For our generation, religion means mix of old, new beliefs
With the words of hope and spirituality the Dalai Lama brought to AU this past week, there also came the question of religion and the younger generation. As a group coming to adulthood when so much of the status quo has been questioned, are we a group able to follow faith blindly?
Our generation is one that accepts greater sexual freedom. We understand that being gay is not a decision, but rather part of a person. We desire to be colorblind. And we also face the question of whether or not religion is compatible with our modern beliefs. I’ve found that often, it feels as though being religious means being hypocritical. One cannot deny that adhering strictly to religious observances is increasingly difficult. It seems unfair for a Jewish girl in college to have to turn down a night out with friends because a restaurant can’t ensure her plate hasn’t touched meat — not to mention most restaurants within a college budget probably can’t. Being part of a certain faith should make one feel like they are part of a group, not alienate them from others. Yet many students who practice Judaism do not strictly keep kosher and consider themselves highly religious.
One could also point out that this generation’s beliefs contradict those of our religions. Christianity, for example, encourages followers to sacrifice their own well-being in order to ensure the wellbeing of others. To give without expectation is to practice faith; to accept and forgive others is to do the work of God. However, the church does not recognize gay marriage; thus, we are asked to not accept our friends in gay relationships. We are asked, in a sense, to stand against the well-being of our friends.
When religions are morally opposed to groups of people, one must wonder if we can stand as one united group of people, hoping to do the best for everyone. It has long been true that religion has been the cause of most wars in history. One could even argue that religion is behind the wars of our political parties. Is there any hope for young Americans to practice a faith and practice what we feel is right?
I would like to think so. We are of a different mindset than many of our parents, as they are of our grandparents. There was once a time where your wedding kiss was supposed to be your first. Social norms have changed a lot since then, but religion has remained a constant — an unchanging facet of life that holds us in common with our ancestors.
This is why it’s no surprise that religion will follow us through graduation — if faith and morality made it through the ‘70s, it can make it through anything. We will have religion as long as we take faith as it takes us: as a whole, overlooking some of our lesser characteristics.
The fact that we can practice religion that we may not agree with 100 percent gives me great hope. It shows that we have open minds; while we may not agree with all parts, we stand for what the whole stands for. The fact that our generation still practices religion — 81 percent of freshmen students at UCLA, according to a university study, shows that we are comfortable being ourselves, despite how our beliefs may be different. If our generation can keep this open-mindedness and welcome the fact that other people have different opinions, we may be in a much better place come 20 years.
Kristen Boghosian is a senior in the School of Communication and the School of Public Affairs and The Eagle’s managing editor for The Scene. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.