The concept of the Southern Utah Spiritual Round Table is to present answers to a challenging spiritual question from a group of four southern Utah spiritual leaders from the Interfaith Counsel. That way, you get multiple perspectives and potential answers to mull over in regards to the question of the week.
This week’s question is “How can I develop an appreciation for the beliefs of others without devaluing my own beliefs?”
From Unity Center of Positive Living spiritual leader Carmella Fitzpatrick
Simply trust yourself. If you don’t take a risk to see if you can trust yourself, you’ll never know that you can.
It takes courage to be open to ideas and beliefs as it is usually more comfortable to stay within our own realm. Quite frankly, it is usually those of our own belief who tend to make us feel guilty for being open. Do you let others tell you what to think? Or afraid of people thinking negatively? Just continue to know who you are and what you want to believe.
As humans, we tend to fall into the trap of stereotyping. The best approach I can suggest as to how to develop an appreciation for the beliefs of others is to approach them as if you worked in the human resource department where your job is to hire the best candidate. Then you are looking at that person first for the gifts they may have to contribute to the whole, along with their beliefs.
I want to commend you on this! As it is becoming clear that in order to build communities that are successful at improving conditions and resolving problems, we need to understand and appreciate many cultures, establish relationships with people from cultures other than our own, and build strong alliances with different cultural groups. This builds cultural competence and diversity in building communities.
Being said, it is only natural then to expect to be accepted for who you are, and what you believe as well. (I, for one, still enjoy saying “Merry Christmas!” In the holiday season, despite the scared look on people’s faces.)
From Southern Utah Community of Christ lay leader Nancy Ross
I think that knowledge is key here. Learning about another faith doesn’t require me to adopt those ideas, but it helps me to better understand and appreciate people in my community. In my experience, learning about the beliefs of others also helps me to define and articulate my own beliefs. It does not diminish them.
From Free Spirit Community spiritual leader Cynthia Cashin
This is a great question, and one that if we ask ourselves deeply will help move us into greater understanding and compassion for those of different traditions and belief systems and propel humanity forward toward the peace that we deserve.
At Free Spirit Community, we honor, embrace, and support a wide variety of belief systems, including those who do not ascribe to any particular dogma or belief. I am one of those people whose spiritual beliefs are ever changing and evolving. My experience has been that this flexibility has made me more open to listening to other peoples’ spiritual views, even allowing me to incorporate some new ideas into my own daily practices. This openness has allowed me a greater and deeper connection with others that may not have been available to me had I remained rigidly fixed in one particular belief that I maintained was the right way or the only way.
It has been my experience as a spiritual leader that at the core of every religion, tradition, or spiritual practice is love and kindness. These core values, however packaged, shine through the beliefs and stories that surround them that can cause separation among us.
Take the time to get to know others of different faiths and beliefs. If you do, I believe that you will experience the sharing of loving kindness and truly enrich your life by recognizing and experiencing the blessing that that we are all connected as One.