belief by the numbers
When I was earning my degree in counseling psychology, I was required to take a course called—ominously enough—Statistics. I survived by joining a study group organized by one of the few scientifically inclined souls in the class who coached the rest of us through enough of this foreign terrain to receive passing grades. I say “received” rather than “earned” because in my case (and I suspect in some of the others) the grade was the result of minimal achievement combined with the kind-heartedness of the professor who referred to our group throughout the semester as “you counseling types.”
Since then, however, I’ve discovered that simple statistics sometimes tell fascinating stories. One of the most intriguing sets of numbers comes from the 100 People Foundation which is developing curriculum and media for schools around the globe with the aim of helping students better understand their neighborhoods and the larger world in which they live.
As I write, a stew of “religion” and politics foments violence in much of the world—and I’m not referring here only to the Middle East and a perverted version of Islam, but also to the perversions of Christianity that we find within our midst. According to 100 People, globally the breakdown of the world’s religions looks like this: Out of 100 people …
33 identify as Christian
22 as Muslim
14 as Hindu
7 as Buddhist
12 as “other”
12 as no religion
As far as I know, none of the basic tenets of any major religion advocate the murder of those with dissimilar beliefs; none of them declare that women are lesser beings than men; none of them confuse corporations with people…and yet…and yet. Well, you get the point.
It’s considered a truism that traveling broadens your outlook. I’m not sure that’s always the case. However, for me, travel confirms my belief that, at heart, we’re more similar than different and that the impulse to accept and help our fellow humans is alive around the globe. In Jakarta, for instance, the cavernous Istiqlal Mosque sits across the street from the Catholic Cathedral, and with special observances almost always on different dates, the two congregations share parking lots and direct traffic for each other during crowded celebrations.
Many aspects of our humanity stretch across time and cultures—the love of music and dance, the delight in our young children, the enjoyment of precious “down time.” Travel reminds the traveler of all of those similarities, and more.
January 19, 2015