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When an Open Mind is the Best Religion

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My cousin Sarah is Jewish. Because she is the only other girl cousin on my mother’s side, we have always been extremely close. As long as I can remember, family gatherings would always be spent with her and me in the back room, comparing stories of our whacked out families, planning heinous crimes to evoke on the grandparents, and giggling up a storm.

The differences in religions never seemed to matter to us. When I was younger, and still unquestioning of my own Christianity, there would be times where I would wish Sarah could come to church with me to see me perform in the Christmas play, but thoughts of my religion being better than hers, or even different from hers, never formed in my mind. Her family would celebrate Christmas with us, and we would celebrate Hanukkah with theirs.

I remember one of the first times I ever felt the condescending look of someone else at this “wrong” religion I was exposed to. I was in 4th grade, and had brought some of the gelt, or chocolate money, Sarah had given to me for lunch. As I explained to my friends where it had come from, I remember that my helper did not say anything. When I turned to her and said “My cousins gave this to me for Hanukkah,” she just smiled tightly and replied with “That’s nice, Hannah.”

This greatly angered me. My 10-year-old mind couldn’t understand why it was so bad to take part in other religion’s rituals. I had a hard time believing that someone could be so caught up in their own beliefs that they couldn’t accept those of other people. It made no sense to me.

As I got older, I began to question my own religion even more. I believed, more than anything, in an open mind. When I was in 8th grade, I attended Sarah’s brother’s Bar Mitzvah. Before I left, one of my friends told me how she didn’t agree with Bar Mitzvah’s because it is basically just a way to say that the child is now ready to marry, and that parents usually spend as much money on the ceremony as they would on a wedding. While I agreed with her in many respects, I asked her to please keep an open mind.

Today, freedom of religion is a very important thing to me. While I do not always agree with some aspects of certain religions, I find it hard not to respect those that practice theirs’ so strongly, while keeping an open mind about others. After all, what kind of world would we live in if we couldn’t have our own beliefs and tolerate those of others?



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This article has 6 comments. Post your own!

ArcaneGhost said...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm:
You know, this is all true. The biggest problem with multi-culturalism and differing beliefs are the people who can't cope with another person's religion.
 
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SeerKnowsBest said...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm:
I agree comepletely. Some people I know are very judgemental, and a small town in the south is where i live. I here when people act like that, and i just want to scream at them "They're still people too!!!!!"
 
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AaronLawrence said...
Dec. 24, 2010 at 11:18 am:
Very well written, it doesn't matter what religion anybody practices, or even if they don't, as long as they have an open mind to other people's cultures. 
 
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Hollyss said...
Dec. 21, 2010 at 3:56 pm:
I like this article very much. So many people have such difficulty accepting others, you can sometimes feel unaccepted. My best friend and I are different religions, but we're not bothered one bit. She and I will talk casually about what she believes, and we are able to respect each other's views. I don't believe in hating people for believing differently when we honestly don't know.
 
banana This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm :
thank you hollyss!
 
AaronLawrence replied...
Dec. 24, 2010 at 11:18 am :
Very well written, it doesn't matter what religion anybody practices, or even if they don't, as long as they have an open mind to other people's cultures.
 
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