will also respect the belief system that others hold dear. However, I wonder if that stance that I have taken has affected my Spiritual life by allowing society to determine just how I practise my faith. That is more to do with my own personal struggles than society within itself, as I often guilt myself over as to whether I have done enough for my own faith.
The truth is that I have no real solution to the issue of Spirituality and society, it is after all, a rather complex and controversial subject. On the one hand, should you have a completely non-denominational culture, you risk losing out on the sense of morality that a faith can provide. Selfish and morally ambiguous actions ensue, which causes a deterioration of social values and actions that were hitherto unacceptable and unthinkable decades ago, becoming the norm. On the other hand, to allow fanatical spirituality to control a culture, you end up with a theocracy wherein extremism, bloodshed, violence, and abuse becomes the norm, where the scriptures of your faith are twisted to suit the needs of the political establishment of that culture.
Spirituality is a complex, deeply personal thing, yet because it permeates our lives, it also affects the society we live in. With that in mind, use the morality that is eschewed from it, allow compassion, grace, kindness, hope and love to flow from within you, and use it, to help those around you. Like that both you, and society in itself, will be all the better for it.
Until next time,