Are you insane? These three words are uttered so quickly and so easily. It’s a rhetorical question that is slung as carelessly as a stick being thrown across a yard. However, to suggest someone is suffering from a mental illness simply because we disagree is a form of bullying. What am I talking about? I’m talking about judgement and acceptance. I’m an atheist. I do not turn my back on my friends that have religious beliefs. So long as we can agree to respectively disagree, there’s no problem. If necessary, we avoid those topics to avoid heated arguments, because at the end of the day we love each other enough to accept that our friends are stupid. *chuckles* I’m mostly kidding with that statement, but deep down….hmmm, I think its probably true. I can’t stand President Trump, but my mother’s best friend thinks he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to this country. I love this woman. I’ve known her most of my life. Do I think she’s ignorant? Yes, but not just because of her political beliefs. *grins* I don’t think she’s a bad person. Again, we do our best to avoid certain subjects, because we are like family and we have far more in common than we disagree about.
I watch disagreements about things like the shape of the earth, religion, politics, racism, LGBTQIA (can we please make a word?) topics, and more tear families and friends apart. I’m watching a documentary right now about people that believe that the earth is flat. Mark Sargent stated that Flat Earthers can only date Flat Earthers, because the subject is so divisive. I found that idea to be so very sad, because if our minds are so closed off to people who think differently we cannot grow. Most of us will agree that racism is bad, right? Fair enough, let’s all agree that its not great. However, ask yourself how many racists you know? Do you even know the answer to that? Not all racists admit to it. Let’s go a step further, are the racists you know hate-filled in all of their actions? I doubt it. As humans we all have something in common. If you are so convinced that your beliefs are correct, then fighting and judging others is not the way to prove your point. I live in a state that is known for racial tensions and racism. In high school the KKK burned crosses on our football field. A handful of men in KKK robes paraded into the middle of my school’s lunch room DURING lunch. I have seen some of the truest and most awful forms of racism, up close. No, I’m not, nor ever have been a racist, but it is impossible to live where I live and not have a racist friend or family member. You know what? I’ve seen people change. I’ve seen people change their minds about race, religion, politics, and sexual orientation. I’ve seen people go from both sides to the other.
We need to stop and listen to one another. If you have love in your heart, then stomp out the hate and open your mind. I’m not saying you need to change your mind, just be open to hearing what others have to say. I am so curious by nature, that I cannot help but ask people why they feel the way they do. If I really believe they are wrong, I might poke a few holes in their beliefs, but with respect and curiosity.
I’ll get off my soapbox after I share this little memory. Years ago, a friend of mine asked, “Are you not worried about going to hell?”
I couldn’t help but laugh and ask, “Why would I?”
Her reply was just as silly in my eyes, but I listened and waited. “If you don’t believe in God and surrender you soul to him, you’ll go to hell.”
I smiled at her, because I knew she was sincerem “Sweetheart, don’t you see? If I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in hell. So how could I worry about going to a place I don’t believe exists?”
That was the end of the subject and it wasn’t brought up again. However, my point is….her beliefs caused her to worry about me in ways I will never worry about myself. It was my hope to alleviate her worries, not to insult her. We can disagree without hate and through love we can often persuade. But no one has EVER bullied me into believing something I didn’t think was true.