Poem: Hate Over Connections (Another Shooting)

Take your prayers and thoughts and shove it
We made this mess, we live it
Day by day, night by night
The burning of the world never ends

So you don’t think you had an effect?
When was the last time you tried to act?
No, ACT
Not Cry
Not beg
Not pray
ACT – with a vote?
A call?
Donate?
Or volunteer?
Or ask why?

Did you try?  No, you didn’t.
Too afraid of loosing your hate?
The hate sitting in your bones
Your mind?
Your heart?
Too afraid to lose “us” vs “them”?
Afraid of the human under that skin?

Afraid of that connection?
That touch
That knowing
That feeling
You don’t give a fuck about all that
Or anyone but yourself
Let them die,
Let them burn
You’ve got more important things to do
Like fighting for YOUR rights
YOUR religion
YOUR free speech
YOUR right to be loud and free
It’s YOUR gun, YOUR Ammo
And that’s alright
Cuz your rights just killed again
And Again
And Again

So cherish that hate
that blessed emotion
Keep it close so we don’t touch

And the world will burn

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Issues with A Broken Religion

Pandora really pisses me off sometimes.

I started building a new radio station to listen to at work based on one of my favorite bands, Breaking Benjamin.  I’ve been in a bit of a melancholy mood for a while now so it fit to create a station around them.  (For those that don’t know, the lead singer of Breaking Benjamin has been pretty public about his personal issues with anxiety and phobias, and to me you can feel that in his music.  You can also feel the strength he uses to fight those illnesses, and that is what appeals right now.  Times are tough, and we can be upset, but we also have strength in spades to get through).

So everything is going pretty well, and of course, as Pandora is designed to do, new music pops up.  And it’s from the band Skillet.  This is a band I wrote about awhile back.  They are Christian, and don’t shy away from speaking about that.  In fact, the reason they are still together is because one of their pastors counseled them to keep pushing forward and continue to speak about the “Glory of God”.   In other words, keep that recruiting up!  We need the revenue! (Yes, I’m aware my bias is showing here).

So that song got the Pandora thumbs down.

Then Ashes Remain came on.  Again, another Christian Rock band.  I looked them up, and they are too much like Skillet for my tastes.  So another thumbs down logged.  After the third Christian band popped up, I just decided to start looking up a list of “Christian” rock bands.  I found out there are quite a few.  The Color Morale, Red, Beartooth, Thousand Foot Krutch and many others I listen to identify as Christian.  And that really bothers me.

So my choices now were that I’m going to have to either keep logging thumbs down on songs a lot more than I thought, or I’m just going to have to accept that there are a lot of Christian bands out there and pick and choose what I like.  And if I just listen to them anyway, I get to do this despite the fact that I feel like most of these bands are out there specifically to recruit people to a religion broken by the people who identify with it.

Believe it or not, this is a pretty hard decision for me.  I’ve done my best to steer clear of Christianity for many years.  Christians can go live over there, and I’m here in my own belief system that suits me just fine.  And occasionally, on my own terms, I’ll seek out those that I know don’t ‘recruit’ and see what they have to say.  Speak to me about learning to become a better person, helping the planet or helping others gain their basic human rights and we will have things in common.  Talk to me about how my religion is somehow wrong or beneath yours, and the conversation will very quickly be over.

However, times are changing, and perhaps the mix that Pandora chose for me is just a catalyst for the realization that I have more lessons to learn.  Sooner or later, I’m going to have to accept that those of the Christian faith who look at me differently are integrated around me more than I feel comfortable about.  Right now I just keep that out of my mind.  However, perhaps that habit is a negative response, especially because of the amount of anger that comes up when I think about it.  And sooner or later, I’m going to have to deal with that anger; the real reason my bias exists.

So here is the crux of the matter: I have more issues with the Christian religion than I thought.  And now, I’m going to have to get off my gluteus maximus and figure out what those issues are and deal with them.

