Do Only the Good Die Young?

May 20, 2008
By Claire Morgan, Valdosta, GA

Have you ever been in love? Wow! It’s all you can think about! You see her in the hallway- there is a glow about her. The world stops. You fumble around, searching for words. You’ve rehearsed the conversation millions of times. You might only have one chance. You slowly approach her. Wow, those eyes- she’s perfect. You open your mouth to speak. Wait a second, what were you going to say again?
“Hey”? “Hello”? “How are you”?
The words swim around in your brain. Why can’t you remember? You just glance at her loveliness, and with an awkward smile, she drifts by you once more. You ask yourself, “What was I thinking? Talk to her? Yeah, right.” But then you see an old friend walk by.

“This is perfect!” you think- idea one million and one. Your friend has always been there for you: in preschool when you broke your blue crayon, in second grade with the big class bully, in sixth with your first crush, as you made the basketball team in eighth grade, first string! You walk up to her. It’s a casual conversation, no biggie. She smiles, saying, “What’s up?” You casually respond, “Well, there’s this girl.” And, without much resistance, she agrees to talk to her.

All around the world, differences in religion cause division and prejudice because they are misunderstood or misinterpreted. Many times the devout members of a faith are the most at fault, as they look for differences in doctrine and beliefs rather than similarities. In southern Georgia, for example, a tradition of preconceived notions about Catholicism, a branch of Christianity, causes misunderstanding because of ignorance.

A key concept is the misunderstanding of the relationship between Catholics and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary, to Catholics, is an old friend. Though she does not inspire that complete awe we feel with Jesus, she is always there to talk to Jesus for us when we can’t “find the guts” to go directly to Him. As proclaimed in a common prayer, the Hail Mary, “…the Lord is with you…pray for us.” To Catholics, Mary serves as an old best friend, one who is not afraid to talk to her Son about what we may need.

Unfortunately, many see statues, prayers, and songs about Mary as forms of worship, not as ways to honor the mother of God. This attitude can only come from ignorance, as those who are open-minded risk understanding a faith not very different from their own and can contemplate the meaning of the symbols. The attitude is not necessarily converting to a different religion. Different religions are points of view, and, by understanding every opinion, an individual can make a well-informed and self-reliant decision.

But wait, you may say. For love, there must be a relationship. If you cannot establish that relationship, love cannot exist. Yes, the individual’s unity with the “Oversoul” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) is vital to discovering your truth, the same way as you yourself must eventually talk to “the girl of your dreams.” Still, however, misunderstanding and loss of trust during difficult times in the relationship may require a mediator, help, and guide.

When studying religion, do not be afraid to ask questions before misjudgment. Persecution exists in many parts of the world and with many religions, not just within the branches of Christianity. Though everyone’s truth may be different from your own, do not be afraid to understand. You may discover your own truth is a part of theirs. Now you have heard one truth. Accept it or not, but enjoy your freedom from ignorance.

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