The Ultimate Human Race

running-a-race

Yesterday I was moving books. In my house, a monumental task. I am in the process of moving into my new office, but as I do not have the proper shelving yet, I was simply grabbing stacks books off the shelves and piling them, planning on going through them later.

And then I got to the shelf of religious books (yes, I organize my books according to type: YA, literary, classic, apocalyptic, biography, non-fiction, non-fiction life changing, etc…) and I had to pause. I couldn’t help but ask myself, why did I have these books?

One answer, was because about half of them were my father’s and in an effort to know the man I lost, I hoped to reconnect with him through his books. Books that sought to understand not only his own religion, Christianity, but Islam as well. In my lifetime he had gone from telling me, “We’re right and they’re wrong,” to seeking to understand the whys of the various religions. And his books reflected this, titles such as, “The Case for God,” “The Jesus Dynasty,” and “Muhammad.”

These books sat on a shelf beside my own books on religion, or, my books on anti-religion, such as Christopher Hitchens, “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” and “The Golden Compass.” (Okay, not a book on atheism per say, but a comment on it so fuel for the fire nonetheless.) Books I had planned on reading for the specific purpose to force my atheistic views on others, so I could prove to everyone else that I am right and they are wrong, or more specifically, that religion is wrong and everything that goes along with it.

I didn’t know I had bought these books for that purpose, at the time it was because they coincided with my views and I wanted to strengthen those views. So how better to know your side of the argument than to seek out more documentation to prove your point? Right?

Sure, if you want to remain separate from everyone else. If you want to hold fierce to your personal views and not consider any others. If you need fuel to stoke the fire of your righteousness in your point of view, if you need more points in which to throw at others faces and convince them that they are wrong.

And as I sat there staring at these books, the “Case for God,” and the cases against God, I was suddenly overcome with the awareness that none of it mattered.

Do you hear that? It doesn’t matter!

It doesn’t matter if you are Christian and I am not. It doesn’t matter if you believe in God or if you don’t. And wait…hold on a second, get ready for it….it doesn’t matter if you are a Muslim of not.

Now, those of you holding fast to your beliefs are probably feeling your body temperature ride, red spots are probably appearing on your cheeks and you’ve got many choice words to tell me how I don’t know what I’m talking about and that I have no right to tell you that your religion, your faith, doesn’t matter.

And I would have been the first person to have argued with myself. A few months ago I would have written this blog telling all you believers, in every scope, that you are wrong. Because that was important to me. I wanted you to agree with me. I wanted you to believe what I believed because I was so sure of my rightness, so sure that my way was the best way.

But here’s the thing; it’s all the same. Every single one of us are on the same path in our lives, we just think they’re different.

What? How can I say that my path is the same as these poor refugees leaving behind everything they had in order to live their own lives? How dare I sit in my comfortable house at my kitchen table and try to say I am on the same path as them? What about those terrorists that have caused all these problems in the first place? Are we on the same path? There is no way the Christian path is the same as the Muslim path as the Agnostic path. It’s just not possible, it can’t be.

Yes. They may look different. Details might vary from person to person, but we are all here for the same reason, for the same purpose. To live our lives the best that we know how. To learn what it is we came here to accomplish and go after that. Unfortunately, we misunderstand our purpose, we lose track of where we come from, and we think we are all different. We think our paths diverge from one another, we think, because our skin is different or our country of origin is different or we believe in different things, that we are not all walking along the same rocky, narrow, dirt trail through the woods. But we are, whether we want to admit it or not.

Let me try to explain myself. Picture the starting line of a run. It is a huge cluster of people, all ready to go. Everyone there for the same reason, to complete this run. Now, everyone may have different reasons for running; to lose weight, to push oneself, to cross it off a bucket list, to beat the others, to prove a point. But regardless of the whys for running, it doesn’t change the fact that they all converge on the exact same run.

