My choice was between Taoism and Christianity, two very appealing and well-liked practices. Taoism, though unfamiliar to most of you, has many favorable traits. People are urged to respect others and to be kind to everyone whom they meet in order to be reborn wealthy and noble.
If people are disrespectful or cruel, they will be reincarnated into a poor and unhappy life. I feel that this motivation would do many things for us as a human race, making us a more decent, well-meaning people. The set of rules that a devout Taoist follows would help out the world crime wise, since the scriptures speak against killing and wronging others, however only the very religious will adhere to these laws of the scriptures.
In practicing Taoism, an individual finds him/herself more appreciative of nature, and the natural state of things. This fact added to the fact that Taoists don’t eat meat would allow many endangered species of our planet to reproduce and become plentiful, and the rainforest would no longer be being cut down simply for more farmland so we could raise more cows to slaughter. Another favorable trait of Taoism is that it is practiced on a personal level. Everybody seeks the Tao in their own way, depending on their interpretation of the laws that govern the religion. However this personal level of practice is also a drawback. In Christianity, people attend mass once a week (more or less, depending on the person and his/her amount of faith), and mass becomes a sort of social gathering. In Taoism, however, there is no weekly mass where people will congregate. If a majority of the population becomes devout Taoists and each person dedicates at least a few hours a day to meditation, then this country will suffer from a significant social loss. Another drawback of Taoism is the diet. If I choose this religion, and a majority of you practice it strictly, then the universe will lose economically. There will no longer be a big market for meat, grains, or alcohol. This would shut down thousands of businesses, and unemployment will escalate rapidly. On days when people fast completely and don’t eat anything, most restaurants will have to close, because even the people cheating on their diets wouldn’t want to be seen doing so in public.
However the aforementioned drawbacks are not as severe to me as this third one – the idea of rejecting culture. Taoism is built upon the belief that people should allow themselves to grow untouched by any outside sources. People should grow naturally, and not allow cultural advances or traditions to harm their natural flow of energy, Qi, in any way. These beliefs would push aside our modern medicine and replace it with natural (meaning herbal and spiritual) healing methods. Although Taoism is successfully practiced by many people today, I cannot reject the culture that belongs to the rest of the world. For us all to become good Taoists, we would use acupuncture for anesthesia and treat a heart attack with herbs. Modern medicine has come too far and has done too much for the human race for me to simply shove it aside. Think of all the literature alone that would become worthless, such as Bibles and medical journals.
Christianity is definitely practiced by a larger percent of the population than Taoism is, I must admit – and I also know a lot more about it than I do about Taoism. And it has many good points as well, however, it also has its bad side. For one thing, Christianity is not a universal religion. There are many different interpretations of the Bible, which create many different smaller religious groups, all calling themselves Christians. Friction would build between the groups, and there would be many arguments over who is following the correct interpretation. Religion would lose a lot of its meaning if the world simply becomes one huge Jerry Springer show, with groups merely fighting over who read the Bible correctly. If I needed to choose a uniform religion with definite guidelines, Christianity would not be it.
There are also many good aspects of Christianity. As I have already stated, the regular attendance in church would foster feelings of community and would create religious bonds between fellow worshippers, keeping people around the world united by one common goal. Although everybody pursues the Lord in his/her own way, Christianity allows for groups to congregate and socialize while they worship. Another good aspect is the set of rules that Christians must follow in order to remain good in the eyes of God. The Ten Commandments are followed by devout Christians, and these rules follow the laws of our world very closely. So if everybody follows the Ten Commandments, then there won’t be so many laws being broken. However, only an extreme optimist would believe that every one of you will follow the Ten Commandments or the laws of the land perfectly, so in this respect Christianity will only help us out a little, crime wise.
I also feel that people will be happier with Christianity. With the Bible, people have a definite role model to follow, very similar to a main character in a novel. With Taoism, people must find their own way to spiritual happiness. Personally, I find the Taoist road more challenging, and more time consuming than that of Christianity. If a Christian commits a sin, then they can confess it to a priest, who will send the message to God and then forgive the person for God. Then the person can go home happy, thinking that their sin will not affect whether they get into Heaven or not. However with Taoism, a person only has him/herself to answer to, and there is no forgiveness except what the person is willing to give to him/herself. In practicing Taoism, a person could spend an entire lifetime searching for higher meaning and the Tao and never find it, whereas with Christianity God is always there for a person from the beginning, ready to help a person out or to forgive his/her sins. God is like a confidante and a parent, always listening, yet exerting his authority when it’s needed. The Tao is never there unless you can find it, after years of searching, and even then, Tao is not a person, it cannot be described in any way, shape, or form, it’s just a higher level of existence that Taoists seek. With the frequent high level that gossip, speech, and friendship play in society today, Christianity fits right in with a human God, whereas Taoism seems more obscure and indefinite.