Wednesday, September 17, 2014


by Mary Elizabeth Raines

Throughout time, clashes over spiritual beliefs have been responsible for more cruelty, suffering and murder than anything else. It is baffling that people are willing to hurt and butcher one another simply to prove that their concept of God is the right one!

I had always thought that I was different, and considered myself to be a tolerant and fair person who was above such nonsense...until a time some years ago when I found myself swept up into a disagreement with a friend about some differences in our spiritual beliefs and practices. We argued via email. It was a sad and stupid disagreement that probably destroyed a beautiful friendship.
Curiously, my friend and I actually hold spiritual beliefs that are nearly identical. It turns out that this isn't unusual.
The folks we love to hate in the name of God are often those who have beliefs that are close to our own. For the most part, we don't waste our time rampaging against people with religious views that are alien and weird compared to ours. No suicide bomber is going to try to prove his point by blowing himself up in the marketplace of an obscure New Guinea tribe who worships tree gods.
No, we turn to our neighbors when we want to wage religious wars. The most horrific acts of violence are inflicted upon people who almost believe the same things we do. That's when we really get upset. Look at the conflicts between the Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East, or the bloodshed throughout European history between Protestants and Catholics.

Christians, Jews and Muslims, who have battled one another for centuries, share many core beliefs and even honor some of the same spiritual figures, like Abraham and Moses.
Back to my friend: I was furious that something as sacred as my connection to that which I choose to call God had been judged and found lacking. Even after our e-conversation ended, my mental chatter continued. Loudly. A tape-loop in my mind replayed the specifics of our differences over and over again. I defended myself mentally against what I perceived as his attack and, in my imagination, let him know, point by point, precisely how wrong he was. How dare he criticize my relationship to the divine??!!??
I was the one who was RIGHT, doggone it! My thoughts churned faster and faster with all the reasons I was right. My spinning mind kept me awake that night, and continued pestering me the following day, driving me to distraction.

And then I remembered a little saying I heard once:

The mental hospitals are full of people who were RIGHT!
Oh. Oops. Wait a minute.

There seems to be something inbred that demands that we win at all costs, especially when it concerns our spiritual beliefs; perhaps it's a survival technique dating back to our hominid days on the savannahs, or a way of determining who is the alpha of the pack. Hoping, however, to be vindicated and proven right is definitely not a path that leads to security or peace of mind 
in today's world.

One of my friends, who has since crossed over, had a motto. She used to be a long-distance truck driver, and she learned this on the highway. She was an amazing, loving person who lives by her motto. It is a great motto. Think of the suffering, both on an international and a personal level, that could be escaped by adopting it:

"I would rather be kind than be right."

     (c) 2011, Mary Elizabeth Raines

See Mary Elizabeth Raines' newest novel, UNA, available in paperback or Kindle.

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About Me

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Mary Elizabeth (Leach) Raines is the author of a collection of quirky short stories ("The Man in the GPS and Other Stories"), novels ("UNA" and "The Secret of Eating Raspberries"), and nonfiction ("How to Help and Heal with Hypnosis: An Advanced Guide to Hypnotism" and "The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past-Life Regression: A Handbook for Real People.") In addition to writing, Mary Elizabeth teaches hypnosis as the director of the Academy for Professional Hypnosis Training. She is a columnist for an international hypnosis magazine, and in the past she was a newspaper reporter and features writer. She has won a number of awards for her writing. Mary Elizabeth attended New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in the 1960s as a piano performance major. Later she pursued independent film studies at UW-Oshkosh. In her free time, Mary Elizabeth plays the piano, creates fractal art, cooks, paints, dabbles with computers, acts, gardens organically, and keeps bees.