Lets look at the runners for a moment. They are of varied ages, weights, shapes, sizes, fitness levels. Each of them bringing something different to their race. And for some, it isn’t even a race but simply something to finish, a hurdle to overcome. But they are all ready to begin. Just as each child comes into this world at different weights and times, skin colours and length, some missing limbs, some with life threatening illness, some with a head of hair and some without. Despite the differences, they all come into the world with the same needs, the same purpose. To live, to breathe, to eat, to poop, and most importantly, to be loved. Sometimes those needs can be met, sometimes they can’t. Just as that crowd of runners at the starting line are crouched, ready to begin. Some are blessed with more slow twitch fibers than others, some are blessed with a healthy body, some are not. Some will finish and some will not. But they are all going to run together just the same.

And the gun goes off (or whatever starts the race) it begins.

Some get out front right away. Others pace themselves, staying with the big cluster for the time being. Others are still trying to get over the starting line, having a late start for some reason or other.

For the most part, everyone is still more or less together.

But as the run goes on, the groups thins. Some will stay with the larger pack for the entirety of the run, drawing on the others to help them along. Others will find one that matches their own pace, their own goals, and they will join them. There will be the pack at the front, leading the race, most likely a smaller pack than the one in the middle. Then there will be other groups towards the back, those whose fitness levels just aren’t there, or their mental states can’t keep them going, or just slower runners. Then, as things happen, there will be those that drop out. Those that just can’t keep going for one reason or another, injury, pain, lack of energy. For some reason or other they have to leave the race.

There will be those who encourage everyone they see and those that keep to themselves. The longer the race goes on, the more the runners will get spread out and the less and less they’ll seem like a huge pack and more and more like individual runners. They might even forget that they are one of hundreds of others all trying to complete the same race and start thinking it is just them, that the only one who matters is themselves. Or, they will think they can’t do it alone. That it is too hard.

They will forget. They will forget about that starting line and how every single one of them are there for the same purpose of finishing the race. They will begin to see some fall out and some power through and some perform like they’d never done before and wonder why some fall behind and some push on ahead? Was it their training? Or will they be the one ahead of the others thinking, “See, it’s that low carb, high protein, high fat diet that is obviously better than the alternative.”

But the thing is, not every runner follows the same training protocol. Not everyone eats the same thing. Some focus on training alone, some focus on diet and training, some…well, you get my point. Thousands, perhaps millions of runners participate in races every year and not one single one of them trained exactly the same and yet, they are all running the same race; starting at the same place and running towards the same finish line. All of them hoping to do the very best they can with the tools that they have.

Is it not the same in life? Are we not at that very same starting line? Did not every single one of us come in the shape of these crying, screaming, wailing babies to run our own race of life? Just because we run in different packs, having trained in different ways, does not mean we do not have to cover the same ground, climb over the same obstacles.

Someone shared an article on Facebook the other day by Matt Walsh, a self-proclaimed “professional truth-sayer.” The moment I read that my stomach turned. Professional truth-sayer? How can anyone call themselves that when truth could be such a different thing for so many people? How is it that this one person is the one who knows the truth and finds it his profession to say so?

Now, normally, I do not read all the articles that come across Facebook, especially those written by anyone proclaiming they know the truth, because that would suggest they are right and the rest of us are wrong, and I do not like separations like that. But, it was an article justifying why good Christians can still be afraid of the Syrian refugees and for some reason I needed to read what he wrote. Why Christians as opposed to anyone else can still be “good” and afraid of the refugees. Why, a faith based on a man who said to love your neighbor as yourself, can justify fear of that very own neighbor.

I should have stopped reading instantly. At the title (You’re Not a Bad Christian Just Because You Want to Be Cautious About Syrian Refugees), at the professional truth sayer, at all of it. But I didn’t, I kept reading and I was more and more bothered by what he had to say.  This paragraph sums up his entire article; the hate in it, the judgment and the criticism in it, the plain ignorance of it.

