After traveling more than 70 countries through the past 15 years, I’ve still not lost my curiousness. For me, it’s all about people; encounters with humans I’d otherwise probably not interact with, being exposed to new insights and different perspectives. Learning about everyday life, development and history that has shaped cultures and societies. Exploring the differences, gaining inspiration – and always reminded of how we share more common values than differences.. Regardless of nationality, religion and politics.
We’re entering the Easter week, which for me is much more about family and closeness than about religion, as I don’t follow any religion.
But today, waiting to board the flight back home from Kyiv, I had a really nice encounter that inspired me, and that I thought worth sharing.
On our way to the gate, we saw a big group of people praying. Recognizing them as Jews, due to the Kippas, we still got curious as there were some elements I’ve never seen before. So we sat down and watched them undergo their prayer ritual, and started talking to one of the girls in the group to learn more.
They were a group from N.Y. heading for Israel and the annual Passover, which I never actually have reflected much on. What a beautiful tradition of commemorating ancestors way back in history… Her storytelling gave me goosebumps all over. And she explained the orthodox tradition of tefillin, 2 small boxes; one held in hand, the other placed on the head and attached with leather straps wrapped 7 times around the arm. The purpose is to bind their mind and emotions to God, and the 7 wrappings symbolizes to some 7 primary emotions or 7 attributes.
In light of the Israel-Palestine conflict we discussed how external & collective symbols and actions have a value as they point our attention to focusing on some key elements. But also that these actions can’t be seen as an indicator of the level of a person’s actual dedication to doing good in society.
In many cases, rather the opposite, people doing externally visible actions without following the golden rule or showing compassion in their everyday lives. It’s such an oxymoron how religion both hold the basic solutions for doing so much good, and at the same time attracts people aiming to gain power, enrich themselves and divide humans…
Our talk landed into the Sabbath traditions, and this is where this post gets to the point of what I wanted to share;
In a world with so much happening so fast, huge overload of stuff requiring your attention from all directions (and a combination of extreme digital connectivity combined with human disconnection), I think the idea and concept of a day dedicated to inward reflections and rest is more relevant than ever.
And it doesn’t require being linked to one specific religion. Christians have Sunday, Jews have Saturday, Muslims have Friday. Each with different traditions and routines to collect your thoughts, re-assess what’s your priorities and consider how you bring value to society.
As my generation and the younger ones withdraw more and more from the established religions (either because of individualism or just because old religions have become a symbol of power abuse or leaders who care more about themselves than their community), I wonder if we will see more and more micro religions or crossovers?
And while the collectiveness and timelessness of religions is quite beautiful, and the golden rule in many different sentences form the basics for most of them, there’s also something I have a huge problem with. The way many people use their faith to create an “us and them” divide, and setting themselves above others – claiming they and their God own a single truth. Instead of accepting that maybe we believe in the same force of good and self-development for contributing and filling our role in society – but we’ve just named it in different ways and tied different traditions to our thoughts based on when, where or how we grew up…
For me, I’m definitely not joining a religion nor heading for Sunday mass in church. But I’m considering taking back Sunday. Hacking the best of several religions – consciously allocating a day to stop, think, reflect, based on the basic common concept linking most religions.
I’ve never actually considered having a day for quietness, simple slow living, detached from modern technology. But it seems so healthy – just to reflect on the world, society, and how I can bring value. Perhaps write, or just be in the nature. And being with friends & family, but with a more conscious focus. What do you think?