A very good friend of mine calls himself a humanist. It was pretty easy for one to notice his aversion to religion and God but in order to be sure, l asked him.
“What is your religious belief?” I’d prodded. “Christian, Muslim, Traditionalist? “
“What do you think?” He responded.
“I think you are an atheist. You sound like one who doesn’t believe in the existence of God.”
“You are totally wrong,” he laughed. “I am not an unbeliever. I believe God exists but not in the manner most of y’all religious folks do. “
“What are you then?”
“I’d like to refer to myself as a humanist. I am neither Christian, Muslim nor Traditionalist. I am simply a humanist.”
“How do you mean?”
“I believe that most of the world’s problem today is as a result of religion. Remove religion and there probably would be no humans killing each other because of differences in beliefs. Remove religion and the world would have a better chance at reaching world peace. Do away with religion and the masses, especially in Nigeria, would go out to elect credible leaders that would move the country forward. Not this nonsense they do based on religious lines. Take out religion and people would love and care for each other on the basis of humanity. People only care for each other across religious lines more than anything else. That’s not who l am May. I see everyone around me as human first. When l extend a helping hand, I don’t see religion. I see humanity first. I am human first before anything else. I am a humanist. I think you should be one too.”
Somehow, he made a lot of sense. Having grown up with a clergyman father, a part of me was surprised that l even agreed with him at all. The other part, the one that holds unto religion as the only pathway to the God, that l know, hesitated a bit.
Years down the line, l totally agree with my friend. We should all be humanists. Our religious beliefs are a result of indoctrination anyway. So why can’t we be humanists?
No one teaches us to be humans. It comes with our nature. But from the moment we are born, our spiritual destinies are chosen for us hinged on the religious beliefs of our parents.
My father was a Muslim. Shortly before l was born, he converted. He went ahead to become a clergyman. I grew up with the tag of a “pastor’s child.” Everything l believe today about God and the world, is by virtue of the fact that l was born a Christian. I believe in the trinity. I believe Jesus is the son of God. I believe the only way to heaven is through him.
What if my father hadn’t converted? What if He was still a practicing Muslim when l was born and all through my formative years? You do realize that my beliefs would have been totally different, right?
My outlook on life would have been different too.
Same can be said of every other person who has practiced one form of religion or the other from birth. We didn’t get to choose our religion. We were born into it. By the time we turned adults, we had settled into an indoctrinated idea of what God and religion is. We had been taught that our religion was the best and humans should be treated preferentially if they practiced a religion same as ours.
There is a lot of hate for other humans because of religion and l daresay that is not right. Why should a set of beliefs chosen for us, determine how we relate with other humans? Why do we allow those beliefs be the reason why we go to war against other humans?
According to the Pew Research Centre, in 2018,” more than a quarter of the countries in the world experienced a high incidence of hostilities motivated by religious hatred, mob violence that was related to religion, terrorism and harassment of women for violating religious codes.”
It is sad that religion which should promote peaceful coexistence has become what it is. A tool for violence, oppression and hatred for other humans.
For the sake of humanity, let us put our different religious beliefs aside and embrace one another in genuine love and brotherliness.
I really don’t care what religion it is you practice. I am not asking you to let go of your beliefs either. All l am saying is, before religion, we are humans first. The world is full of so much hate and strife. You may not agree with me but l dare to say that religion is the major culprit.
When are we going to start putting our religious differences aside to be replaced by our humane side first? The world would be a better place if we could do just that, don’t you agree?
It doesn’t matter what religion we practice. In fact, forget religion. We should all be humanists.
It’s a brand new week. Whatever you do, don’t forget to be a humanist first.