“I don’t have the answers, and I know that no matter how you feel, America taking in a comparative handful of refugees won’t solve anything. The real problem is that the Muslim Middle East is a horrible, awful place, and it has been for a long time, and it will continue to be as long as Islam breeds violence and savagery. Even if we provide shelter to some limited number of lucky people, Islamic State will still exist, and even if Islamic State stops existing, some other fanatical group of Islamic marauders and killers will take its place. I don’t think anything will “solve” that until Jesus returns, but in the mean time, we do what we can to cope and fight back.” (Matt Walsh, theblaze.com)

Is this truth? Are these the words that come from a professional truth sayer? To speak such hateful words against another people, another religion, and to say that nothing will change until Jesus returns? Because there is only one man who can stop this? And until then, we must fight back?

This is why I do not want my books on religion anymore, or this is why I say it doesn’t matter. Because making the camps, my God, your God, no ones God, Christian, Muslim, causes a separation. Causes one to think we are different from one another.

Those people in the Middle East, the Muslim Middle East, are people, just as we are people. They wake up in the morning and do what they can to get through their day. Their path, their race, is just the same as ours. We are all trying to make it to the same finish line. The problem is, the race, the course, is getting rocky because we seem to think that we are separate from them. There is fighting amongst the pack because people like Matt Walsh, these professional truth sayers, are pointing fingers, are throwing stones at the other packs because they don’t like how they run.

No, I do not agree with what the terrorists are doing and I do not condone their actions. But I also do not agree with the backlash that has come as a result of their terror.

Those words, those hateful words against the Muslims that come from a “Good” Christian are an attack even if no blood has been shed, if no lives have been lost. They are no different than the words of the terrorists. Each group, each running pack, wanting the others to do it their way, to follow their method, unable to see that we are all of the same human race with the same end goal in mind.

Throughout history there have been extreme groups murdering and punishing others for not following their way of life and there will continue to be until we change. Until we stop separating us from them, good from bad, Christian from Muslim, believer from non-believer. Terrorizing is not the only way of forcing our beliefs on others. The simple act of buying books for the purpose of arguing that someone else is wrong is another way of going about it. Walking by another in the street and making a judgment on their choice of clothing is another way we do it. Being afraid of letting in refugees because they come from somewhere different than us is another way we propagate this separateness.

We cannot live our lives alone. We are all running the same race, and if those that are in need do not feel like they will get support and help from a loving, caring pack of runners, then they will find those who will help them. If we accepted everyone from the very start, if we understood and truly believed that we all come from the same place, that we all deserve the same treatment, the same resources, the same love, even if some might have different opinions than us or do things in a different way, then there would be no need for terrorists. There would be no need for extremists to show us the hatred in our own hearts because there wouldn’t be any. There would be no fuel for the hate groups because everyone would feel accepted and loved and have no need to turn to violence to be heard. That they are not right and we are not wrong just as they are not wrong and we are not right.

The more we see other human beings as something separate from us, something that has to be fought, the longer the fight will go on. A fight that would not exist if we would only stop and see that we are all heading in the same direction, even if our methods are different. A fight that would not exist if we would only stop trying to convince others that our way is better than theirs.

Every single time we turn our backs on a fellow human, a fellow human who only wants love and acceptance like the rest of us, every time we judge them for not thinking or being like us, we’ve drawn a line. And when you carve a deep enough line it becomes a cavern and people are going to fall in, people are going to break limbs, people are going to die. Sure, it might not be at your own hands, you may have only etched a shallow marking in the sand, barely visible. But the more and more marks that are made the deeper the wound gets, and when someone gets wounded enough, they will fight back. So before you take sides in this war on terrorism, think about your actions at home, at work, on social media sites. Ask yourself if you are truly accepting and acknowledging everyone around you, or if you’re just keeping to your own little pack and ignoring the others because that is what you know and what you know has to be right, right?

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