Misconceptions About Religion and Respect

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Courtesy of Omar Rikabi

Being half Turkish, half American, and having relatives all over the world, many different religions are in my family. My mother’s side is Turkish, and half of my father’s side are Russian, and the other half are Americans. All of these cultures are extremely different, providing variations in what we all believe. My family in Turkey are all Muslims, my family in Russia are all Orthodox Christians, and my family in America are all Jews. Between all of these different religions come different customs and cultures, giving our family lots of diversity. My mom identifies herself as a Muslim but does not practice, and my dad does the same thing as a Jew. I never really identified myself as having a religion. When people ask what religion I am and I reply, “I simply don’t have one” everyone seems to think that I am prejudice to organized religion, or that I view it badly. Both of these things are wrong, misconceived ideas. One of my goals in redefy is to break the conception that if you aren’t directly involved in organized religion, you don’t respect it. In fact, all of the different religions in my family has taught me to treat and respect every religion. The diversity had brought my family closer instead of tearing it apart. I have grown to love the fact that we have so many cultural differences in our family, because it gives me more of an insight and peek at the world. I want everyone in the world to be able to view different religions and cultures with the open way that I now do, and to be able to learn things from them. If everyone was willing to have an open mind to things they aren’t native to, the world would be a better place. I have first handedly learned that stepping out of my comfort zone is something that has made me a better, happier person, and my diversity makes me who I am.

-Lara Strassberg