Friday, February 5, 2016

Early-onset existentialism.

Him: Have you ever been religious?

Me: No.

Him: Not even when you were little?

Me: No. None of it ever made any sense to me. Too many rules that were arbitrary and made no sense to me. Even very little I didn't understand why people cared if someone was gay. I took a religion class once, in third grade, and all I did was ask questions and get frustrated.

I've read a lot of books. Both in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in other cultural traditions. I've studied. I've taken classes. I've accompanied friends to bible class. I made an effort to learn, and I made an effort to be supportive of my questioning friends. It was difficult though. I don't like religious spaces. To me, they're tinged with judgement and a history of violence. I consider the spaces hostile.

Him: You never had a belief in God?

Me: Never. I wanted too, when I was really young. I'd say the words but they had no meaning to me. I knew I was pretending. If anything I had early-onset existentialism. I asked a lot of questions about life and death early on. None of it made sense to me, from the get-go.

Him: What about now?

Me: All there is, is now. And I do my best. I'm a hyper-sensitive person, always have been. I'm sensitive to others. I'm intuitive. I have strong instincts. I struggle; often. Kindness matters. Life is so brutal, and I try and warm the bubbles I inhabit. I try.

I'm an atheist. I don't believe in a God. The only religious philosophy that ever spoke to me was a Buddhist reading I did that started by stating "All Life is Suffering." It was like someone finally spoke to me in my language.

I'm not a Buddhist, but much of their philosophy is beautiful. I can appreciate the focus on the self, and how our largest struggles will always be internal.

Him: What about a moral code?

Me: I think a moral code is innate. We know what feels good. What hurts. What kindness feels like to give and receive. I think logic and empathy can dictate a more effective moral code than religion ever has.

Who gives a shit if two women are in love? What a ridiculous thing to stick on. How about wanting the best for your neighbour's happiness? What about recognizing bodily autonomy? What about disavowing all violence, not only violence you can't justify to yourself?

Morality grows out of experience. We've all tested those boundaries as children, and felt guilt. That's why the majority of us aren't socio-paths. We can make that distinction.

If a person tells me a not-so-ancient text is the only reason they don't murder, I worry about their state of mind.

Him: Can't religion be a set of guidelines, or a source of inspiration?

Me: In theory, yes. It's doctrine that frightens me. Especially since it's so indicative of a patriarchal, hetero-normative history. One that has justified slavery and almost every kind of brutality and abuse a person can think of.

Maybe the real problem is the fundamentalism of it all. The word is often used now in relation to notions of the religious fundamentalism of "others," but it's not new. It's always been here. It's fundamentalism that sources the Westboro Baptist Church and other hate groups.

Fundamentalism of any kind is dangerous. I guess I just don't associate any religion with being easy-going and open to progress. Maybe things will change. Culturally things seem to be leaning into notions of "spirituality" and often refer to more psychology-based methods of wellness. But there's fundamentalism everywhere.

When The Secret came out - you got folks going nuts over positive psychology. So if your life was shit, it was because you didn't believe enough. That's a real kick in the face to someone going through a hard time. It's patronizing and it's dangerous. It also completely wipes out the omni-importance of context.

Him: What is the secret then?

There is no fucking secret. Do the best you can.

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