There is a story I have been telling for years (I do not know who originally wrote it), about 6 blind men who decided they wanted to know what an elephant is, and so they decided to go find out. The men come upon the elephant and immediately begin to assess what an elephant is: The first blind man, holding on to the elephant's leg, says "An elephant is like a tree trunk!" The second blind man, who is grasping the elephants ear, says "That is not an elephant! An elephant is like a huge floppy fan." The third man, holding on to the elephant's tusk, says "You two obviously have no idea what an elephant is, because I am experiencing an elephant right now and it is like a huge, long, curving spear!" The fourth man, grasping the elephants trunk, says, "I don't know what you guys are all really experiencing, but it isn't a REAL elephant - elephants are like long hoses." The fifth, touching the elephant's side, and the sixth, holding the elephant's tail, also get in on the argument - each certain they are the ones in possession of the TRUTH of the elephant and what it is in full. But they are all just blind men with a very very small piece of the bigger picture.
I believe this story is a perfect example of all the religions/beliefs on earth. Each sure they have the full truth, the entire picture. Each certain they know god, while no other group can, because their understanding of god isn't the same. And so we fight, and argue, and kill, and terrorize, and bully, and preach preach preach.
What if - and this is just a thought I've been mulling over a lot in recent years - what if all of our religions and beliefs are each a small glimpse of god and the universe? Each with a different understanding, a different perspective, a different experience - and if we put them all together, like a puzzle, then we can get a much fuller, more accurate understanding of god, and what this existence really is.
We need to start viewing diversity in people, beliefs, etc as various facets of the expressions of god within this existence. Each a little different, adding another color, another shape to the beauty of the puzzle of life. Instead of rejecting that which is "contrary" to our own beliefs, and trying to get the world to a place where everyone believes the same things (boring!!), we need to embrace each other, and learn from each other! Making their beliefs and experiences valid does not invalidate your beliefs and experiences. Both really can be true. This is how we can open ourselves to a new way of life, a new perspective, a new world - each of us learning from and growing with each other in ways we could never have dreamt of before.
This is where we begin to build a world of gentility, kindness, love and peace. For we are all, truly ONE.