I talked about the fear of God syndrome once before.  And I thought that once I wrote that post, that I had dealt with my issues regarding Christianity, and that was that.  I thought I was doing a good job separating the religion from the people.  Because honestly, the religion itself isn’t THAT bad.  Love one another.  Judge not lest ye be judged.  Be still and know that I am God.  Let him without sin cast the first stone.  All of these things have profound meanings.  And they are meanings that transcend the Christian religion.  To me, it’s the PEOPLE who claim to be Christian that cause 90% of the problems with that religion, maybe even more.

I don’t need to go far to come up with excellent examples.  Look at those who are against abortion.  Sure, they are pro-life while the child is in the womb, but the minute the child is born there will be very little support it if the child was born outside of a strong family unit.  Look at the prosperity gospel and how many people who have given up their entire life savings hoping for a miracle.  Finally, and what angers me the most, is the issues in the current situation.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard ‘Christians’, in the current political climate argue against verses from the book that they claim to follow.  “Oh, that verse is just hyperbole.  Verses like that are throughout the entire bible.”  Or, “Sure, it says turn the other cheek, but at the same time, Jesus wouldn’t want me to stand by and watch as my family gets robbed and killed.”  Plainly put, these people will twist things to match what they want to believe, and they don’t give a shit about the true meaning of that religious text.

Perhaps I’m tired of seeing how people twist religion to make it fit what it is they want to do.  It’s the same with the racism in Heathenism.  There are interpretations of many religions that inflict more harm than they do good, and when that happens, there is something seriously wrong with the people that profess to be following that religion.  Perhaps it wasn’t the case in older times, but in the current age I firmly believe that religion is meant to help us understand the world around us and how we fit in with that world.  I firmly believe that the times where religion divided us should be over.  We have evolved further than that.

But unfortunately, power over people is still something that is strived for by many.  And religion is a tool that has been used for thousands of years to do just that; get power over people.  And for the most part, people are programmed to accept that when it comes to religion, you are expected to relinquish your power to get anywhere.  And thus you have the strife and conflict that we see today.  And that leads me back to my current dilemma.

But at least now I can speak to the issue more clearly.

I am pretty damn angry at people within the Christian churches.  I’m angry at how they failed me in my upbringing, how they didn’t answer my questions and how they forced me to follow along in a religion even though I felt so very different in my soul.  I’m angry at the strife they caused me and so many other people like me that felt different.  I’m angry that they made us feel like outsiders unless we conformed.  I’m very angry they caused us to be afraid of the very Gods that were there to help us the entire time.  And I am mad as hell that I have to deal with all of the leftovers of this upbringing.  I get to deal with all of the confusion and pain as to why I can’t understand or fit with the people who call themselves Christian.  I get to deal with them time and time again telling me that I still am wrong and that I need to ‘get with the program’ in order to save my soul.   I get to deal with the embedded ‘fear of God’s wrath’ if I dare try to be myself.  I get to deal with how I felt back then because I dared ask questions that people couldn’t answer.  And last but not least, I get to learn over and over again how to be a survivor in a country that claims to be Christian, yet refuses to treat people the way their own Jesus said to.

And I’m allowed to be mad.  I’m allowed to be mad as hell.  I’m allowed to be so mad that I can spit nails anytime anyone asks me if “I’ve found Jesus” yet.  Yeah, I found him, and he’s over in the Middle East doing what he can for the refugees that are dying.  And now that you mention it, I saw him the other day in your church, bent over the altar weeping at those using his house for their own personal gain.

Obviously I’m showing my anger.  I’m trying to get it out; to get a name to it.  I need to identify and deal with it.  I need to deal with it because of people like John Pavlovitz, Rob Bell, Michael Beckwith, Revered Ed Bacon and many others.  Although these people are only a few of the vast number of Christians out there, they believe differently.  They believe like me; that God is large enough to be involved in many different religions.  They believe we are stronger if we support and take care of each other, no matter what religion you profess.  And their beliefs contain the possibilities of what Christianity could become.  So there is hope.  Further, and thanks to the current political climate,  I’m reminded that I, someone who is in a religion in the minority, needs to learn to work with others who are in the minority.  Get enough of us together and we will become the majority, forcing change throughout the country.

Even if it is for that last reason alone, I need to deal with this anger.

