...wait for it...
...wait for it...
...you know where I'm going, right...
Yep. I'm headed down a track that is sure to offend some of you, and start a whole new debate. I again have found myself in that position of having to defend my spirituality from someone who is not ready to admit that there's any "god" but their own.
I had a long, and interesting talk yesterday with not one, but two people. I will not use their names, because that's not necessary. But I received two points of view, and have reached my own conclusion about myself.
The first is a fellow who remembered me from several years ago. I'd come to write a piece about his workplace. A decent man, and I feel a good one, really I do. Hadn't seen him in a while, and he's back in town.
He wears his mask well.
The conversation turned to religion. I'll make no bones about what I think of Organized Religion. I defend to death your right to be what you will be, and are. But I draw the line when you use that "faith" to attack others.
I am sure he didn't mean it as such, but I was under attack.
When a person listens, but does not hear, and continually turns and twists words back through his own prism of belief, a tenuous one at best, and continues to attack you, what is that?
It is not the "faith" that a follower of Jesus should do, IMHO. Jesus (whom I now believe was not a real person, but a fabrication) did not walk about the world tub-thumping...but as Gandhi said in paraphrasing, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."
I recall my Congregational upbringing, until I was 12. I remember sermons and a church led by two of the finest, kindest men I knew then, and find hard to match. Reverend Hazen, and the man who later replaced him, Reverend Fuqua. Two men who treated every single person with kindness, respect and decency.
They did NOT attack with religion, they did NOT try to convert you, they did NOT make you feel inferior and try to make you one of them.
What the fuck happened?
Televangelism, electronic media, and a radical savagery of the faith, and it crosses all boundaries.
The discussion with this fellow reminded me of when I was 15. I was under attack by a teacher, and her fellow born-again haters. A hateful, thinly-veiled cynicism and disgust for all that were not like them.
You may be a Christian, but you are not Christian enough. Ever.
I recall feeling bullied, and attacked, and questioned. I wasn't already good enough as a human being for my own family, let alone this!
I am going to tell you what I am. I am Buddhist. I meditate to Kirtan, and I am a Pagan. Our people were here before Christ's creation as a character, and our people's ways were co-opted, borrowed and stolen.
And they have the nerve to try and wipe us off the map.
They have the nerve to massacre 18 million people in Central America, and wipe out the entire native population of Cuba, in the name of "God" of course.
I do not discount the massacre of a million Armenian Christians in the First World War. I do not discount the massacres during the wars in Bosnia. Nor the 13 million Hitler did to death...not just the Jews, but Cossacks, Krimchaks, Russians of all stripes, and those caught up in the occupied territories. Two million or more murdered during the regime of Pol Pot.
Not to say how many Stalin eliminated. Or Mao Tse-Tung wiped out.
And we see what the "Islamic State" is now doing in the Middle East.
What the fuck happened?
What happened to the Good Samaritan I learned of? What happened to the people who showed respect and kindness to others, regardless of what they looked like or where they came from?
When did faith get caught up in patriotism?
This much I have learned: we cannot change other's minds. We cannot turn others who cling to views that they are fearful of losing. This fellow clearly had his prism, and all thing must pass through it.
I don't think, again, he meant harm. But he would not listen. To him, I am a terrible person, a lost soul, a creature destined for Hell (which does not exist).
And his own self-flagellation is bizarre. A sinner who will never be forgiven, no matter what. A life of existential suffering, and yet...oh yes, he'll be in the Good Land or whatever it's called.
But to suffer that whole way?
Suffering exists. But we do not have to die for it. We can make things better.
I am who I am. I am not perfect, as I'm human. I have tried, believe me I have tried not to hate. I don't believe in it. Hate is too strong, and hate kills.
I don't know of anyone who hates me. I don't know of anyone who despises me. I'm sure some don't like me, but that's fine.
I do not profess to know great truths. "Jesus he knows me, and He knows I'm right...been talking to Jesus all my life." Genesis, the band...heehee.
I call bullshit.
I am Me.
I can trust myself to make the right choices.
I can trust myself to be as mindful as I can.
I take responsibility for this, and all things.
I do not agree with a lot of things, and I don't like a lot of things. I stand against a lot of things, especially the mad cults of Organized Religion. If you go there, it is your business and your decision. I do not say you're bad because of it. I hope it is right for you.
THIS is right for me.
There is One Race. The Human Race. We're it, folks.
Let's stop the hating. Let's stop killing. Let's stop feeling so fucking threatened by every little thing.
I'm gonna do my best. Here's hoping you can too.
We don't need to obsess or talk about IT all the time. To do that leads to the tunnel that you will never escape from.
This is a good world, but we each have to make it good. Stop looking for shit to stir. We can make this thing work, folks.
In my writing, I write what I want to see, not what others tell you you are supposed to see. Does that make sense? I hope so.
NOW...that all said, let me tell you about the second person.
Without going to deeply into it, this individual talked to me in an interview about her life, her career, her family, and what she loves doing. We are artists in our own way, and our own right.
This person, younger than me, showed incredible poise, maturity and sense of place. It has nothing to do with religion, and posing, and hiding behind something.
She was There.
Doing what she loved, and knowing the fulfillment to herself, and to others. Not about money. Not about fame. Not about anything but doing what is right for HER.
In her, I see how the madness can end.
I was reminded of why I write, and why I do the things I do. It is right for me.
Be right for you, and don't let others browbeat you, attack you, piss on you. You cannot change them, and you do not need to change for anyone.
YOU is what is right for you. Change when you need to, and accept the inevitability that it does happen.
I change when I will, not when others dictate it to me.
I go where I will, not when others tell me to.
"An' it harm none, do what ye will."
My sense of place has been restored. I don't know if any of this makes sense, and I'm sure some of you will be stunned by this.
I hate no one. I have malice toward none. I don't blindly love everyone, but I really hope that as we go on, we can be what we will be, but try and respect the differences.
And the similarities.
We are all one...we're all we've got, folks.