Is Religion, or Isolation and a “Lost Spirit,” the Root of Today’s Problem?

None of us have all the puzzle pieces.

Can we just admit this, and admit that we don’t have all the insight, all the expert knowledge, all the divine compassion, and all the wisdom to recognize the real problem without listening to others and working together with them, let alone solve it from our Laz-E-Boy armchairs?

Consider, for just a moment, the ways in which people who seem so different from us may, in fact, not be so very different after all. Is it really religion – any religion – that is at the root of all our problems? Or is it that we leave people out in the cold, sometimes, desperately searching for something that religion (or alcohol, drugs, gang life, etc.) promises – be that an escape from unhappiness, a sense of belonging and fitting in, a sense of purpose?

It would be easier to label the problem and point fingers – but what is it they say? He who seeks vengeance must first dig two graves – one for his enemy, and one for himself. Is it really harder to turn enemies into allies? I don’t know. It’s ironic that people don’t seem to recognize in themselves the same sorts of prejudices and hatred once directed at them: Jews, Catholics, Germans, the Japanese, the Irish, Chinese people… But I know throughout history it’s been done, more or less. Maybe “love thy neighbor” is asking too much, but how about “don’t hurt other humans”? Must we really have another unholy war? Another Crusade? Another uncivil war? Another world war? Don’t we ever grow weary of it? I’m weary of it and haven’t really lived through one. Yet. I’m not eager to, and I would really like to live another 40 years or so – at least. If I have to live longer to keep urging peace, then by golly, I’ll try.

Maybe we should work, first, to eradicate the words like “war” and “battle” and “fight” and “tackle” from our vocabulary at all, when it comes to “rising to the challenge” of identifying and solving the problems that threaten civilized society. Using these bellicose adjectives seems to add fun to sporting events, but then too many people start to see war as a sporting event – not just the other way around. Focus instead on “unite,” and “collaborate,” and “together,” and maybe we will indeed “rise to the challenge” instead of becoming “mired in another conflict.”



Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at For more information on her children's books, please visit
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19 thoughts on “Is Religion, or Isolation and a “Lost Spirit,” the Root of Today’s Problem?”

    1. Religion abuse? I made it up. But it is appropriate and non-discriminatory, isn’t it?

      Not that you’ve ever much struck me as needing to learn about the power of certain words, but I’m glad I got the message across clearly!

  1. None of us have all the puzzle pieces, nor do we have all the answers to the very many problems. My own take is that there is a shift taking place thanks to the explosion of information giving gadgets and technology that is unable to provide the instant gratification that everyone wants. The havenots want it now, and the haves are fighting to protect what they have! If we can all go back to the pre mobile phone, TV days, people will be ignorant and comfortable in their circumstances. The dissatisfaction that this technology generates is exploited by vested interests for various nefarious purposes. It is difficult not to be affected but that is precisely what we must do if we were to retain our own sanity.
    Rummuser recently posted…Indian Roads.My Profile

    1. Is it? Isn’t it also possible that it’s led many of the haves to question the status quo, develop greater empathy, become aware of their own privilege, and do something about it? Isn’t it possible that governments and “the 1%” are now struggling with how to push their narratives in a world where we can all simply talk to each other directly? I wonder if, in the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, was it God, or some jealous human, that caused the project to fail? Some ruler who knew that if we could work together to touch the face of god, or maybe just make it to Mars, we would be hard to control or enslave–if we ever understood that we could be self governing, cooperative, adults.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…To Cry, or Not to Cry? Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow…My Profile

  2. It’s refreshing to hear someone say “None of us have all the puzzle pieces” when so many declare they have all the answers if the rest of us would simply fall into line and do as we’re told. I sure as heck don’t know what to do to make things better except be kind and open-minded in my everyday behavior and try to call out the goofballs who say and do stupid stuff on social media (or even if I see it happen in real life). I don’t go political on my blog as a rule, but I did just post an essay about propaganda, asking writers to raise the bar on truth telling.
    Patricia Stoltey recently posted…The Propaganda AssaultMy Profile

  3. Well… you kind of know how I think about these things… but I’m gonna say it anyway; it’s religion!

    To say it’s a lost spirit makes it seem as if it’s something that’s only happening now. In truth, religion, or faith in something other than humans, has always led to problems. It’s because people who believe in such things can’t even always agree with each other. I mean, how many sects of Christianity are there in this country anyway, who hate each other as much as everyone else until there’s something that pulls them together in what they perceive as an emergency?

