I remember when the only thing I had to worry about was whether the other kids liked me or not and whether I had acne that day or not. Yes. They were odd years. Being a teenager is tough. But ignorance is also bliss. There are so many things I didn’t know then and sometimes wish I could unlearn. Of course, today is different for teenagers. With so many “anti-something” groups, there’s always some controversy about something.

Even today’s teenagers have to figure out whether they want to eat organic or not organic food. Or whether they should have regular beef or the torture free variety. As I recall, the beginning college years is when all of those choices become “important” to us. This brings us to my point. There are so many “yes” or “no” choices out there that people have really made it impossible to like each other:

  • “Oh my. You were such a nice person but then I found out you don’t care if your beef is tortured or not.”
  • “I love you. But you’re a Democrat. I can’t love a Democrat. Goodbye.”
  • “You’re Southern Baptist. I’m Free Will Baptist. It just wouldn’t work.”
  • “Your mom worked for the steel mill. I can’t stand feminists. We can’t be friends anymore.”
  • “Wait. You’re from Texas!? I can’t be seen with you.”

“But Mike. Those are absurd. I’d never be like that.”

Really? Are you sure. Have you ever seen someone with a tattoo and immediately decided they were “bad news”? Or maybe someone with a Mohawk haircut walks by and you get freaked out? Or maybe you read my “taboo” post and decided you didn’t like me? These are only examples, but you should get the point.

The problem is people don’t have tolerance anymore. According to Merriam-Webster, a definition of “tolerance” is:

2 a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own

What’s wrong with other people’s beliefs? Do they affect you? Is the fact that someone somewhere believes in reincarnation going to affect your own beliefs of what happens after you die? Tolerance is necessary to become an informed individual. I know. I know. I said there are things I wish I could unlearn. But that was a fib. I like knowing things. I think knowing things is important. How can you truly say that you don’t agree with someone else’s beliefs if you don’t even know or understand those beliefs? Isn’t it possible that your beliefs and theirs are more alike than you may think?

I’ll give a quick religious example:

  1. The Hindu religion is based on reincarnation. A quick way of saying it is that if your soul has not learned everything it needs to learn it is sent back in another physical form to learn more. Once your soul is fully knowledgeable, it goes to live with God.
  2. The Christian religions believe there is a hell that people who are non-believers go to when they die. Hell is a place of suffering. They also believe there is a Heaven where people who believe go when they die. There is no suffering there.

With those two concepts in mind, wouldn’t coming back to live on Earth be a form of suffering? And if you’re always a non-believer and never learn enough to believe1, would you not suffer for eternity in a physical body on Earth? Couldn’t hell be what we experience in our physical bodies? And then when we believe, we go to Heaven?

I’m not expressing my own beliefs here. I’m playing the “what if” game. But there is a possibility that those things could be true. I think it scares people to think that their beliefs may be “wrong” and it makes them go nuts when someone challenges them. But, again, “what if” there’s no such thing as a right or wrong answer?

I’m not saying I’m right. What I am saying is I’m giving you something to think about. Have a mature debate with your friends about it. Listen to what they say. Listening is a really good skill to use to gain knowledge. Speaking of listening, the next time you see a tattooed guy with a Mohawk, try asking him what he believes. He may surprise you.

  1. in any of your lives []