religion gives people structure to do things they should do, but wouldn’t otherwise get around to

i’m really into alain de botton these days. earlier this week, i listened to the on being episode in which he was interviewed. among  many brilliant things he said, one great point he made was about how organization religion gives people structure they wouldn’t have otherwise had. and that that’s a good thing. his point developed like this (generally):

people, more often than not, know what things they need to do to be well. however, left to their own devices, we simply won’t or don’t do those things. we simply just don’t get around to them. for example, most people know that forgiveness is an important part of having healthy, lasting relationships. unfortunately, those same people may just not ever get around to doing the forgiving. or, another example he gave, was that people know that celebrating the seasons is a good idea. however, without some sort of outside prompting, most of us will just flow right through the year.

religion gives people excuses (structure) to do things they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten around to. holidays, collective rituals, and spiritual calendars give us space do those things. for example, in jainism, kshamavani is the annual day of forgiveness. description from wiki:

On this sacred day, every member of the Jain community approaches everyone, irrespective of religion, and begs for forgiveness for all their faults or mistakes, committed either knowingly or unknowingly. Thus relieved of the heavy burden hanging over their head of the sins of yesteryears, they start life afresh, living in peaceful co-existence with others.

 it’s a lot easier to go out and find the person you need to forgive about something when everyone else is doing it and it has a designated day.

as much as i have rejected the organized religion of my childhood (christianity), alain does have a good point here. as he does with many other things… more posts on that on being episode coming soon.