I’m not sure where this thinking is going to lead me.  I hope it’s someplace positive.  I don’t want to dismiss good people trying to do what is right.  And I know the people I mentioned above are trying to do just that.  But the tenant of my faith says that I must work on myself; that I must overcome my own shortcomings and strive to be a better person.  This is what it means to me when I say I stand with my Gods.

So I guess because of my faith, my religion, I need to figure out a way to be more accepting to those that truly profess theirs.  But that doesn’t mean I’m going to feel bad for not listening to Skillet and bands like them that profess the current status quo of this currently broken religion.

 

Photo from Deviant Art

Remember – There Are Four Lights

As I reflect on what has happened since the inauguration, I realize that the next four years are going to be harder to deal with than I had ever imagined.  The first several days in office, and we are already introduced to things like the new presidential cheering section that follows the President to force other people to laugh and applaud at what he says.  We are also forced to deal with the new lovely term ‘alternative facts’ and the danger they can pose when people start believing them to be true.  And of course, this is just the icing on the cake; he’s already working to dismantle policies that could have detrimental effect on American citizens and our environment.  I hate to say it, but all of this has just made my mind spin.

Part of me wants all of this to stop.  Just days after the new government was installed, part of me doesn’t want to listen anymore.  My social medial feeds, already full of political posts are also now full of arguments between friends on what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ for our country.  And while some of the conversations are civil, many get out of control pretty darn fast.

I thought I had put down enough of a plan of action in my post just after the election.  But now I realize I what I said I would do is not enough.  As I said in that post, I don’t want to be political.  I don’t want this blog to become a political activist page.  Certainly standing up for what you believe in is a spiritual pursuit, but it is not my role to be a politician or political activist 100% of the time.  And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  I know there are others that are just so fed up with it that they are ready to ignore the entire government and any action they take in the next four years.

But that’s what the current administration WANTS us to do.

I am betting that one of the reasons there is so much media coverage on the numbers of people present at the inauguration vs the Women’s March this weekend along with the other hotly debated items is to push people to do just that – stop.  Stop considering about becoming part of the democratic process by letting their voice be heard.  Stop pushing forward because no matter what you believe, the polarized social networks are now just so in-your-face about things that it’s just too hard to have a dissenting opinion.  The more the pundits speak, the more zinger tweets that get shared, the more spin gets out there and the more the real issues get buried.

A meme I saw last night put everything into perspective for me.  It took me a moment to remember the episode (I’m not as strong on Star Trek as I am Star Wars), but it was a meme based on an episode of “Star Trek the Next Generation.” In the episode, Captain Picard was being tortured by a Cardassian.  During the torture, he was shown four lights.  But he was told that his torture would stop if he would only agree that there were five lights that he was being shown, not four.  All he had to do was say there were five lights, and he could live in luxury for the rest of his life and all the pain would end.  The meme speaks for itself what the conclusion of that episode; he was rescued, and as he was leaving, he yelled at the Cardiassian that there were four lights. bbtio4l

And thanks to that meme, I realize that it’s time for more evasive action.  I needed to do more; to reevaluate my plans in how to deal with the issues coming up in these next four years.

While thinking about these things, I came across two posts from John Beckett on Patheos.com.  The first was about maintaining the Sovereignty of your Mind.  In that post he spoke about what I realized when I saw the above meme.  This truly is going to be a fight for the hearts and minds of the American People in the next four years.  And many people are going to give up; they are going to see all of the chaos caused by the media about the minuscule arguments, and it’s going to take its toll.  We need to be aware of that, and we need to be aware of that now.  We have to set our minds up to filter through the noise so that we can see the real issues that will need to be addressed.

Secondly, John spoke about having an agenda for the next four years.  And again, he is spot on.  Even when we start removing the noise from the media, we aren’t going to be able to save everything.  We are going to need to have our own agenda.  No one can make these decisions for us.  We are going to have to think deeply about what decisions we want to voice our opinion against, and what ones we can live with.  We need to also ensure that we remain healthy.  We still need to maintain a healthy balance in our lives, or else we will just burn out.  This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we haven’t even completed the first mile yet.  Pacing is going to be key, and having that balance between activism, spiritualism and other efforts in life is going to be our pacer.

