I don’t have all the details, and I’m terribly sorry if you came here hoping for information about what actually happened in Brussels today. What I know is that many people died, more were injured, and that because of a small group of radicals* (or, as some conspiracy people have begun saying, possibly a group trying to blame the radicals) there is more divergence amongst the people.
When will we all stop letting things like the color of our skin or our personal (private) beliefs affect how we see each other? Why do we have to categorize ourselves into groups of “us” and “them?”
With the tragedy in Brussels, I see a lot of people clamoring about how hateful Muslims are, and I sit and watch their hate and wonder why they don’t see how they are spewing as much hate as they are accusing others of?
It’s not just the religious people doing so.
Last night (when I started this post, and probably the true reason for this post), I was in a bit of a Twitter discussion (I use the term lightly) with a gentleman (again, I use the term lightly) who commented on a post I retweeted about how we should stop being political and remember that people had died.
I read it and thought, “wow! What an enlightening post! I wish more people would stop being divisive and start being kind to one another!”
The man who I had the discussion with instead saw an opportunity to make fun of the people who died for their “sky god…”
Not only was it an inappropriate thing to say based on how recent the attacks happened, but it would have been rude even if the whole world wasn’t still in some stage of mourning!
I, of course, couldn’t help but feed the troll. I found myself dismayed that someone who was an atheist, particularly one of those atheists who supposedly believes in logic, would say something so unabashedly ignorant.
I’m not here to tell anyone what to believe. I’m Native American. I was baptized Lutheran, I have a brother who was baptized Methodist, and now my father is Presbyterian while my mother and grandmother (a woman who went to a Catholic nursing school but was herself a devout atheist until my grandfather past) go to Church of Christ services almost every Sunday. I have studied the old pagan ways (which I’m more comfortable with than the Christian ways), and studied a bit of both Judaism and a very small amount of Islam. I’m completely enthralled with the Hindu stories and beliefs, and, well, we know how I feel about the classic religions.
Thus I think it’s safe to say I don’t follow any particular religion, though I do have certain witchy tendencies.
What I am here to say is that no matter what you believe, you have no right to force your beliefs on anyone else, even if your beliefs are founded in non-belief.
By calling someone’s beliefs “delusions,” or by referencing their deity as a “sky god,” you are showing people the same hate that fuels their terrorism. Your words become fuel to the fires of their passionate desire to destroy you or save you.
Truth, like all things, is relative.
It took me a long time to recognize this. The reason that scientific discoveries require multiple identical results is because of this very fact. If you flip a coin 100 times, logic tells us that you should get an equal number of heads and tails: 50 each, and yet that doesn’t usually happen. Looking at something from a different angle changes your perception of what is “true” or “real.”
Learning that I have Asperger’s and finally understanding that, no, the way I see the world is not how the rest of humanity sees the world, has taught me tolerance in ways I never expected.
My fascination with and thorough reading of Ayn Rand’s work helps me to understand the logic behind the atheists’ argument. The gentleman from today attempted to argue some of her points, though he couldn’t sustain the logic without devolving into insult… And he quoted her incorrectly. He even tried to tell me I was giving credit to the wrong person.
So… perhaps in the above, my tweet was slightly antagonistic… In my defense, he began with that hideous comment about people dying because their “sky god” told them to commit an atrocity, and then when I attempted to use humor to illustrate how rude he was being, he came back with my gods weren’t real either, I felt I had the right to be a bit smug.
Perhaps that was wrong of me.
But I truly feel that all this anger and the need to prove that our individual truths are the ONE AND ONLY UNIVERSAL TRUTH is part of the problem. Muslims, Christians, and Jews all worship the same God, in theory. They are constantly fighting, even though they all recognize themselves as descendants of Abraham… mostly. I’ve met a good many Christians that don’t even know that part. They tell me it doesn’t matter, so long as you accept Jesus as your savior. One woman even told me that it didn’t really matter how I lived, so long as I accepted Jesus as my savior, I would be born again and then I wouldn’t feel a need to sin…
I’m really not convinced that’s how it works. To me, that makes Jesus more of a Fairy Godmother sort of God who grants wishes so long as you believe in him. Like Tinkerbell meets the fairy godmother from Cinderella, but who also does things like turns water into wine and happens to come back from the dead.
I don’t mean to be irreverent, but like I said, I’ve studied religions, went to a Christian college, as a matter of fact, and that’s not how I remember it working.
I suppose the point is this: I get the atheists’ argument. Religion, when you look at some of the stories sound like fairy tales.
But fairy tales have a purpose, too.
They are our morality tales. They give us a code of behavior, they help to mold society, and define us as a culture.
And no, that doesn’t mean that without fairy tales (or religion) that people don’t know how to behave or how to act, but they do bring people together and unite them.
When asked what my religious views are, I often say I believe there is one God with many faces, and the face you worship defines you, not God. If, like in the case of most atheists, Science is your God, that is just as acceptable to me as it would be if you believed in all the Gods of all the pantheons.
It is NOT my place to judge. I can judge you on your actions, but not your reasons. Reasons become important for understanding. Reasons help me to understand you as a person, but I have no right to make a judgment call on you as a person for your reasons.
I may judge you heartily if you have none, but I will always attempt to understand you if you share your reasons with me. In that way we get to know one another, and often, if we truly listen to the other sides reasons, we can find commonalities.
I tried to explain that to the guy on Twitter. He wouldn’t listen. His experiences made him unable to see the similarities in his Truth and the Truth of anyone who believed differently from him, or, as he would say, anyone who followed a “sky god”.
When we come at those who are the “other” with scorn and a desire to change them, we have already lost. We attack them, they go on the defensive, and honest, rational communication cannot be had.
The internet has a word for this: trolls–people who argue and and say inflammatory things just to incite argument. These people are closed-minded and when they argue, they aren’t listening to what the other side says because they are already formulating their rebuttal. The other side will respond in kind. Almost always.
I attempted intellectual discourse, but when he could not make me angry or make me see things from his perspective, the conversation dwindled to insults. He told me to “get the fuck over” his comment about “sky gods;” he told me I was being overly sensitive.
And when I’d finally had enough, he called me condescending.
And when even that didn’t work, he pulled a Shakespearean insult… for no reason.
Do I think this gentleman is responsible for the attack on Brussels? No, that would be absurd! But the attitude of scorn, disdain, blatant disrespect, and hate that he and other trolls ad religious dogmatists spread out into the world is the very reason why there can never be peace.
So, I beg of you, instead of pointing fingers and blaming one another, let us help each other.
Light a candle, say a prayer, be the light that shines in the darkness for someone else. Spread love! And recognize our similarities instead of emphasizing the things that set us apart…
*Literally as I began writing this article, I saw that ISIS was taking credit for the attacks. Even if they are responsible, they are still a small group of radical Muslims and not the majority! Please do not blame the majority for the actions of a few.