Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Can't we all just get along?

Yesterday I was on this website called "reddit" for a few hours.  For those of you reading this that don't know what reddit is, it's basically a forum sort of deal where people discuss topics about almost anything.  They have memes, lost of pictures to look through, world news topics, video game discussions, politics, etc.  My favorite part of the site is called, "Ask Me Anything" where people from all sorts of situations, careers, events will post about who they are and you can ask them questions.  Comedians, doctors, people that witnessed an event we all know about -- I don't know, just go check it out if you're curious.

The website is set up in a way that looks fairly low-quality, it's mostly just a simple thread on every page, which is good because to me that says that the content is more important than the look.  The top of the page has tabs where you can click on topics, and I was exploring various things on the site when I realized that one of the main tabs for clicking on the site is just simply:  ATHEISM. 

I looked at that title for a good 30 seconds, pondering if I should click or not.  As a Christian, I have an issue with the topic, because I have not always encountered atheists that were considerate of other people's feelings when they expressed that they believe in a higher power.  I was predicting pictures making fun of religious people and a lot of people praising Richard Dawkins' douchebaggery.  I decided to click it anyway, when I came upon a topic that read:

"Hello reddit, I'm a christian mother and my son just told me he is atheist. I'm not against him but being atheist but It is difficult for me to accept. I thought you guys might be able to at least help me accept this a little or show me some valid reasons for his choice."
 In case anyone wants to read the comments, I left that quote as a link.  

So, my first reaction was a general feeling of sadness.  I felt sad for the mother that it must hurt that her child doesn't hold the same beliefs that she has held almost her entire life.  I felt sad about how her son must have felt that he had to go to his parents and possibly feel as though he would be a disappointment.  I felt sad that this family may fight about this issue for years.

What was surprising to me, were the reactions from other Atheists.  Most of them were pretty nice about it, although there was still a sense of "I know more than you, let me enlighten you away from being enlightened from religion".  Then there were the Atheists that were very condescending, along with other Christians that were equally zealous and lecture-y.  I actually started to cry, reading all the responses and seeing people go back and forth, so far to the right or left or the argument.  The whole idea of Atheists and Christians or Jews or other religious people being at this giant standoff about one of the most important decisions of their lives, (that being whether they believe in God, even though some people don't consider it that important or they just don't care either way) it was truly and severely stressing me out!

Of course I had to leave a reply, although I have no idea if she had read it.  It essentially consisted of, "Hey, coming from another Christian you just have to love your son and don't let him feel any resentment from your end.  He's 16, maybe in another year he'll decide he's Jewish or whatever.  You should encourage him to read some books on other religions and try to approach things as an agnostic and see what he gets out of it.  He hasn't even been to college yet, it's not too late for him to make some sort of other decision.  As long as you're a good mother, he'll still turn out to be a good person.  Praying for your family to have peace during this time of tension and stress."

I have left churches in the past because I wasn't considered, "Christian enough" for them.  About a year ago I was told that because I hadn't been in a bible study every week and sitting in a pew every single Sunday, and making friends with women in the church to "lead me in the right direction", that I was not allowed to participate in the worship band on Sundays and sing.  I know that I've lost friends because I wasn't Christian enough for them.  Even if they wouldn't admit that it's why we lost touch, it was an underlying feeling that was had when we would talk about personal choices and friendships with other people etc., where I just knew that they were semi-judging me.  It even made me consider whether we were really friends in the first place, or I was just a member of the club and they were nice to me until they had me figured out as, "less than" the standard they were taught to follow.

I would never let these circumstances affect my belief in God, Jesus, spirituality, meditation, or any of that.  I swear, I drink with my friends, I have a boyfriend that is not what those friends would call a Christian, but I have been told on many occasions that people still notice something different about me.  People have asked me if I was a Christian without ever knowing if I went to church and I hadn't said a thing, solely based on my attitude and mannerisms, which is very surprising.  Maybe it's a maturity thing, maybe it's God shining a light of general positivity through me, I can't explain what it might be. 

There has to be something to at least the belief in a higher power, even if that only means that there's a scientific connection between feeling balanced spiritually and being a genuinely happy person so it shows to other people.  Is being "enlightened" just a feeling of balance?  Just as people that believe in a Creator and it balances them, I guess people that believe in nothing find balance somehow but I don't really know what that is since it's not usually something that Atheists or Agnostics talk about.

When most people think of "Christians" if they are not one, a lot of the time they think of Republicans, anti-choice picketers, gay-haters and general nonacceptance of non-Christians.  But that's not me.  I go to church with gay people, and I'm a liberal Democrat, but I pray every night before I go to bed.  All this, and a lot of the time I just feel like a bit of a loner when it comes to my personal beliefs.  Sure, my mother and my aunt and a few of my friends are in the same boat as me.  We all just say, "Hey believe what you want, and leave other people alone, let's all have freedom and choice and balance."  But other people don't like that "feel-good-Joel-Osteen-Jesus" approach to life.  They all have to be right.

I'm ashamed of either side most of the time, for being so against each other.  Maybe I should get one of those hippie-style "CoExist" bumper stickers.  I get so upset with Atheists for thinking they have everything figured out, and with zealots of any religion for going against the principles of their beliefs when they don't accept others and they're judgmental.  Heck, I could be wrong with my "let's all just get along and let people do what they want" approach.  Maybe there's nothing out there.  Or maybe being gay is wrong (I highly doubt that one though!)  Am I going to go to hell for just trying to see the bright side of things and bring us all together?

Years ago, when I decided I was a Christian, I still stuck to my guns and I didn't take everything the bible said in the Old Testament as my motto for life.  I still studied Judaism, explored, prayed, meditated, and tried my darndest to keep a connection with God to make sure that I knew He was there for me.  Maybe I'm nuts and it's all in my head, but I've said it before and I'll say it again,

I would rather live the rest of my life believing in something that quite possibly isn't there, than to die and find out that there is.

Stop acting like you know everything, when you probably know nothing.