Due to the recent actions of extremists who claim to base their actions in religion there is a lot of concern over the power religion has over people. The problem is that most people, including many followers of their faiths, do not understand and, in the case of followers, also choose not to follow the most basic tenets of faith. People allow charismatic leaders to obscure the true message of religions and twist words to their own ends. Almost everyone knows the Golden Rule of Christianity, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” but almost every religion has a similar core teaching. At the base of religion is the command to be kind, to care about those around you. Then they teach you how not to be focused on yourself ignoring the needs of others which generally boils down to how to deal with and let go of your fears.
In Buddhism it is, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful,” Udana-Varga 5:18 and in Islam is is, “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths.” In Judaism it is, “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary,”Talmud, Shabbat 31a, in Hinduism it is, “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you,” Mahabharata 5:1517, and in Wicca it is, “Do as you will and it harm none.” That is just the tip of the iceberg though. The farther you look into different spiritualities the more you find that no matter how different a religion is it probably, at its core, teaches its followers to think before they act, specifically to think with kindness in mind.
So now we see that kindness is one of the basic teachings of most religions, why do the people who say they follow these paths not behave with kindness? The reason is fear. At the base of all actions against kindness tends to be fear: fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of risk, or fear of pain. However when you look into the religions you will find that they teach you how to let go or overcome your fears as well. They not only push you to be a good person, but they show you how to do so whether it be through prayer, giving your fears over to God, meditation, or good deeds. Religions teach us to work together.
Rather than listening to the fear mongers and playing in to the desires of extremists, no matter what your faith, if any, do not give in to your fears. Do not let fear make your decisions. Remember that the goal is kindness, treating others as you want to be treated. Do whatever you need to do to view the world from that viewpoint. Remember that standing up against fear to do the right thing is braver than hiding because of it. We are all inhabitants of the same planet, no better nor less than any other, all just as deserving of kindness. If we all could step up and act for kindness and the support of our fellow humans rather than allow extremists to cloud our choices with fear, maybe, just maybe it would no longer be necessary.