The Pope’s visit to New York last week was exciting and uplifting. For a few days the City’s diverse population was united around his themes of caring, peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.
The vast majority of New Yorkers viewed Francis’ visit as a positive thing. However, there were a few who voiced their concern in support of the separation of church and state. An article in the NY Times, An Atheist Group Asks, Should New York Be in the Pope Business? got me thinking… do we need God to be good?
If an atheist follows the Golden Rule, and offers service to humanity, is she any less ‘divine’ than the person who professes their faith in God?
According to Pew Research Center’s aggregated data from 2012, 2.4% of American adults say they are atheists when asked about their religious identity, up from 1.6% in 2007.
I believe in God, but I no longer belong to an organized religion. I admire the wisdom of Gandhi. He believed that love, respect, and truthfulness were the underpinnings of all religions and the basic foundation for a moral life. As he famously once said when asked if he was a Hindu, “Yes I am. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew.”
My faith is a source of spiritual insight and atonement (at-one-ment). During meditation and prayer I experience an expanded consciousness and a feeling of unity with everyone and everything. But to be ‘good’ I rely on virtues. They give me actionable ways to be the very best I can be, empowering me rise above negative influences and temptations in life, or to simply pause and acknowledge the goodness each day has to offer.
My greatest personal transformation came as a result of of mindful parenting. By using the Five Strategies of the Virtues Project and teaching my son the Virtues from “A” to “Z”, I learned how to practice compassion, faithfulness, forgiveness, humility, and many other virtues that believers view as ways to serve God.
It’s actually quite simple: If we want to be good, we must learn what goodness is. It all begins with the what, why and how of virtues.
I created The “V” Channel to give parents, teachers, coaches, and even school bus drivers, simple and creative ways to teach kids virtues. I hope that believers and non-believers alike will teach their children well, and inspire them to be good, with or without God.
Founder and Creative Director
PS: If you have any thoughts or comments you would like to share, please email me at scott@theVchannel.com.
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Special thanks to the Virtues Project, a global grassroots initiative to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life. “Five Strategies of the Virtues Project” is a trademark of the Virtues Project International Association.