If there is one single group of people that has tended to stomp on my sense of self-worth and my belief in God, it has been members of the organized religious community.
For the most part, atheists and agnostics and members of small religious communities are perfectly okay to nod agreeably. As long as I’m not going to damage them or try to teach my beliefs to their children, they’re like whatever, man.
Religious people on the other hand? Let me tell you a true story.
There was this guy named Jesus. He came to earth with a really good message. You know this story. He was nailed to a cross and left there until he died slowly, in agony. People who don’t know a lot about theology will tell you this was because he was a nice guy. But no, the real shocker was that he told a bunch of rigid monotheists that he was God.
That kind of thing could get you killed 2,000 years ago. Now if you tell someone you’re God – or that you talk to God in some “special way” – they’ll just nod politely and say “I’ve heard stranger things.”
Before, they would kill your body. Now, they’re smart enough to go straight for your soul, to listen in apparent admiration to your entire life story and then say they don’t “have time” to help you with the aftermath. Good thing I don’t depend on other people for my sense of self-worth.
Religious authorities like to blame things like scientific materialism for people’s lack of faith. Come on. The rest of the world was over that ages ago. In my experience, the priests of the world are the ones who have kept a stranglehold on the imagination, deeply terrified of what might happen if their flocks start to think for themselves. Anything could happen. We might decide to start our own religions….
People occasionally tell me I should start my own religion. My response has always been why would I want to do that? Do you have any idea how hard it is to start even a minor religious organization? Then, I had an even better idea. As my girl Avasarala would be quick to point out: guys will do just about anything to Feel Important. If you want them to build, administer, and lord it over a religious organization, just let them wear some fancy clothes and get some titles. They will do most of your work for you.
Anyway, back to religious tolerance. Start your own religion, worship with neo-pagans, disbelieve in any kind of supernatural beings – and that’s fine with me. I could care less, so long as you’re not harming anybody. I’ve had a long, exhausting life. You do your own thing. I’ll be here, chilling.
True story: I was a Solitaire Witch once, but I prefer Mass gatherings.
As for “hearing voices” and our messed-up value systems in general.
Maybe you’re the crazy one if you never dare to dream, to imagine, if you’ve never once had an interior “dialogue” about what to wear, where to go to dinner, what you’ll say to your boss the next day.
Come on, we all have little wars going on inside our heads. What if some people phrase the terms of that war differently? Some of us like to write pro and con lists, and some of us like to write out pro and con symphonies. I often create entire pro and con opera librettos. True confession: I have had entirely too much time on my own.
Maybe some of us prefer to keep the arguments internal, with little hand puppets in our head to say things like:
Puppet 1: I am the greatest janitor on earth
Puppet 2: But what about Rob?
Puppet 3: Oh yeah, I hate Rob.
Puppets in Unison: Let’s get him.
Clear throat. That would be a bad voice, the kind of bad voice you might want to acknowledge before you wind up having to explain yourself in court.
Here are some alternate ideas:
- Let’s do a great job. Rob may still get the promotion, but I will know my own worth.
- I need to find a new job where they appreciate me.
- I will take up finger-painting to relieve stress, because I’m mostly here for the paycheck, so who cares anyway.
When in doubt, chocolates and long walks help. Long walks are really great in that they make you feel better in the long run. So I’ve been told by the good voices in my head, the ones who know I would secretly prefer to get away with the chocolate.
The voices in my head also understand that I am a work in progress.
As I said, I think there’s something deeply wrong with us here in the western world. We have forgotten how to honor our dreams. We’ve somehow become so desensitized that we don’t know how to stand up for those dreams together. Maybe we need some kind of dreamers group.
If only we the dreamers could come together for the common good, and if only we could follow the best interests of our own ideals.
There’s a real miracle right? But – guess what – it’s in our power. We could choose to stop pretending to obey the law and obey the law – by, say, treating all kinds of people with basic dignity. If not, you might actually live to regret it.
Click here for the next post in the series, We All Mess Up Sometimes.