Moral superiority: the ultimate form of condescension.
For many, piety has become something to showcase behind a polished glass wall. We broadcast our religiosity as if it is a trophy to be admired and sought after rather than a lifestyle we choose to build a better connection with our creator(s).
We shame others on the level of their commitment to their religion by calling them “Creasters” or “self-hating Jews” or the most applicable to me: “Ramadan Muslims”- or Muslims who, in the eyes of self-righteous Muslims are failing religious expectations by committing sin, but somehow appear as though they are turning a new leaf during the holy month of Ramadan.
For those who have ever scoffed, eye-rolled or even subconsciously degraded somebody who fits in the above category – I have but one simple question for you – Why is their relationship with God ANY of your business? What are you spiritually lacking that you feel the need to lessen their efforts to connect with their religion to make you feel better about your own? Why judge somebody because they sin differently than you?
You are not the mediator between somebody and their God – their outward actions are not by any means a representation of their faith and spirituality, and neither are yours. Where someone may have one outward imperfection, you could have 50 that are hidden – and the truth is, criticizing their imperfections are not going to fix yours.
Somehow, religion in our society is looked at one of two ways – either you’re completely secular and everyone who is religious is unhinged – or you’re quite religious and everyone who lacks outward religious characteristics are sinners. Why? Religion is not something worn as an accessory to be displayed then reviewed. If you are praying for the sake of broadcasting to the world that you pray – how does this enhance your faith? If you fast for the sake of showcasing your piety – what good is your fast? Everyone’s relationship with God is a relationship for two – yourself and your creator, not yourself, your ego and your creator. Last time I checked, someone’s relationship with God is not a love triangle where everyone chimes in – and even if it was, think to yourself for a second – how is your chastisement going to make you or them a better person? What good does your condescension contribute to your faith, or to your community?
Having a “holier than thou” mentality is a closed-minded way to blockade the potential for discovery, acceptance and support. While you waste your efforts and energy deriding someone’s relationship with God, you are not making yours stronger – you are wasting the same time you could be using to support that person – to understand and accept their actions, to learn from them and perhaps even strengthen your faith along the way.
An unfortunate reality is that society has created many ways to shame people for being who they are; weight shaming, slut-shaming, illness-shaming, religion shaming – we are collectively so quick to judge those who do not fit into the world that we attempt to create for ourselves. Our relative norms define us, and in the eyes of society, straying from that norm is at the least, discomforting. But even just for a second do we stop and examine the fruit of our efforts (or lack thereof)? Do we consciously evaluate how even the looks we give, the things we say, the general aura that we give off is making a difference? While I wholeheartedly believe in being entitled to an opinion and giving constructive criticism, I think it’s essential to take the time to verbally or non-verbally commit our support and understanding to ourselves and to those around us – because the truth is, you don’t know if this little step could make all the difference.