These black&white's are from a graduation party, which I shot in the beginning of June.
There are many different ways of being religious. But before discussing about it we have to define religion. Dictionary.com explains it as being "1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs". So viewed as a very broad concept, it can basically be anything that a person chooses to believe about this world. It is what motivates and drives into action. However, for the sake of simplicity, here I want to limit it to the major religious groups, like for instance Christianity, and inside those religions different ways of putting into practice (not only manifesting as different sects but even inside those groups as different manners of practicing). Because we are all different there are naturally different ways of executing an idea. For some religion may be a salvation from a wretched past, a spark of light illuminating the darkness. It's comforting and may restore happiness by bringing peace of mind. Then there are cases where religion becomes destructive when it is misused in a corrupt way, driven by selfish motives. It can be forced upon someone or chosen freely by someone. To conclude, it can have both positive and negative aspects to it, like everything in life.
The reason I'm speaking of this is because a few weeks back, I got to witness what it is like to be part of a community like that, brought together by common belief. I saw that people were happy and open to each other. And I can definitely see that a big community like that is appealing to many people. It is to myself as well and I felt very comfortable there (after all we are pack animals, very sophisticated social beings equipped with a complex structure of emotions). They were kind not because they had some hidden agenda but because it's the right thing to do! Quite honestly that's sadly not a standard for all of us. Yes, even as we may think differently about many things we have for sure one thing in common. We value kindness. And it's really truly amazing how these people welcomed me, a total stranger. It's like they live in this happy little bubble. But of course, that is only the impression that I got from my experience. I've always thought that everyone should be allowed to believe in whatever they please as long as their way of living does not hurt others.
But there's also the fact that if everyone lived according to that sacred old book the scientific world as we know it today would most probably not exist and thus technology wouldn't be as advanced as it is today and perhaps in the long run humankind would've evolved in some other direction. That's another concerning quality about religion, it may act as a brake for our evolution as a species. (And yes I do know of religious people who do science, like creationist Ken Ham. But I think approaching any subject with a viewpoint that the Earth is only 6000 years old might get you some distorted results. Speaking of Ham check out this epic debate between him and scientist and engineer Bill Nye.) We definitely need those people who question things and are hungry to seek the truth without settling with an idea that is simply just comforting. That's what I call being brave. In the end I believe there's just us human beings and our own individual realities constructed in our stream of consciousness. Or that's what makes the most sense to me anyway. But then again that is just my perception and I can't know for sure. Living in a sort of mystery may be very distressing for many people and I understand that. But I choose to embrace that and I'm glad so many others do it as well. The possibilities are endless and that's what makes life exciting. Kindness, open-mindedness and curiosity. Trying to understand without judging. Being compassionate. That's what I value.