In my house there are 7 people, my fantastic partner his three children from a previous marriage and my two children from my previous marriage. <–already this line will warrant concerns, condemnation, and ridicule, but for the sake of the holiday, please render the patience to hear me out.
Both of us were raised Catholic (if you are a frequenter of my blogs you already know this, however, sorry for the repetition….), but in adult life, veered. I am agnostic, my children attend a local catholic private school, and I am open with them and communicate with them my struggles in faith during my life, when they ask. I make it clear that some amount of doubt is ok, that is how perspective is found. The best debaters in the world know both sides, their arguments, pros, and cons, and do not condemn either side for their beliefs. They accept them for what they are and what the believe and move on. They do not fear what they don’t know, they seek out information and research. Knowledge is power, but understanding is stronger. They understand the elements that make up the whole.
One thing that has never wavered however is my belief that there is a higher power out there, whatever, whomever, etc. I just do not like organized religions, intolerability for one another and differences. Neither does he. But he is an atheist. And I thank God everyday for my atheist. My children, like i were raised with religion, Christian holidays celebrated, awareness and respect, however, of Jewish celebrations as well (as my uncle is Jewish). We were not raised with indoctrination of a faith as the central focal point, but in indoctrination of ethics and morals-the ten commandments, giving, guilt, and gratefulness, first, and education and knowledge seeking behavior second-above all other things i.e. actions, possessions, and the like, that are found in life. Many people call this living the faith-as typically the basic rules of this do not change through various religions or even legal codes. And it becomes more about a giving and good behavior lifestyle than a or any religion. His children have never been raised in any faith, nor baptized, nor made to go to church, except for where and when relatives were married, christened/baptized, etc.and even then it was optional once they could watch themselves. They were taught either through commentary or implication, that religion and God were false and bad, and ok to make fun of. The are public school kids, all the way, and a symbol of the area they are raised, which is unfortunate, because they could have been so much more. They were taught, again, either in commentary or implication, that if it is there I should take as much as it i can get, mine, gimme, gimme, mentality, especially if it is free for me to take. This makes life sometimes on our house very challenging-because my children and I are made a mockery of , or disresected either in a joke or blatently, due to their fear and insecurity, in what they don’t know and fear them may want to accept, even if it is not popular to their peers or their ego. I am not saying they need to find God or faith. I am merely saying they need to be taught to be better and more respectful people. Good manners start with please and thank you, but they don’t end there. There is a lot more involved, and they dont have it-nor do their real parents step up to fix it. Which in my mind, and my opinion is a terrible disservice to the children that are tomorrow’s adults.
When this occurs I talk to my children. It does not happen often, as Shane and i have had major discussions about this in the past prior to living together. I tell them those are the children that need the most patience. They were taught no better. The were taught to support all kinds in issues like ethnic and gender equality, homosexual freedom, and the like-but not to accept all religions as being good in intention,and ok to accept freely for what they are. Regardless of how you look at it, belief in the unknown, and gratitude for the vastness it provided came before organized society and historical rule. Anthropologically and historically speaking- higher, divine, god/god-like deity rule came first. Some of the laws that atheists support and are protected by came from religious roots. Even cavemen hurt, when some one took their stuff without asking. Even in isolated tribes, there are rules against unnecessary killing (there are also human sacrifices otherwise called offerings, and retributive killings, as well). In many cases of early civilizations from egypt to Mesopotamia, to Inuit, viking, migratory tribes, there were laws to avoid upsetting the god(s)and there were thanks for the blessings, and they honored their dead, and many times also the ruler or leader was perceived to have been vested “god-like” traits or powers, or the ability to link up with the heavens. Because of this i am able to smile through ridicule, knowing that they are, albeit years removed, shooting themselves in the foot they stand on. And by telling me that you believe in nothing, and I reply that you still believe, much to their dismay, and many times with a bit of explanation that the term believe is a verb, an act, and/or action-regardless of the noun that follows, or what you are going to believe in, follows, the act is still committed and then they leave frustrated. It is hypocrisy at its finest.
I have attached a link here to a commentary written by Ben Stein, the actor. I believe it to be of much consideration and thought-provoking. I believe it also to be appropriate, and will in fact read it to my family, for even if they leave the table in visible or vocal doubt- or in foolish ridicule-it will sink in at least part of the way. When we put our differences on the clothes line to dry, we draw attention to the separations that exist, many times playing, of being played on or by the divide and conquer mentality. But if we look down the row of clothes lines and only see pants, shirts, and underpants-not their size or color or brand- imagine how much more acceptance this world and country can render. We can all coexist, but we cannot without a few basic principles-thou shall not kill, thou shall not steal, do on to others as you want to be treated….-you get my point. Live a good life, regardless of your beliefs. Help others, give, and appreciate being given to, and most of all be thankful and grateful to whom or what ever you feel contributed to you and yours. Be respectful. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. If it is a concern that needs to be stated, but will hurt or be percieved as mean-even with the best of intention, wait until you are calm to express it. If the reciever does not want to hear it they wont. if they make a joke of it, or at a bad time with the intent to make a point, walk away. By calling it to thier attention you did what you could. You showed you cared enough to speak up. You can only control your actions. And if you alone act ith the best of intentions and a smile, and do good overall, you are one less person in the world hurting another.
Even though it hurts. Even if you know deep down you are correct, but still are made fun of or disrespected, realize that your actions and voice show you are not in fear. They are.
Until next time,