Thanks to an app called countable, I will be more up to date on what congress is actually doing without relying on media news feeds or listening to social action networks.  So my words will be more in line with what is actually going on, when it is going on, and will be appropriate responses.  I’m cutting down my intake of social media even more, and plan to keep my news intake to a minimum (10 minutes on NPR during a news update should be enough.)

I still firmly believe that human rights are not something that should be a political football; that they transcend politics, no matter what your race, creed, religion or your sexuality.  I also believe that we still need to be caretakers of this great earth of ours.  She is a giver of life, not a resource to be mined uncontrollably.  At this point I don’t care if you call me a liberal, a conservative, or whatever.  These fights transcend politics.  They are things that should be embedded in our hearts, and our actions day in and day out should reflect them.

I wish sometimes that I wasn’t the type of person that pushes through conflict.  I sometimes wish things were easier than what they have to be.  I wish for it, but I already know that this is one wish I shouldn’t have granted.  It’s the one thing that won’t change.  We live, we struggle, we grow from the struggle, and the growth allows us to get ready for the next struggle.  I guess this time the struggle is simply something outside my comfort zone.  The cycle sounds simple enough, but it is the basis for all of the growth of this planet.  It is so embedded in our DNA that it’s a part of growth itself.  And even though it’s a hard cycle to continue, by doing our best to honor it we also honor those that were a part of putting this cycle into motion.

Taking Action

I didn’t want to start writing political posts.  I didn’t want to be a political activist.  For most of my adult life, speaking up when something mattered to me as well as voting in each election was enough.  Most of the rest to me was just noise.  But now in the political and polarized society that is now the United States.   I can’t just be someone who just watches what happens anymore.  Too many people are using this election as the excuse to demean and downright bully their fellow man.  I can’t stand idly by and watch that happen.

My own introverted self would much rather go back to talking about my own self-improvement and my own spiritual exercises.  I would also much rather continue to stretch myself by providing intuitive messages to help others in their own quests for knowledge and improvement.  But that isn’t the world we live in anymore.  And that is something that I become painfully aware of the minute I get on social media and see the news.  We are a nation that is more polarized, angry and full of fear.  And we have to do something about it.

It took me more time than I expected, but I have been figuring out things that I can do to help matters.  I already know my activism will be much different than someone else, and that’s alright.  We all need to be able to help in our own way.  So what my activism is going to look like is below.  I offer it as ideas for others to shape their own.

I don’t care who you voted for anymore. People might not like to hear this, and I understand.  But the truth of the matter is that almost half of the people in this country voted for someone whom almost the other half believes to be immoral in some form or fashion.  Another group voted for someone else whom others feel is immoral.  And another significant portion of this country didn’t vote.  Now we can choose to continue the polarization of the United States by just trying to side with 1/3 to 1/2 of the nation that believes exactly like we do, or we can try to give the benefit of the doubt that some people voted the way they did because they felt like they had no other choice.  Some of the long conversations that I’ve had since the election include those who call themselves republicans, and yet are just as upset as I am at the violence that they see happening.  In those conversations we have acknowledged that violence has happened on both sides of the political spectrum, and that violence against anyone isn’t getting us anywhere.

If someone clearly disrespects someone else based on their creed, race, gender, belief or ethnicity, that is a different story entirely. In that case we know why they voted the way they did and they don’t have my support.  And I will do my best to keep my eyes open to prejudice and do what I can to combat it.   But until someone’s actions tell me otherwise, I’m willing to do what I can to provide support to anyone who needs it.

I will respectfully listen to what you have to say, but you better back it up with credible news sources.  In turn, others need to respectfully listen to me and should I bring up an incident, I better be able to back it up as well.  Media spin is crazy, and it’s keeping us polarized.  Everything is getting spun depending on who it is that is writing the story.  Even this weekend, there is already lots of spin regarding Vice President Elect Mike Pence being ‘bullied’ and ‘called out’ when he went to see the musical Hamilton.  He wasn’t ‘bullied’, as some still believe.  There is a video of the actual situation that is floating out there that I’ve watched, and the most accurate story that I have seen that matches the video is here.  If you won’t be respectful of me, then I have no choice to put you in the group that I spoke about above, and you aren’t worth my time or energy to address.  And in that case, you have probably made up your mind a long time ago, and refuse to think anyone else could be right.