    I always acknowledge that religion has helped some wayward souls find a purpose, so it’s not all bad. But more people have died, been persecuted and subjugated, dismissed and threatened because of religion throughout history. The funny thing for me is that race is only #2 in this equation, even if it’s easier to identify.

    At least that’s how I see it…
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Leadership In The CommunityMy Profile

  4. This was lovely, Holly. I appreciate your positive focus and acknowledgement of us not having all the answers. We are too quick to blame religious extremists or other societal changes that we’re uncomfortable with for all of the world’s problems. Another blogger friend once made the point that it’s often fear of others and the unknown about them that creates so much hostility. That’s a softer lens from which to view the current divisiveness in the political and sociological aspects of our culture. I appreciated this perspective as some of my family members have views that are far more conservative than mine. It’s important to not let these differences drive us apart, but instead, to love and find the common ground. If I push them away because they disagree, then I’m really not better than the very people I criticize for being close-minded. This, ultimately, will never lead to a path of better understanding.

    1. Thank you, Laura, for visiting and adding to the conversation! I so rarely drop by Darren’s place these days, but something lured me in and your comment caught my eye… and here we are, my new Owl friend.

      I think your other blogger friend was right, and I wonder if all our problems don’t stem from fear, one way or another. I remember, once, in law school – we were doing a sort of mock trial in Evidence, and my mind had gone completely blank. I didn’t have the Rules of Evidence in front of me, and certainly not memorized. I latched onto one objection – Hhearsay – which was mostly legit, but there WAS an exception the other side could have (and should have) used to get the evidence admitted. I managed to fluster them – they even HAD the book in front of them and couldn’t find it – by firmly and loudly reiterating “Hearsay” every time one of them started to speak. (I couldn’t remember the exception, at first, either – but the prof was looking at all of us like we’d transformed into witless zombies, and it dawned on ME before they found it. She and I looked at each other and she just shook her head in disbelief while I smiled sweetly back… time ran out on them, and I got to look brilliant for a moment telling them what they’d missed. But honestly, it wasn’t anyone’s finest moment, and had they not let my mock confidence intimidate them, they’d have found the bit of info they needed.)

      We’re all in such a hurry we forget we can just STOP and think. The world is not an action thriller. We mostly do have TIME to stop and think, and would be better off for it. People are afraid of looking stupid, they’re afraid of making mistakes, they’re afraid of losing loved ones and possessions, they spend so much of their time afraid of something that sooner or later, everything starts to feel like a threat. And then we have this “fight” mentality. The media can’t go five minutes without extolling the fight for or the fight against this or that. We need to stop glorifying this constant fight, and glorify the day when none will be needed or wanted. And that day isn’t “When we die and go to heaven,” because that’s not a sure thing and maybe won’t happen if we don’t figure out how to create “heaven” on the earth we’ve got.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…When the Critic Doesn’t Know Your NameMy Profile

      1. I agree. I’m most at peace when I’m a human “being” and not a human “doing.” There must be a reason my subconscious named my blog owlinthewood. I don’t really fit in with the whole run as fast as you can through the maze paradigm. I’m glad you found me on Problogger. When I saw the post title in my inbox, I kind of went off and decided to speak my mind – hopefully in not too harsh of a manner. I agree with you about creating “heaven on Earth.” The opportunity is there; it has always been there, really. If we will only allow our intuitive side to have a voice and take it.
        laura routh recently posted…Plastic Free July – Take the ChallengeMy Profile

      2. Oh, I’m sure you weren’t the only one who noticed.

        And I doubt that he meant to be as negative as he sounded. It’s a technique – use an attention-grabbing, strongly emotional word like “hate” in your seven word headline to PROVOKE a response. “You hate my blog? I hate your face!” LOL Gets more comments, anyway. More “social proof.” I believe he also mentioned that English isn’t his first language? It’s a technique that often comes across VERY badly when you can’t layer in a bit of self-deprecating humor and subtly nuanced sarcasm. It should never be attempted by amateurs. There’s a lot of bad advice on the Internet; ultimately, bloggers should settle into something that feels natural to them, and not try to fit someone else’s mold. Sure, some things work better than others, but those things need to be adapted to a blogger’s own personal style, or there are just a million cookie-cutter bloggers out there trying to do the same thing. Which, for the most part, is “be as successful as Problogger.”

