RASTA TIMES - What do people mean by 'God'?
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What do people mean by 'God'?
Posted: Saturday, December 4, 2004

By Ayinde

I wonder what different people mean when they say 'God'.

Across cultural lines it can have myriad meanings. It could be that people do not know what they, or others, are trying to convey when they use the word 'God', given the fact that it is not a term indigenous to many cultures.

There are nature's earthly forces, forces in people, forces in historical lineage, and forces that can be summoned from the Universe. Indigenous people had no problem relating to all these forces so they did not fuss about different concepts of deities, as they were quite aware that deities are the collective good abilities of anyone or anything in nature that could be used for both good and bad (depending on how things were being interpreted). They were more aware that the collective good that some people will see in one person/personality can be seen as bad by another, as they first related to what worked for the benefit of their community.

So the concept of everyone having to pay homage to one particular personality or concept of a deity was quite unreal, although they all acknowledged a supreme force that guided it all. The beliefs of one group of people, who called themselves Christians, were forced on other people against their free will, and that was never a good thing. So as far as I am concerned, unless people can recapture their broader awareness of forces/deities, the argument about whose idea of a god is more correct is not even a worthy debate.

Indigenous people recognized their leaders and/or healers as extensions of ancestral forces and/or universal forces, but they were practical in their relationships there. If the local leader worked in a way that enhanced their survival they were cool with that, and paid the local leader all the respect befitting of a deity. But when they realized that they were not benefiting from the local leader's guidance, they simply felt that their local deity lost favor with the bigger forces, and they were prepared to try another. Of course given the amount of information available today, people have more to consider before making a determination of good and bad, as people communicate internationally. Good and bad has to also be relevant to more than just one's local province.

Christians do not like these kinds of debates where they are called upon to define what they mean by god, as the concept was spoon-fed to most of them without having real experiences of what it entails.

As far as I am concerned, no one should accept anyone's idea of religion unless they see how it relates to their own indigenous values, and can benefit them from there. No one should be forced to accept another's idea of divinity. People have to also emancipate themselves from spiritual slavery.

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