Launching the monthly ReligiousiTea series, the Office of Equity and Diversity, also known as OED, partnered with the Women’s Center to host an informal discussion on the concept of a higher power in religion.
“You find in a variety of religions that there is some concept or form of a higher power,” said moderator Tuba Farooqi, sophomore and Student Peer Faith and Spirituality Leader in OED. “In Hinduism or mostly Abrahamic religions, you find that one higher being that kind of directs the religion and tells you what to do.”
Students had an opportunity to share their own definition of a higher power and elaborate on its significance in their lives. The common theme among all definitions was the idea that a higher power is someone or something that is constantly there.
“I think a higher power is someone who just knows everything in life, knows how everything is going to play out and guides you in a way that is best for you,” said sophomore Ali Davies.
Existence of a higher power or being can easily be misinterpreted as a figure to be afraid of, yet students found this to be a damaging way to look at it.
“A lot of people, when they speak in terms of God, they give an effect of God is to be feared,” said Rand Abdul-Raziq, sophomore and president of the Muslim Student Association. “If you do something wrong, you are going to be punished. I don’t like to see it that way. It’s not a healthy way to see it and if people see it that way, they are living out of fear.”
Emphasizing the true significance of this religious concept in individuals’ lives, Farooqi shifted the conversation to how people define the purpose or role of a higher being.
“I would remind people that a higher power shouldn’t be something or someone that dictates your life,” said Farooqi. “A higher power is there for you when you need them and you are at your most lost. When there is no one else you can go to, that’s when you go to your higher power. That’s something or someone you can go to and discuss your most inner thoughts.”
This interpretation resonated with students such as Davies, who describes herself as disconnected from her Catholic roots yet finds solace in turning to a higher power in moments of chaos.
“It’s kind of like a comfort. I’m not super religious, but I do have higher beings that I do look to. It’s not exactly a religious thing but it’s when I am in a freak out mode, it’s nice to go to that comfort and calm myself down,” said Davies.
While religion can be described as a controversial subject of discussion because everyone has different viewpoints, the students recognized the need to have these types of conversations that encompass all types of religions.
“It’s important for kids our age to learn about all different religions,” said Davies. “It’s not bad to just stick to one, but once you broaden your horizons and take a broad look at what the world has to offer, you can find out a lot more about yourself. There’s so much more out there.”
With religion functioning as a central component of an individual’s identity and appearing in almost all facets of life, engaging in these types of thematic discussions are more important than ever.
“The reason why I think religion is so important among everybody is because it comes down to it being a way of life,” said Peter Shalit, assistant at the Krame Center. “Everyone is living and has their own way of life.”