I notice as I lose faith in some things that I was taught to trust. I lost faith in religion (not to be confused with God) many years ago when I saw that my faith was actually embezzling from my personal pursuit of happiness.
Let me explain. I was raised Roman Catholic. Before I go any farther with this, I want to clarify that I see no issue with Roman Catholicism or its followers, or any religion for that matter. I believe we are all free to believe and follow what we personally believe in, live and let live. Isn’t that why it’s called faith? Because it is our personal belief, our “faith”?
Anyway, I was raised in the Roman Catholic faith, where homosexuality and tattoos are taboo, just to name two examples. When I was around ten years old, I observed people with tattoos and in my mind I judged the people (the tattoos themselves were irrelevant). They must be satanic, I thought. Devil-worshippers. To a ten year old, what is the opposite of believing in God? It’s simple. They wouldn’t have tattoos if they were God-fearing people, so they must worship and laugh with the devil. Archaic thinking, I admit, and maybe even delusional, but it made sense to me back then. (Small town living has a pack-mentality kind of way to it. You grow into your role and you accept it. You don’t want to be like those “other” people. People judge them.)
Then there was the way that we didn’t talk about things. Like those particular topics didn’t exist or they weren’t worth acknowledging. And if by chance they were brought up, they were met with a verse of the bible. Here’s a curveball, if you object to homosexuality (or even bi-sexuality) you better not have one piece of designer or even knocked-off designer material in your possession. Not one shoe, jacket, or even the fashionable fabric of bedding and curtains. Let’s just say you should be wearing a toga or loin-cloth of burlap, because gay and bi-sexual people are the majority of the trend setters on this planet and mostly we (I included) are mere followers. Lagerfeld, Versace, Michael Kors and the likes. Their ideals trickle down the market to every level of dilution for us to gobble up, and we do, one way or another. (Practicing Amish people are great examples of people who live what they preach in this respect- for obvious reasons) Certain people tend to pay more attention to detail that is beyond most common people’s understanding. I still get silently amused on the inside when I meet a “vegan” wearing stitches of leather in their accoutrements. Self-explanatory
I read this study years ago, I believe it was Harvard published. It said that people fall into four main groups. Idealists, realists, artisans and protectors. Idealists are visionaries, they make up about 8% of the total population. They are the ones whose dreams the realists make possible. Realists are day-to-day people, they answer the phones, run errands, make reports and so-forth. Without them the world would be a mess. Artisans are the ones who make our world and life pretty, whether by music, colour, architecture, design and so-forth. Without them our world would just be sewage and garbage dumps that a world without art, vivid colour and design would naturally be. We’d live in hovels and caves still. And last, but definitely not least in importance, are the protectors. Our nurses, doctors, lawyers, judges, researchers, scientists and so on. These people mostly exist to protect and help others, and what a mess we would be without them.
Religion doesn’t dominate who falls into what category, so how can we allow religion to separate us as a civilization? Everyone has something to contribute.
My second experience with religion embezzling my pursuit of happiness was when I realized I allowed it to impede my education.
I went to a Catholic high school. That step where we’re told we’re maturing into adults. Our decisions matter now, I thought. I am responsible for me AND my soul. I walked into one of my classes that first year and had a suspicion that my teacher was homosexual. In my eyes, not just homosexual, but with an underlying tone of flamatiousness. Don’t get me wrong, I love and adore flamatiousness now, even the word flamatious is awesome. Say it out loud and I bet you’ll love it too!
After three or four classes I could no longer deny my suspicions and so I didn’t attend any more of that class that semester because I felt it was my moral responsibility not to partake and I missed out on a credit because of my stupidity. Not just any credit, but a compulsory one. Every single day that I sat through that class I was reminded of how I screwed myself personally. I now see that education is never free and I appreciate whatever outlet it comes from. Any. It is not for me to judge others, I am not perfect.
I no longer “follow” any doctrine, I follow my heart. Every day I make conscious efforts to be a better person than I was yesterday in any way I can. I am conscious of every decision I make, and I hold myself responsible for my actions. I admire the life of a nun. Studying, helping people, not living so close to the useless greed and drama that seems to pervade everyday life and has the power to make us do things that later we see wasn’t the right or even the best thing to do.
Isn’t it more important that we are good people more than what religion we “follow’? And how can any religion judge another? They are like apples and oranges, not the same, but all fruit. I believe that as long as God knows I believe and I strive personally to be the best person I can be and contribute what I can while I am here, than I am okay. This does not mean I believe I am exempt from anything, I happen to agree with a lot of the bible, but not to the point I live it word for word. It was written by humans after all, and we all know how perfect they can be. I realize more than ever that I personally need solid undeniable truth more than I need faith.
I close with one of my favourite quotes, taken from the movie Rounders by character Mike McDermott~
“Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then YOU are the sucker.”