It’s good, sometimes, to see the world
Through someone else’s eyes;
To take another’s point of view
And try it on for size.
“Be Muslim for a month,” perhaps,
Be Sufi, or be Sikh;
Try walking in their footsteps—
You could start for just a week.
You could try to be a Muslim
Or a Christian, or a Jew
But I’d like to see more people
Trying atheism, too.
Just try it for a month, or two,
Or maybe for a year—
Pretend there’s no use praying
Cos there’s no one there to hear
Pretend there is no god above
To save us from ourselves
Pretend there are no holy books—
Just leave them on the shelves
Pretend there is no heaven
And pretend there is no Hell;
Pretend we only get one life,
And try to live it well
And maybe, if you try it out,
You’ll like the you you find
Not member of a single tribe
But all of humankind
And maybe if enough of us
Can wear each other’s skins
We’ll understand our differences...
And everybody wins.
Via the Beeb (same link as above), an interesting piece on walking a mile (well, a month) in someone else's shoes. In this case, it's a bit like church camp, except that it is in Turkey, and the church is a mosque, and participants basically live life as temporary Muslims.
Given the ignorance about other faiths, and the animosity toward Muslims in particular, I think the "Muslim for a month" idea has some serious potential for good. Yes, it could be a worthless exercise, but it can't possibly be as futile as simply praying for peace.
Of course, after the 2006 University of Minnesota study, I personally think we could use this concept on a group that is distrusted even more than Muslims. Atheists are distrusted; atheists are misunderstood; atheists are demonized.
But it would be so easy to try to be an atheist for a month. You wouldn't even have to leave home. Wouldn't need to fly to Turkey, or to Israel, or Rome, or anywhere. I think (if memory serves) that Julia Sweeney's atheism began this way--just as a brief experiment, that proved successful.
It's actually easier than not being an atheist. No rituals, no hymns, no call-and-response, no nothing. Well, you do have to do one thing. You do have to think.