Every human being has a spiritual path on which they travel in their lifetime. Sometimes that path may be to not acknowledge the spiritual at all, but the choices are still there to be made. In the same way that wealth which is achieved through hard work can be appreciated more than that which is gained easily, I believe that those who have struggled with tough spiritual issues before finding their way can often emerge with greater wholeness.
I, personally, was brought up in a household that "believed in God" but practiced religion in no way at all. Never did we attend church, pray as a family, or discuss faith at all. My father, a kind, level-headed, and all-around beautiful person, had a strong dislike of formal religion and mistrust of "preacher types." It was easy, therefore, to slide right into atheism in my early college days and progress to agnosticism in my later college days. Through a great deal of thought, reading, and conversation with other people of diverse learning and backgrounds, I was exposed to a variety of ideas which lead me to the Anglican church of my Anglican ancestors and then to the Catholic church of my husband's Italian ancestors. I have emerged as an extremely open-minded Catholic. (Many people cannot believe that an open-minded Catholic can exist) I still have held onto many facets of other world religions and realize that I have not yet arrived, but am still traveling.
Although I am presently very comfortable with where I am, one question still continues to gnaw at me. Why do so many people have trouble letting go and allowing others to find their own spiritual path? Shouldn't we all be allowed to find our way without being pushed, bullied, frightened and insulted? Isn't setting a good example the best way to encourage others to follow a path that has worked well for us? And is it really appropriate to judge the lives of others or should we realize that, good or bad, it is all part of who the are to become?
As I see the world around me, I realize that a great deal of the hate in this world could be eliminated by "letting go." When I see destruction and injustice around me, I speak up. When I see personal struggle and growth around me, I shut up. When I hear that all of the problems of the world are caused by religion I have to, respectfully, disagree. Most of the problems come from a need to control others and the discomfort of being around anyone that may have opinions or ideas that are different from ours.