Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Religion, Faith, and Beliefs, Or Keep It In Your Pants

So, I saw this posted the other day and, rather than post a long thing on Facebook about it, I decided to move it here. 
Alright, other than the initial OMGLOLs, this got me thinking about the attitudes of people in regard to their respective beliefs. Here is another nugget of internet wisdom:

And though this says "religion," it really goes for anything that could be quantified as a belief or opinion. Your position on stem cell research. Atheism. Your position on abortion. Your stance on gay marriage. Your passion for the environment. Your relationship with God, god, or gods. It's all lumped in here, folks. If you are wont to get preachy (in case you haven't noticed, I verge on that myself sometimes), this applies to you. 

It's great that that's your opinion or belief. It's cool that you think about things enough to form those opinions or beliefs. And you should feel free to discuss your beliefs when the topic of discussion turns that way.

Your possession or espousal of certain beliefs does not, however, entitle you to convert the world, nor does it entitle you to belittle those who disagree with you. Just because that's what *you* believe does not automatically mean it is right and/or "the only way."

We have become an increasingly arrogant society in this respect. People seem to think that, because that's the way they believe, they are automatically right and everyone else is automatically wrong and all those other people just need to get on board and shut up. Sorry, y'all, but that is just not the case.

We are a nation founded on the idea that people can say what they like without fearing repercussions. So yes, you are allowed to be an incredible ass. However, so is the "other."

Personally, I pride myself on my ability to discuss sensitive subjects with people with whom I may disagree fervently without offending the other person or getting offended myself. I love it that I have friends that are capable of talking about things like religion, abortion, and politics without resorting to heated emotionality. It's all about rational discussion and respectful statement of your own position.

Now, I'll concede that if I see someone doing something that I think is detrimental to themselves or others, or that I think it downright stupid, or I hear them express an opinion that is downright wrong or painfully judgmental, I am hard-pressed to remain polite and civil. The ADHD part of my brain that has a hard time with impulse control wants to blurt out "Are you f***ing kidding me? What're you, retarded?!" However, discretion is the better part of valor, and as one of the values I esteem the most is the ability to hold rational, reasonable conversation with a person with whom I disagree, I work hard to rein that in.

The real issue is this: we all need to work a little harder at both understanding and compassion. Trolling everyone who disagrees with you may make you feel a little better at the outset, but it doesn't get you any closer to finding a middle ground.  The more hatred you spew, the less likely the other side is going to listen to what you have to say.

How about trying this:

The next time someone voices a differing opinion, rather than succumbing to the desire to insult them into a gibbering puddle of tears, try thinking. 

I know; it's hard.

Try thinking about where they're coming from. Try thinking about who they are. If it's someone you've known for a long time, think of what you know of that person and what might have led them to come to those conclusions. Think about how it would make you feel if they resorted to an emotional and confrontational response when you voiced your opinions.

Just think for a second, people.

Remember when you were little and someone told you you were wrong when you *knew* you were right? But the other person *knew* you were wrong? And after a little talking, you realized you were wrong, but you were too proud to admit it, so you'd punch them and run away? 

Can we all grow out of that, please? 

If you're wrong, own it.

If you're right, be gracious. 

If there is no right or wrong answer (which is the case with religion/faith/beliefs/whatever, whether anyone wants to acknowledge it or not), realize it and let it go.

As long as people are living healthy, happy lives in which they handle their business and aren't harming themselves or anyone else, the rest of it is up to them. What they have going on in their hearts is between them and their own personal Powers That Be (if they have any).

Live and let live, y'all.


  1. The trouble is when you think a belief is harmful and that having those beliefs makes society weaker rather than stronger - not everything is covered by "im ok - your ok" sadly. For example - if I meet someone who really believes women are inferior and should be subservient to man (I have met many and god is usually involved) I'm usually going to say something.

  2. Which is totally fair! :) I'm mainly talking about the people who "run their mouth" because "that's what the other guys do." It gets real old, real quick.

    I want to advocate taking the high road. There are enough people who troll for the sake of trolling, but don't help the situation at all.