One good thing about having my own blog is that I can talk about any topic I want to. I don’t have to ask for permission to state my opinion. It’s my platform. It’s my voice.
Go back and look at the 250 or so posts that appear on Type AJ Negative and you will see most of them are writing/publishing related. Being a storyteller, that is where a lot of my interests are. But there are other things that appear on here, most of them attempts at humor or life stories.
Today, I want to talk about something that bothers me.
Let me see if I can paint the picture for you:
There’s this guy and he’s taking this kid home. The kid is a little girl who is the friend of one of the guy’s children. You follow me so far? Guy taking little girl home. The girl is eleven.
In the middle of the conversation the girl says something that makes the guy asks a few questions. What is that thing?
“I’ve lost friends before because I’m different.”
“What do you mean?”
“This girl (she said the girl’s name, which I omit here) told this boy (again, omitted name) to try and change my religion.”
She repeated the statement.
“Why would she do that?”
“I don’t believe in God.”
That caught my attention. I am a spiritual person. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I don’t believe in religion. Believing in God and believing in religion are two entirely different things, in my honest opinion.
“You don’t believe in God?” I asked.
“No. My family is atheists.”
“Yeah. I’ve never been to church. My family has never been to church.”
“And that girl wanted you to not be atheist?”
“Yeah. I’ve never been to church, but I want to go one day. I may not believe in God now, but I might later.”
There was a lull of silence before I said anything else.
“Well, I tell you what, if you ever want to go to church, let us know, and if your parents are okay with it, we’ll take you with us one day. Okay?”
So later that night I told Cate about it. Then she said something that really bothered me. Again, no names will be used here.
I told her the story and this is what she said:
“I heard her and the kids talking in there, and some of the kids at school said she worships the devil.”
Let’s stop here. I am going to get on my soapbox for a minute.
I know the little girl who said the things about the other little girl. I know some members of her family, and sadly, I can see them saying something like, ‘if they are atheists then they worship the devil.’
The problem with this thought is it is not true. I know plenty of atheists, and I haven’t known any of them to worship the devil. If they did worship the devil, they would no longer be atheists, but Satanists. See how that works?
The real problem here is that a ten year old said this about an eleven year old and now several of the kids in their class are saying this little girl worships the devil. What? Really?
I am a follower of Christ. I believe He died on the cross for my sins. But—and this is a HUGE BUT—I don’t believe it is my place to condemn someone else for his or her beliefs (or lack of beliefs). Jesus preached love your neighbor, not hate them because they are different. Jesus ate with the sinners of his time and walked with those same sinners and helped those same sinners. He looked on all people with compassion, even the criminal hanging on the cross next to His. He loved people.
He didn’t care if you were Jew or Gentile. He didn’t care if you were black or white or red or brown or yellow or zebra print. He didn’t think less of women or children. He treated them well. He even said, ‘Do unto the least of these and you do unto me.’ (Matthew 25:45)
He loved everyone.
I think Mahatma Gandhi said it best when he said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
There lies the problem with many Christians: the majority of them don’t love everyone. Many of them think they are better than others, that if someone isn’t like them, then they are going to Hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. They think being a Christian is a bunch of don’ts and if you mess up once, then you aren’t worthy of Heaven. Many Christians just aren’t very loving. Many of them are not Christ-like to the point of being judgmental. Many don’t teach their children to love one another. That is something that can be taught regardless of your religious or non-religious beliefs.
As a Christian I try to set the example, not with my words, but my actions. You can say you are a Christian all you want, but if your actions and your words present a different image, then it doesn’t matter what you say or do—no one is going to believe you. And if people do believe you, then they are probably going to say something like, ‘if that’s what being a Christian is, I want nothing to do with it.’ By spreading hate, you push people away. By preaching love, you bring people closer.
It’s not just Christians though. The majority of people don’t love others outside of their circle. Many people think they are better than others, and if they don’t look like they do, or make the money they do or drive the cars they do or vote for the politicians they do, then they’re not good enough for them. Many people think they are always right and everyone else is always wrong. It’s a society issue.
The thing with ten and eleven year olds is that most of what they believe they learn from their parents or other adults in their lives. Abusive fathers generally breed children who grow up to be abusive fathers themselves. Racists parents generally raise kids who become racist themselves. It really is a monkey see, monkey do type of thing. Sure, there are plenty of cases where kids made good, even though the parents were kind of crappy to them. My dad is an example of a person who broke the cycle to be a better person than his parents ever were.
Back to the girl. As she said, her family members are atheists, so she is atheist. This is what she has learned, based on how she has been raised. The other girl who started the devil worshipper rumor learned that from someone as well. She may have been misinformed on the topic at some point or drew her own conclusions based on, what? I don’t know. What I do know is she is wrong.
We are all quick to judge what we do not understand. We all have done it. I have. You have. Part of that judgmental attitude comes from fear. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. We let our minds or others tell us what we should believe or say or do. We don’t understand it so we either don’t accept it or we are afraid of it. But something we don’t do that we should do more of is learn about what we don’t understand and make educated decisions based on that education. Don’t just have an opinion. Know the facts.
People, I want to make this clear: I don’t care what religion you are. I don’t care if you worship a god or are an atheist. I don’t care where you are from. I don’t care what your skin color is. I don’t care if you are rich or poor or somewhere in between. I don’t care what your job is. I don’t care if you are single or married or divorced. I don’t care about your political views. I don’t care if you are a woman or a man. I don’t care if you are attractive or unattractive. I don’t care if you are gay or straight. I don’t care if you agree with me or disagree with me. I don’t care.
Do I have to say it again?
But I do care about people. I care about how we treat one another. I care about how we judge one another. I care about respect. I care about whether someone is hurting and if I caused it, how do I fix it. I care about our world and I see it crumbling every day with the self-serving and entitled attitude of so many people. I care about how people lump other people into a category because they are of a certain skin color or religion or political party or income bracket. I care about people.
I will say that again: I care about people.
We are all human. We were all born in the same way. We all have feelings and desires and passions and we all need the same things to live: food, water, a place to live and air. Companionship helps, too. We all have loved at one time and we all want love. Go ahead and deny it if you want, but it’s true.
Honestly, this world makes me sad, and hearing what ten and eleven year old children say about another one because that one doesn’t believe in God saddens me deeply. Where did we forget how to love one another?
This isn’t a Christian or non-Christian issue. This is a human issue. And we have lost a good chunk of our humanity.
Stop fearing and judging what we don’t understand. Don’t just have an opinion. Educate ourselves. Teach our children to be better than we are. And love.
What we forget is we are not the people we are judging—we don’t know what is going on in their lives. We don’t know their situations. One well-placed kind word could make their day better. And one mean-spirited word could crush them.
Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another…