It’s time to be active on what the real issues are. We are going to see lots of memes, hear lots of talking points and discussion on what is said by the elected leaders in the next four years.  But none of that matters until it gets into the actions of the government when they take over January 20.  Even the proposed attorney general needs to have confirmation by the United States Senate, and he didn’t pass a confirmation previously because of his racial comments.  So instead of posting memes and replying to comments, perhaps it’s time to start calling our current and new senate leaders and start voicing our opposition now.  And if that doesn’t work, volunteering or giving money to the ACLU and other civil rights organizations so that they can continue to fight on our behalf are other good ideas.

I’m not saying protesting is a bad idea.  Protesting is utilizing our first amendment rights, and it’s very important.  But we need to have a multi-faceted approach to our political work now.  And where I may not be able to protest, I’m going to at least make the calls and write the letters.

It’s time to be active on a metaphysical level. One of the things that has been very effective in the past is when pagans unite at a specific date and time to send prayers and energy to help overcome a situation.  If we can do that more often, even once a month, it may help to lessen the effects that we have to deal with for the next four years.  So I’m working with some friends in order to figure out how something like that would work.  Perhaps if we start organizing these types of things a week or two in advance, more people can participate.  This would also allow us to focus our energy on what is needed the most at a specific time.  Further, any network that is put together I want to see done on a private level.  That way each person has a choice to promote the event or not, and are not immediately ‘outed’ by joining a certain Facebook or Google+ group.  I will provide more detail as things progress on that front (or comment here if you would like to have that information when it is ready).

 

One thing is clear to me; here in the United States, we will need to fight to keep the things that we have achieved.  We are not going to win on everything, but if we can stick together, we can help lessen the effects of this administration, and perhaps become more united than we are right now.

 

 

 

The Next Steps

Yesterday I talked about how I realized that I was falling into the polarized mess that became this election.  Today, I still feel just as upset about who it was that won, but not because of that polarization.

The path of polarization has only brought hate and fear.  I learned that lesson from my own upbringing, and I learned it again yesterday.   We can no longer afford to automatically assume that someone who looks or thinks different than ourselves is the enemy.  We can no longer afford to get into the same arguments over and over, and have elections be ‘us v them’ like they have been for the past 20 years. We need to find a better way, and I believe that part of that way is trying to understand each other, to teach and educate, and not respond so harshly to one another.

That being said, we still have to stand for our own values, and ensure that everyone…EVERYONE has the same basic human rights.

Today, now more than ever, I fear for those who look, think and act differently. I fear for those who were just starting to feel safe loving someone that society says they should not. I fear for those who choose to be what society says not to.   We, who look more like we ‘fit in’, need to do what we can to help.  We need to say some thing when we see injustice, and be prepared to act if necessary.

I remember a bumper sticker I saw once, “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.”  Yes, I am outraged.  And yes, I’m upset.  It’s going to be a long, hard 4 years.  And that’s why my next steps are still going to have to include backing off of my intake of media attention.  And I’m backing off and filtering my social media feeds as well.  With the exception of National Public Radio (NPR), which is the least biased media I can find, I need to do this.  And my best is that I’m not the only one who should consider this.  We are only going to burn ourselves out if we start scrutinizing every move our government makes from this point on.  There will be plenty to be outraged about.  But we sill need to live our lives as well.  We still need to give ourselves rest and allow ourselves to heal.  What good will we be to others if we are burnt out from hearing story after story that induces frustration and anger?  We have to choose our battles now, and choose wisely.

There will be people out there with a better constitution than I who will be more active than I.  That doesn’t mean what I’m doing isn’t enough.  It means they will do what it is that they can, and I will do what I can.  I’m already thinking about what I can change in my budget to allow for more money to go to organizations like the ACLU, and other organizations that support LGBT rights.  Where others cannot afford to help monetarily, perhaps I can.

