Tuesday, 1 April 2014

I'm on my soapbox again: My ideal world

I imagine a world where everyone is free and accepting of all beliefs. Where to be a Christian doesn't mean that you have to force your way of living onto anyone else, and to be an atheist doesn't mean that you have to spend all your time trying to convince those with a faith that what they believe in is rubbish.

I like the idea of a world where you can have a group of people in a room, all holding different faiths, belief systems, ways of life, and sexuality and be able to converse with each other and say, "okay, well the way you do things doesn't really work for me in my life, but I respect that it does for you so I'm going to support you in it and not try to convince you that what you are is wrong."

We all come into this world different. We are all born into different families and different cultures. It's the most obvious thing about our world. Not one country behaves the same, we all know this from a young age. So why do we seem to find ourselves feeling threatened by it? Why can't we see that a person is a certain way and just be happy that they've found the thing that fulfils them? My whole life has been about trying to be a person that I believed others to be. Due to that, I have lost a large chunk of it striving to be something that I'm not and losing the chance to live to the full potential of who I am. I am now beginning to be in a place where I am happy and comfortable with how I see the world. Part of that is learning to be accepting that there are different opinions by lots of different people. These people don't hold the same likes, dislikes, passions and excitement as me, so why would I think that what works for me would be the same for them?

Short answer is it doesn't. We as people need to find the thing that works for us and learn to be accepting of it in a way that doesn't belittle other people. If you have your beliefs, have them, just don't spend your life trying to force others to see it your way. We are who we are. And the only thing that we should be spreading to others is positivity and encouragement. Life is too short to be angry all the time. We have just a short 80-100 years on this planet, if we are lucky, what is the point of living it in hatred and attack?

I hear a lot of people talk to me about how religion is the thing that has destroyed this world and prevented it from moving forward. People refer to it as being the main reason for war and terrorism and a lot of evil in the world.  And while yes, it is used as the reason for these things, I'm almost certain that it's only been used as an excuse. I am a full believer that, if religion didn't exist, and we were brought into this world without any form of religion at all, we as a people would have found something else to support our views and create war that way.

There is a three part episode of South Park that portrays this the best. In it, Cartman is cryogenically frozen and wakes up centuries in the future. In this time, religion has been eradicated completely but war was still going on. Instead, people have chosen to fight in the name of Science, or more in the name of what they should call their Science groups... as is the way for most South Park episodes, the whole thing is ridiculous whilst also making you go "Ooooh! You went there!!" and "SO true!!"

And here's where I fall on the whole outward bigotry and putting people down "in the name of religion" stance. I believe that people believe what they believe and in order to find the most effective way to hold any kind of standing on their bigotry, they turn to religion (which has proven to be popular for our entire time on the planet) and realised that they can use it to support their claims and make them feel justified in what is starting to become vastly unpopular opinions. All the while, all they really are doing is making more and more people turn against the prospect of religion, call it archaic and wrong and then, next thing you know, another argument/protest/war has begun and everyone is back to hating each other again.

Speaking as a Christian, I have a lot of issues with the above tactic. People get angry at me for being a Christian. I get pulled up in debates regularly by a lot of people. Most of these debates, I just don't see need to happen. They seem to be based on the assumption that, since I believe there is a higher power out there who created the Universe and us, I must also believe that that same higher power hates anyone who doesn't believe what I believe. I've talked about this before in my post about Christianity versus Homosexuality, and how ridiculous that whole argument is, but here's the thing: to me, being a Christian and believing in what I do can't possibly also mean that I am against people of different walks of life to me. The very basis of my belief system is that I believe God made everyone. If God made everyone why would he then be telling us to be against each other? He made us all equally, and He made us the way that we are. He also made us all to love each other! Enough with the whole selecting small amounts of the bible to use to attack people. How about using the majority of the things in the bible which promote love and support and encouragement? Where's that focus gone?

Also, I have my beliefs but I can fully appreciate pokes and jokes at what I believe. I also fully appreciate that I do not hold all the answers to everything... mainly because I recognise I'm only human and not a genius of any kind. I realise that it sounds ridiculous that someone could live in a boat with every type of animal whilst the world is flooded, and that there are absolutely ridiculous rules in the Old Testament of the bible that simply aren't applicable in the world today. I also love to hear other people's beliefs and ways of thinking. And (believe it or not) I love Science and hearing new discoveries about how this world is made. (I say love, my love reaches up until I stop being able to understand, then it gets downgraded from 'love' to 'appreciation' as I nod my head and fully accept that it would be really interesting if my brain could contemplate it.) I am open to realising that there is indeed scope for Christianity to adapt to the way the world is today. I mean, it happened in the Bible all the time. The New Testament is full of statements where Jesus has gone, "Yeah, we said that in the Old Testament, but that was then and now we have moved on. Times have changed."

A lot of my Christian friends, when hearing my views on homosexuality ask me what I believe if I won't believe in what the bible says about it. I believe very much in what the bible says overall. It preaches love and support. It says that we should love our enemy and our neighbour. It talks far more about that than it does about hate of homosexuality or anything else. I believe in what Jesus had to say in the New Testament, whereby he befriends the people who were under attack or disliked by religious people at the time, namely tax collectors and prostitutes. He didn't spend his time condemning people. He loved. I love. That's why I'm a Christian, and that's what should be the overall outsider view of the Christian church, instead of "God hates *insert different group of people here*".

Since writing my Christianity versus Homosexuality post in December, I was pointed towards a few LGBT churches in London. I've checked a few out and I've loved them. The last one I went to, there was a point where the whole church took five minutes out of the service to look at pictures of current dictators who are actively against homosexuality. In this time, we were all encouraged to pray for them. Not in a "I hope they get hurt horrifically" kind of way, but in a "I hope they find peace and a clarity to see that their words are hurting people around them" or just simply "I pray they find happiness and joy." I sat in that congregation, watching a group of LGBT Christians praying for happiness for a bunch of people who were actively hurting everything that made them who they are and I cried. I cried because that, in that moment, to me, was a perfect example of what Christianity is, and why I choose to believe in it.

Christianity isn't about bigotry and anger. Christianity is about love, acceptance and the ability to welcome in anyone, no matter who they are. People also accuse me of only being a Christian because that was all I was brought up in. It's true. I was heavily influenced growing up. My childhood is littered with memories of my parents, who are Salvation Army Officers, (which is basically a minister in the Salvation Army) devoting their lives to visiting prisoners in jail, finding homeless people places to sleep, spending hours visiting people in hospital who have no other family. Every Christmas, we would have at least two elderly people who would come and share Christmas with us so they didn't spend it alone. That was my Christian influence. Can anyone tell me that, if they grew up with such a positive view of what Christianity should be, that they wouldn't want to be a part of it still?

I am so proud to live in today's era. We are reaching a place in the world where the majority of people are against attacking ways of life. There are still hurtful and painful extremest views from all belief systems... with the exception of agnostics... I really couldn't think of a way that someone could be an extreme agnostic... unless they were extremely accepting that anything could be right... which kinda works as an extreme I feel... We have moved on in leaps and bounds just in the last several decades alone. And I look forward to the world I'll be bringing my children into, if I end up having any.

My biggest dream for the future however, is not that religion/faith/belief is eradicated. It wouldn't fix the problem at all. My biggest dream is that our minds are changed with regards to how we approach those who are different to us. I hope that we will continue to grow into people who enjoy to hear about other people's lives and learn to be a population who are happy, supportive and rejoice in each others passions, regardless of how different they are of our own.

Peace out my lovelies

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