I believe spirituality and social discourse are separate from organized religion and politics, so when I say that I think the world would be a better place without religion and politics, I speak of the institutionalized versions only. We can no more abolish spirituality and social discourse than we can abolish breathing.
However, in my view, both become extremely dangerous when they are institutionalized. What should be fluid and flexible, allowing for the inevitable changes that are the hallmark of being alive, becomes rigid and, in time, obsolete as the world changes around it. We begin to invest more energy in the structure we’ve built around a principle than in the principle itself. And maintenance of obsolete structures is a terrible waste of resources.
Think of what we could be doing with all the time and energy we waste examining the corruption inherent in all long-standing institutions and trying to stamp it out. Institutions are capable of great acts of compassion and public service because of their power, but they are also capable of great destruction when that power is perverted.
In my opinion, we’d be better off relating to each other as individuals, each setting out to do some small good, and trusting that all the small goods will combine into a great good. We don’t have to give it a name or form a party around it or tell everyone they’ve got to do it, too. Small good = butterfly effect = utopia maybe?
“Make peace where you are.” – John Lennon
(Presented at the 3/17/12 meeting of The Roadside Philosophers in Second Life. The question was, “Are religion and politics so divisive that we would be better off without them?”)