Finally, and what perhaps may be the hardest, we still have to reach out to those who think differently than we do.  We still should not judge others immediately by what we think they mean.  We need to be respectful, and we need to let their actions tell us what they truly feel and believe.  If they don’t believe in the basic premise of human decency, of basic human rights, THEN we need to get to work.  But until then, we need to see more people as potential allies, because we are going to need every one of them we can get to step forward together.

I Won’t Give Up Hope

 

Many times when I visit her, my mother likes to start ranting about her feelings about politics and the generations of people after her own.  She is of the baby boomer generation, and, of course, is also a child of two of members of greatest generation (those who endured World War II).

Some of her most repeated gripes include the level of stamina between generations.  She feels the greatest generation was the strongest generation we ever had; in work ethics, in principals and in morality.  Her generation, she believes is strong as well, but not as strong as her parents.

And then, there are the Gen-Xers, the millennials and the other generations that followed. In her mind, we all have significant weaknesses, specifically when it comes to ethics and when we need to put in a hard day’s work.  She gets mad when I speak about the work that my husband and I do, how we don’t depend on anyone else but ourselves and haven’t for a very long time.  She also gets very mad when I talk about how there are a lot of very good people in this world – my age and younger – that happen to work harder and longer than I ever would.  Some of these people have done significant things to change the world.

My father tries to chime in too; but only to throw a more judgmental spin on things.  He believes everyone from California are just too liberal for their own good, and that there is such a thing called reverse racism.

My parents are role models to me, but not for the reason you think.  They are role models for me to learn what NOT to become.  But thanks to this election, I almost got there anyway.

All the way through the primary, I was one of those people who were posting about how one candidate is bad for the country.  I was posting about the concerns of racism, the bigotry, the narcissism, and on and on.  I became polarized on this candidate and his supporters.  I focused on how horrible things would be if this person was elected, and expected everyone else to see what it was that I saw.

This polarization made me miss something else entirely.  I missed the fact that people are scared.  They are genuinely afraid of how things were going, afraid of the change that the past 8 years has brought, and fueled by that fear, they came out in mass to vote.

Now yes, many people are going to pour over the data of this past election for years to come, many much smarter than I, and give other reasons why my candidate didn’t win.  But no matter what they say, however many years from now, they won’t remember the underlying fear that was carried in the hearts of Americans through this entire process.  They won’t remember the media that fueled that fear, the memes on Facebook and other social media.  The polarization, the ‘what ifs’, and everything else that went along with it.

Now I see one way my parents could get so carried away into their judgement and hate.  And now I’m doubly determined not to do the same.

I’m going to make more changes now so that I don’t become polarized again.  I’m putting filters in place on my social media sites, and am going to strictly limit my news intake from now on.  I’m going to do my best to check all sources as I go.  And most of all, I’m going to try to remember that we are all human first.

I’m not going to give up hope that people can still be helped, love can still win, and that we are all striving to be better.

I’m not going to give up hope that we are all doing the best we have with what we are given.

And I’m not going to give up hope on my country.

Don’t get me wrong, when I see bullying or actions against others I’m still going to call it out.  That is my duty now more than ever.  I still have to do what I feel is right.  But now, I have to consider other actions.  Those actions might be donating what I can to more organizations, volunteering my time, saying prayers, doing ritual and just doing more to carefully consider someone else’s opinion.

Now more than ever, we need to unite with each other, our community and try to step forward as a whole.

Photo from Deviant Art

It’s OK to not be one side or the other

division_by_ageofloss

My greatest challenges in learning to form my own opinions have happened this week.  With all of the events happening right here and now, many of my friends have started to post about what ‘side’ they are taking.  Memes are littering my Facebook feed that alter from making me shocked to making me upset, and occasionally I even agree and ‘like’ one of them.

But the biggest challenge has been when I post one of my own.  Recently, it was one regarding the state of education in the United States (yep, it’s in a bad state).  And immediately a Facebook friend took me to task for being ‘anti teacher’.

Now the meme had nothing to do with teachers.  Instead, it said that the education system needs to be fixed to help straighten out the mess that would ensure someone like Donald Trump would be voted in as a political candidate.  But immediately, the “us” vs. “them” started.  And even though I started giving examples of why I agreed that the teachers weren’t always the problem, I walked away from the posts being frustrated.

