On Religion

I’ve always tried to keep my space on the internet positive. Even when I was at some pretty low points, it was always my goal to complain in such a way that it didn’t leave everyone feeling negative or heavy of heart afterwards. This was especially difficult when writing some of the update posts on the German Chronicles. I may have failed completely, but I still tried to keep the posts from draining anyone.

The thing is, some stuff has been going on recently. I have a deep-set need to swipe all of it under the rug, but, at the same time, I have this platform and I mean to use it. There’s no use in complaining from the sidelines about everything that gets us down, while we refuse to dirty our hands to fix it. So get ready for some topics on my blog that people may not be willing to discuss.

I don’t want to start a war here, I just want to get some stuff off my chest. Hopefully, it’s going to breed tolerance and not more anger / hate.

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I am a Christian and I love God. If you didn’t know that, you do now. It’s a part of who I am.

I could almost feel the force of everyone clicking away from this post, just because of that statement. You’re not alone. When people profess to my face that they’re Christians, I often become distrustful of them.

Let me tell you straight off the bat that people from my religion have treated me (and people I love) with the most judgement and contempt that I’ve ever experienced in my life. Religious abuse is a real thing and it’s dangerous. Like any kind of abuse, it leaves deep scars, with soul-deep damage. In fact, it’s traumatic and may take years to get over. Don’t think because it’s done in a righteous manner that it’s less evil to the person that suffers it.

There are members of my family and circle of friends who refuse to put their feet in a church, due to the acts of others who find themselves in a church regularly. I’ve faced harsh judgements over many of my choices, big and minor, and that led to a lot of scrutiny and whispering behind my back. Writing this post will probably add to that.

I am in no means perfect and I don’t think I’m even near flawless by a long shot. I’m human. I’ve done things in my life that I’m not proud of, but also things that I’m glad for. I stumble, learn and make mistakes. Sometimes the same ones. I strive to be a good person, sure. But there are times when I’m not. I have horrible mood swings, random outbursts and moments where I don’t want to help someone and, you know, other human tendencies. And all of that, despite my religion.

No, not all Christians are hypocrites. I’ve also met some of them that have been the most nonjudgmental, forgiving and endlessly  loving human beings. People who have gone above and beyond what is expected of them. People who would give others everything they had to offer and then still press to find more to give. People who have changed my life and the way I experience the world. My grandmother was one of these.

BUT, and this is a big but, the same can be said for people I know who belong to other religions, or people without religion.

Don’t think because someone is from a different religion than you, that they are automatically a bad person. Even people who don’t follow a religion at all have moral grounds and a code by which they live. They still teach their kids to be good people, eat their veggies and brush their teeth. I have a family member who is an atheist, who has taught me more about love and forgiveness than some of the leaders of my church.

The people in my life consists of all religions and non-religions – everything from agnostic to atheist, to Catholic and Christian, to Muslim, Hindu and Sikh. These are family and friends. We know and love all of them, and, lo and behold, we all get along peacefully.

The problem with religion isn’t religion – it’s the people involved.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that judgement alienates. Human nature makes us put up our defences and strike back whenever we’re threatened, and harsh judgement is a threatening thing. This means arguments that could have been avoided.

I am not here to judge and neither are you.

If someone is of a different ethnicity or religion or sexual orientation or opinion, I have no right to force them to change. In fact, trying to force anyone into my way of thinking will only alienate them – a fact which actually applies to anything in life, from supporting your favourite sports team, to your eating habits, or the more serious topics in life. Forcing someone to conform is mental rape.

Besides, nobody on earth is ever going to live up to another person’s standard of ‘perfect’. We’re all too different. We all think in a unique way, due to the unique set of circumstances that shaped us. And then, as if that didn’t complicate stuff enough, we evolve. Our opinions change with time. No two people will ever completely agree on everything – not marital partners, not parents and their kids, not best friends.

All we’re supposed to do is love each other. As long as we hit each other over the head with our belief, we create intolerance. As long as we’re intolerant, we’re divided. Division leads to hatred. Hatred leads to war. We don’t need more of that.

We need to stop assuming things about people. We need to start treating people with respect and care, even if we don’t like the looks of them. Even if we don’t agree. We need to try and bridge the man-made gap between our various beliefs. We don’t need to like everybody, but we do need to stop making anyone feel they are a lesser person. Especially over what they do or do not believe.

More love. No questions asked. Isn’t that the Biblical message anyway?

Yolandie

 

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