Friday, May 14, 2010

A Common Love Ethic

What do the religions of the world have in common? This was the discussion question for my World Religions class last night. The answers to this question had both convergence and divergence.

Some of the answers pointed to some very general common features of religions: a system of belief, a moral code and rituals. Most religions share these three features. But, beyond these generalities, what specifically do the religions of the world have in common?

The consensus answer for my class was: a love ethic. We couldn't come up with a religion among the nine we covered this semester that didn't have some version of the Golden Rule. We also saw common values like love, compassion and doing good.

While there is a wide variety of beliefs in the religions of the world, there seems to be an agreement that we should treat our fellow humans with dignity, respect and love. Obviously, we all fall short of the ideal of loving everyone. That's another common feature among the adherents of religions: we don't live up to the highest ideals of our chosen religion.

I like what the Dalai Lama once said, "The purpose of religion is to make us better people." Perhaps this is yet another common feature of the religions of the world.

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