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Agreeing to disagree best in religious circles

Jan. 24, 2001

'Why can't we be friends? Why can't we be friends?' echoes the old song from Tropical Punch. I don't know the answer to this question. In fact, I would settle for people just listening to each other.

The search for the absolute truth that lies at the heart of every religious movement seems to empower some people above all others, especially college students all across this nation. At least that's the way it seems sometimes. When young people believe they have found the 'truth' in their eyes, many then take the next step to declare anyone with a differing opinion to be wrong.

Though I have come to embrace Christianity as my faith, I cannot logically conclude that all other religions, or even other denominations, are void of some truth. Some of my colleagues would rather declare their version of 'truth' than take the time to listen to what others believe and think about it. I am not asking anyone to completely abandon their beliefs or even to change them at all, occasionally just to re-examine what they believe.

I understand that I, as a finite creature, will never understand everything, especially not even a fraction of what there is to know about the infinite being of God, but I am willing to continually try. I understand that other people, no matter which belief system to which they subscribe, are also searching for the truth and may have discovered something I may never have come to understand without their help.

I have been told that a person can do very few things excellently. With this advice, I can't help ask myself, 'Why not get help wherever I can?' Dialogue between people of other beliefs not only will deepen our understanding of the truth but will allow us to view the world through the eyes of a person with a different perspective.

Conversation between people also makes them more open to listen to each other's beliefs. This opening maybe useful in future evangelizing that a person may have in mind. More than likely, the exchange of information between the two parties will result in a more natural discussion.

By listening to what others believe and how they arrived at their beliefs, a dialogue is established between two individuals. Through this conversation, maybe people can find common ground on which a relationship--and possibly a friendship--may develop.

JOHN HALL

Staff writer

John Hall is a junior religion and journalism major from San Antonio.