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Opinion Column

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We should respect our individuality and identity

Robert Ashton reminds us that God made us all as individuals, and feels that we should respect people’s desire not to conform, especially if it is driven by their beliefs.

His manner changed when I asked if he’d been vaccinated. We were planning our first face to face meeting for two years, and I’d mentioned that I’d had my three jabs and hoped he had too. But I’d clearly touched a nerve and the subject was quickly changed. A week or two has passed since that conversation, but I have not forgotten the reaction my seemingly innocent question prompted.

A little research revealed that the faith group my friend belongs to does not encourage its members to accept vaccinations or blood transfusions. Both they believe to be counter to the will of God and that to me is a good enough reason for refusal. But I wonder if his unwillingness to volunteer this was based on past experience of being criticized or even mocked for the values by which he has chosen to live his life?

I’ve felt prompted to reflect on the importance of individuality and tolerance. We all have so much in common, but it is the differences that make us who we are. Some choose not to eat pork, others to eat no meat at all. Some choose not to cut their hair or beard, and others consider it sinful not to be clean-shaven. Religious differences have been the cause of many wars, and when both sides in a conflict share a faith, both will claim to be killing their opponents in God’s name.

There is a sanctity to our individuality that should be protected and respected. We live in a world where things that were taken for granted for generations, are being questioned and sometimes challenged. People are increasingly expected to add their preferred pronoun to their email signature. Should we also do the same and assertively add the Christian group with which we choose to worship to our email signature or social media profile? Both are deeply personal, and both define our individuality.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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Robert Ashton is an author, social entrepreneur and Quaker.

Visit www.robertashton.co.uk

The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Norfolk, and are intended to stimulate constructive and good-natured debate between website users. 

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Kerryowner (Guest) 05/05/2022 20:10
It's ok to have differences/beliefs you adhere to and that are taught by your particular faith/branch of Christianity as long as they don't harm people. Being taught that vaccinations/blood transfusions are contrary to the will of God can be very harmful to a follower if they are extremely clinically vulnerable for example and are taught the Covid vaccine is against God's will/teachings. We can respect someone's right to have their belief but can still have a healthy debate about it!

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