Sometimes you just have to speak up.
The oldest social rule is: “never talk about politics or religion”.
There’s a reason, obviously. Both topics tend to bring out the ogres in so many of us.
Never has that been more evident than in the recent American election. Liberals and conservatives were both guilty of demonizing each other. I don’t mean mild condemnation either. I mean full-out balls-to-the-wall judgement and condemnation.
The bright spot in all of it was the number of undecideds who adamantly refused to be pigeon-holed into one mindset or the other.
I suppose at one point I was just as prone to demonizing those who disagreed with me as anyone else. So it’s not like I can claim purity here.
Eventually you get to realize that the world maybe isn’t as black and white as you thought. Kind of scary, isn’t it? Undependable. You want your villains to wear black hats, and your good guys to wear white. You detest those guys with the multi-coloured hats (what? You expected grey? Grey is muddled and muddy and undefined. Rainbow – besides being indicative of gay – is a little more invigorating and alive)
Recently someone close to me has introduced a thinker named Miguel Ruiz – in a book entitled “The Mastery of Love”. He talks about the fact that we are subject to a hell of a lot of guilt. Unnecessary guilt. It comes from so many sources too. Religion is a big one: both Catholic and Jewish children are subject to it. Fundamentalist Christians (Baptists, some Pentecostalists) believe that we are born depraved and icky and pretty stinking awful and that it’s only through the grace of a benevolent being that we have any worth at all. And those who don’t believe in that benevolent being are utterly lost and depraved forever.
It doesn’t matter if they hold love in their hearts for others. Or if they indulge in charity or look out for strangers. They’re lost and depraved and so very very icky. Probably beat up their cats too.
The dichotomy of atheists’ loving attitudes and what we were taught about unbelievers always bugged me on a subliminal level. I learned not to question it though: my mind decided that a lot of deception was involved and so I likely wasn’t seeing them as they truly were.
My mind was right: there *was* deception. It was an innocent one though, and one based upon a lot of wrong assumptions.
Assumption #1: that any one man or religion has all of the answers.
So not true. I think the universe, or God or whatever you want to call it, has indeed created a force for curiosity. It’s how we grow at all. It’s how we progress in the sciences. Curiosity – the nemesis of the complacent and rigidly correct intelligentsia.
I think that a true appreciation of reality will result in a humble realization that it’s not possible to know everything. Such paucity of assuredness fertilizes the ground of curiosity and questing. When your feet sink deep into the sod of uncertainty there’s a heightened expectation of wonder. A “what’s next?” that keeps your heart racing.
Assumption #2: that those who think differently have a devilish agenda.
This assumption is born from a belief – not a fact – that one’s experience is normal, usual. And so anyone who’s had the same experience as us necessarily must have evolved the same way. It’s that core. It seems to be visceral to a great number of people.
What if you met someone who didn’t have any of those preconceptions? What if you met someone who had joy and not a whit of judgement toward anyone else? Someone who was excited and joyfully apprehensive, looking for something great to happen? What if that person infected you with his or her excitement?
You wouldn’t judge him or her. Neither would I.
In fact, you’ve met such a person. I’m positive that you have. I know I have too. At the time I didn’t know whether to believe she was real. Maybe there was a screw loose. Who goes around so happy all the time? But then I realized she was real. He was real. He was curious, so he asked questions. And he/she invited me to the party.
I remember sitting with such people, late at night, in a condo, with the music playing quietly as we drank and talked. It’s so clear in my mind: the moment was magical. It felt like anything could happen. There were zero prejudgments about anything. Judgement wasn’t even on the radar. We were, in effect: People of the Moment.
That’s certainly my desired end state, for all time. I have no tolerance for intolerance. *grin*
I think it’s a worthy goal. What do you think?