There is a lot of bias in this world.  Everyone has a bias – there is no getting around that.  If you think, you have opinions, and you judge input coming into you by those opinions.  And in today’s world where the media is for whatever reason focused on the negativity, or is biased based on the needs of the media source, opinions have become very sharp.  People expect you to either be with them, or against them in your beliefs.  The common ground has shrunken significantly, like I experienced with my teaching Facebook friend.

This environment of acute opinions and taking sides has caused significant harm, and I think there is a lot more harm that people don’t realize that is being done.  A whole generation of young people are watching what we do; watching social media and seeing the comments and arguments.  They are watching Fox News and learning from their parents how to be on the ‘right’ side, and to hate the ‘wrong’ side.

I especially have felt the harm caused by being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.  When I was growing up, I was always questioning things.  I won’t go into details, as I’ve had past posts that have had examples, at least from a religion standpoint.  But realize that same frame of mind my family had was not just limited to religious beliefs.  If I had questions about a specific preference, why someone dressed the way they did, why I grew up in a specific school or anything that might sound like it challenged my parent’s comfort zone of beliefs, I was slapped down.   ‘Because that was just the way we ARE,’ they would say.  ‘Because we don’t associate with THEM,’ was another one.   And my favorite, ‘Because that is what we BELIEVE.’

Well, Why DO we believe that?  No answer.  Or that is when I would be sent away, sent to my room, or the subject would be changed.

It’s only now when I’m 41 years old that I realize the problems that upbringing had on me.  Not that I share those limiting opinions, but because I was never ALLOWED to ASK questions, or VOICE MY OWN opinion.  Because I got slapped down, I never was able to learn to talk with someone of a differing opinion and understand why they were that way.  I was never able to understand and speak to why I believe the way I do.

Fast forward to the current time.  Now I deal with the fact that I am actually afraid to put my opinions out there because others would not approve, and even worse, belittle me for what I believe.   That’s what I got when I was young after all!

I don’t know if it is because of all the ways I was ‘slapped down’ as a child, or if it is because of being the type of person I am now, but there is one very big thing that I am trying to do as I heal from this tidbit of abuse I suffered growing up.  And that very big thing is trying to be understanding.

People can have opinions and beliefs that they stick to.  They can fiercely defend those beliefs all they want.  But they have to accept that others may have a differing opinion, and that they can agree and disagree on the smaller points within those issues without losing face.

  • You can accept the rights of gun owners and still want stricter legislation.
  • You can accept that there is a significant problem with the treatment of minorities in this country and still believe that there are good police that do their job every single day.
  • You can be a democrat and recognize that some republicans actually have good ideas.
  • You can recognize that we have a lot of good teachers in our education system. And we have some really putrid ones too.
  • You can accept the fact the black lives matter movement has some serious points of contention and not be racist.
  • You can recognize that the terms Pagan and Heathen have personal meanings for different people.
  • You can be a happy christian and understand that other people have other religions that are different than you and still fulfill the same purpose as you.

Where I will draw the line however is when someone deliberately doesn’t get their facts straight.  If you aren’t actively seeking out media that has as minimal bias as possible; if you are getting your facts from ‘wehategunowners.com’, or ‘liberalmediasucks.com’ or whatever sites that are out there that focus on one side or the other, then there is a serious issue.  We have to be willing to look at other people’s beliefs and understand why they have them.  And the people we are trying to understand have to be willing to show what they believe without fear that they will be mocked, and have the courage to put their belief out there with the possibility that better facts may come along that don’t support it anymore.  And when those facts come along, we all have to have the strength to recognize the stance is outdated, and it’s time to move on.

So one thing I can say from my upbringing, at least I understand from it now what not to be.  I don’t want to be someone who believes something because that is what they were told.  I want the facts, I want to understand the issues.

It’s hard to be the one to reach out and try to ask those questions.  It’s taking me a lot of courage to do so, especially because I am so very afraid I’m going to be punished for it still.  But I believe it is something that needs to be done.  And perhaps someone will see my actions and try to start thinking the same way.

Photo from Deviant Art