We are born. We go to school. We go to church. In home, school, and church we learn right from wrong. We also learn what I’ll refer to as preferences. Our preferences include helpful, inspiring in-group data which family, teachers, and pastors have accepted into their own lives. Unfortunately it also includes out-group information, some factual, some fictional.

There was a time when everyone born in Sweden had to be Lutheran. It was the state religion. The Irish are typically Catholic. Indians are mostly Hindu. Pakistanis are mostly Islamic. Many people in our southern states are Baptist. The list goes on. If your parents were Democrats they wanted you to be a Democrat; if Republican, they wanted you to be Republican. As we grew up, some of our ideas changed. But the truth is we tend to become like the people we associate with. They become our in-group.

Did you ever try to change someone from a Democrat to Republican, or vice versa? How about changing a Baptist to a Catholic? These discussions usually result in hurt feelings, possibly even anger. We end up having bad opinions about the ‘out-group’ person and they don’t like us either.

The best way to handle the situation is to, not only recognize, but to expect there will be differences in political and religious beliefs. We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. We shouldn’t take others too seriously either. Differences in beliefs are the result of how our brains function. Their main goal is survival, not peerless social interaction, and certainly not the conversion of everyone else to our point of view. Remember, that would mean all 7 billion of us would have the same belief in God and politics. Talk about a miracle!!

The question of who is right and who is wrong will never be settled to everyone’s satisfaction. The true value of our beliefs is what effect they have on us individually. Our beliefs should bring us the kind of peace, love and harmony that will overflow through our actions and speech. If all faiths and political beliefs had this effect on us our world would be heaven on earth.

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