        You’re not used to speaking your mind like – what? Like you did over there or over here? Good gravy. I’m not used to NOT speaking mine, so here’s the “rules” (such as they are) on my blog:

        1) Speak your mind! A diversity of people and opinions are very welcome here, always.

        2) Disagree with others vehemently, if you do – but never attack them PERSONALLY. There’s a nice, happy balance between blunt honesty and civility. No name-calling. No implying anyone participating here is the illiterate son (or daughter) of a “brianless moran.” And if you get into a debate, no fair taking your marbles and running home. (Graceful disentanglement is encouraged. Thoughtful silence is allowed. Pouting or shouting “I’m outta here!” is not allowed. And I’m mostly kidding about all this other than “no attacking others” part. That one, I’m dead serious about. My comments section is not Breitbart’s or HuffPo’s.)
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…Papier the Purple Paper DragonMy Profile

      3. P.S. I offer a little leeway and more room for snark when it comes to politicians, provided the “attack” focuses on specifics and not those immutable characteristics defined by the ADA, such as race, gender, ability, sexual orientation (unless it’s entirely relevant to them getting publicly caught up in a SCANDAL), etc. If you mention that Trump looks like he’s got a dead muskrat on top of his head, I won’t ban you.
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…Papier the Purple Paper DragonMy Profile

      4. I love that, and you have a deal about how to comment on your blog. I recognized the title as a technique and have grown weary of it. I ignore almost all advice these days unless it’s straight up information, especially the technical stuff. I love Seth Godin’s blog, though, as he’s all about being different and smooth as opposed to in your face. I tend to google what I need to know. Problogger has helpful information along with Copyblogger. Because of his gentle tone, I really like Blog Tyrant. Amy Lyn Andrews has had some helpful posts, too. I stay away from politics, but I did write a post on the name calling that was going on in the context of U.S. history – without ever mentioning the candidates names. I figured that people would get it. Too funny- the dead muskrat thing. Just to put in a good word for the blogger who wrote the post on fear, here is the link: It’s almost 3PM here, maybe I should think about getting dressed- or not.
        laura routh recently posted…Plastic Free July – Take the ChallengeMy Profile

      5. Great recommendation, Laura – thank you for helping me to discover another enjoyable, well-written blog.

        Problogger (Darren) is a good guy, as is Copyblogger (Brian). They have a great deal of useful information, not just a bunch of secondhand hype. And you’re right – I need to stop by Blog Tyrant’s place again – it’s been a while. Funny that a “Tyrant” would have a “gentle tone.” I suppose you could say the same of me and my Red Pen of Death(tm) – not exactly gentle, but always well-meaning (I’m much kinder than I sound, some days, but don’t let that get out). I don’t know Amy Lyn Andrews. I’ve been blogging since around 1999, and have always danced to my own drummer. I took Darren’s first ever “31 Days to a Better Blog” workshop just for fun, picked up a few good pointers, and made some good blogging friends through that. He quoted me, once, after asking Twitter a question. I was surprised and flattered, as I’d not been one of his followers at all, till then. I like people who are real, and down to earth, and don’t try to convince the masses that if they just spend $47 on their thingamajig, they’ll make millions in “passive income” while they sleep. Reminds me of Amway.
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…Iron and RustMy Profile

      6. Before I started my blog I visited both Darren’s and Brian’s blogs. They were, and continue to be, helpful. I just started blogging in October, so I’m a genuine newbie. I have so much learn, still. I have some technical issues that I need to focus on over the summer, which will stymie my writing a bit. But part of being successful is showing up – even if you have to slow down temporarily – I hope. I opted for the shower as it had been a few days, LOL! I’ve been taking “spit baths”, as my grandmother used to call them. I homeschool my twelve-year-old during the school year. Sometimes I meet other bloggers online, and I wish that they lived closer. We could all meet once a week for coffee and support. I look forward to reading more of your writing.
        laura routh recently posted…Plastic Free July – Take the ChallengeMy Profile

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