Each of us are born uniquely, to (usually) two unique parents (at some point in our conception there were two) who have been raised, and will raise each of us, in their own unique way. Patterns of nurture that are uniquely handed down one generation to the next are the beginnings, the formation and the foundation of our own unique cultural, social, emotional, political, psychological, sexual and spiritual encoding. We are the products of our environments.
So...why should we be surprised that with this unique set of coding we find ourselves living in a world FULL of individuals born of different social and religious beliefs? How is it that some people think that they have the right to enforce their own codes; their own set of beliefs on others? How is it that we can be tolerant of some spiritual practices and beliefs and not of others? How is it that some people just think they are RIGHT?
There is no being RIGHT with something as subjective as upbringing; in social or spiritual encoding.
This past week, CBC (Canada's Broadcasting Company...our national reporting system) aired a story about how most Canadian Universities are intolerant of Muslim beliefs or practices. Their story outlined the results of interviews made across the country and the results were this:
1. Most Muslim students felt that most social activities held on campus had beer/alcohol at them thus creating a situation where they were unable to attend.
2. The academic calendar/exam schedules did not take into account sacred Muslim holidays and celebrations.
3. Things like swimming....only one University in this country allows 1 hour of women-only swimming to accommodate Muslim females' code of modesty.
4. Generally, there is an intolerance for Muslims in Canadian Universities
When I heard this report, part of me wanted to stand up and say, "WHAT!?!?! How is it that I live in this civilized nation that does not support this minority?" Then the other part of me thought, "So...we should take into consideration Kwanzaa and most African celebrations and rituals? Aboriginal festivals/holidays and tradtions? Chinese New Year and other Chinese holidays? Or the regional festivals/traditions that mean something to Japanese cultures?" There's no smoking inside any public buildings in this country....what will become of smudging, which is sacred and vital to the spiritual and living practices our First Nation's people? What about the Pagan's who seriously want to jump around camp fires naked (and our social rules don't allow for it?)...what about the millions of other practices, holidays, beliefs that I'm not even coming close to addressing?
I found myself thinking...WHY is our entire calendar year based on the Judeo-Christian holiday's fused with the Roman calendar?...oh right...the Christians went out as Missionaries, carried out Holy Wars, won all those bloody wars (years ago) and established themselves as the powerhouse. Hmmmm...isn't this what's going on in the Middle East right now too (and has been for several decades)? Haven't they ALL (Christians, Muslims, Tsuti's, Samurai's, Korean Armies, etc, etc, oh and etc.) pillaged and plundered and beat people into subservience...that's how you win, apparently. At the end of the day, we all have beating hearts, we all have oxygenated red blood pumping through our bodies, we all cry, we all feel pride, we all get scared, we all need each other, we all have brains....So why do we pummel one another? Do we do things 'properly'?
What's right? Does 'properly' mean allowing for Christmas (which is actually a neo-pagan/Christian holiday and has very little to do with Christ) but not Ramadan or O Bon Dori, etc. ?
It's difficult to stand up and BE right about spiritual, ethical or social (even political) standards because those standards are as individual to us as are the 64 million chances of your DNA lining up the exact way that they do in order to create YOU, as you are.
Perhaps Universities need to cease with observing any and all spiritual and religious holidays and perhaps students need to inform their individual Professors of the time that they will need off from their studies, exams, projects and papers in order to facilitate their spiritual lives.
Or perhaps, we should implement ALL spiritual holidays and practices into the academic calendar year... and hope that there is still a day or two left for learning something, which last time I looked, is the reason we pay those exorbitant academic fees.