Very few things are truer than this. Or at least in the U.S. Unfortunately.
And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.… error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.… I deem the essential principles of our government.… Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; … freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected.
— Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?” -John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816
“The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.” -John Adams
“The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession.”
-Spoken by Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Joseph Lewis
“Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
-George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, 1792
“. . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.” Benjamin Franklin
Tolerance. For three years now I have been an atheist, after over 35 years of being a born again Christian. What have I had to learn like I never had to learn before? Tolerance.
When I was a Christian I thought nothing of not only proclaiming what I believed, but arguing about it, vehemently, sometimes even rudely. Everyone else’s beliefs were wrong and mine were right. And often I had other people back me up on it too, because mine was the acceptable, popular opinion. I was indignant if anyone disagreed. I couldn’t remotely entertain the thought that I might be wrong, or that my mother could be wrong, or her mother, or the church leaders I had grown up listening to and believing every word. And the BIBLE! The unblemished Word of God. His might–at my fingertips if only I believed hard enough. The “good book” that Christians arm themselves with in defense against Satan.
I remember as a child I had cards in a box and each card had a bible verse on it. I would memorize the card, and once I did, I’d put it aside and then memorize the next. Until I could say one verse after the next correctly, and in order. I did this because the church I went to preached that Satan is repelled by bible verses. So I learned them. And they sounded right to my young ears.
And of course they did. They were cherry picked for the impressionable young. There was none of the darker verses found throughout the bible. Nothing about burning witches or about women being forbidden to speak or ask questions in church, etc.
At bible camp we sang our songs over and over, both morning and night, celebrating, among other things, having been “washed in the blood” or being “under the blood”–(a hold-over from the blood baptisms of pagan Mithraism Christianity replaced–where followers stood under a grate while above them a bull was sacrificed.). To this day I can sing every song we sang then–I remember every single word. Because that is part of belief. It starts out as an idea. It is repeated in verse and in song. It is memorized. It takes root inside your head –becomes a way of thinking and habit…until you forget when it started or where it came from. That’s when you accept it’s always been, and it is true, absolutely true, so true that everyone should know! Or so I thought. Someone at some time must have done their research to prove it’s all true–so I didn’t have to–again, or so I presumed. I just…accepted that the bible was history, and the tales in it–about real people. But really, were they? Did people like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John… actually exist? Jesus too? No one seemed to question it in my little bible-camp world. I never heard anyone at my church or at that camp question if these characters in this book ever lived at all? No one asks this. No one asks WHO exactly wrote the bible, or why, or who hired them to write it? For what purpose? What was the agenda?
As a Christian the religious holidays were wonderful. Filled with fellowship and wonder and reverence and even hope of the promise the birth represents, and the sacrifice on the cross represents. I walked around with a cross around my neck. I was never a bible thumper but I was a Christian and I loved getting the warm and fuzzy Christian spam emails I got, and if anyone asked me oh sure, then I’d talk about my faith because then I knew it was safe. Here was someone who would agree with everything or most everything I did. I could talk and they’d nod their head and then they’d talk and further feed my belief, strengthen my delusion that this whole thing really is true.
If i ever came across a Jewish person, or atheist or anyone who was obviously not a believer, like someone wearing a turban or veil, oooh, I’d feel indignant inside. I wouldn’t want to start up a conversation with them because…well, two reasons. One, what did they know? They were the lost. The unsaved. The ignorant. And two…they might know more about their religion or beliefs than I knew about mine and I didn’t want my precious beliefs I hadn’t bothered to research, threatened in any way! I didn’t want to look foolish, or have to be put on the defensive or hear the painful words said that MY beliefs are not true! I didn’t want to be insulted by hearing someone say my Heavenly Father doesn’t exist or his Son who DIED for my sins…doesn’t exist! That kind of thing offended me, angered me, deeply upset me. So I avoided talking religion to these people–and in fact avoided people like this completely. I even avoided reading any books or articles by non-Christians which might challenge or put into doubt for me, my “faith.” I didn’t want to doubt, or question. I wanted to be like a little child as the bible commands, and blindly BELIEVE without question as good Christians do.
That was then. Fast forward to now and I am an atheist. Suddenly I notice how often people talk about their beliefs as if they think everyone agrees with them. Suddenly people are making a big deal about whether our current President is a Christian or not–while I’m thinking, what difference does THAT make when most of our founding fathers were not!
Learning to not defend my new non-beliefs has been difficult, because I grew up quick to get indignant and angry and upset any time anyone attacked my Christian beliefs. But to defend my new beliefs as a secular person who doesn’t believe…that’s wrong. That’s offensive to the majority–to all those Christians who, just like it once offended me, get angry and upset and take it personally when they hear anything contradictory or like an outright challenge to their beliefs. So really, it’s ok for Christians to broadcast what they think and believe and why. That’s called witnessing. It’s trying to spread the good news. It’s a wholesome, happy message of hope. A positive message. So it’s okay because since it’s so positive, how can it possibly offend anyone? Right?
Well, it does! I didn’t realize it’s a two way street, not just a one way street, until I found myself at an intersection and changing directions. It IS a two way street and believe it or not, people who don’t believe in Christianity or the Christian god do still feel all the same burning passions inside them for whatever it is they do believe, be it belief in another religion, or belief in science, in evolution, in preserving the balance of nature, of being humane to each other and to animals. Whatever the belief, it is close to the believer’s heart.
So when we have Conservative Republicans fighting to be nominated, and they’re busy vocalizing about how America is a Christian nation…which it isn’t and never has been…it basically says to all the rest of us who are not Christian, get the hell out, you aren’t wanted here.
There’s a Reason Rally on March 24th, 2012–a coming out celebration for Secularism. Why? Really, why? What do people who don’t believe in God have to defend? To cry foul over? To get indignant about?
How about the fact this is our country too? And we love our country too? And we aren’t deceived by the bullshit they’re feeding the mainstream that this country was founded by Christians–when we know perfectly well it was not. This is our country too, and yet can a secular person, someone who does not believe in god or gods, have any hope of running for President? No. And how come that is? Since when has the word “Christian” become the replacement word for words like wholesome, kind, compassionate, honest, ethical, caring, fair, gentle, forgiving, merciful, loving or good?
For a very long time people with no beliefs have felt no need to speak out. For a very long time atheists and agnostics and pagans and heathens or whatever else you want to call us–infidels–whatever, have held our tongues and allowed the religious to walk all over those of us who don’t believe. To silently smile and meekly try to change the subject rather than disagree and risk hurting someone’s feelings or upsetting someone. But now we have the Religious Right trying to tell all of us that we are all of us Christians, and their puritan ideas of what is right and wrong, should be accepted by us all! We’re back to that old song and dance again about how women should have babies if they get pregnant, whether or not they want to, and women should not have insurance coverage for birth control–which of course will mean so many more unwanted babies coming into the world with parents who can’t afford them.
I think it’s time to speak out. I think it’s time that the secular population join together and protest our right to not believe, our right to not have to be silent just because our opinion is the less accepted, minority one, our right to not be governed by doctrine that seeks to keep our society in the dark ages, women under the dominion of men, and further allow our planet’s overpopulation crisis to multiply.
In my view such religious doctrine that abortion is murder (which the bible does not say, by the way), and the people or organizations like the Religious Right who seek to make war against women and take away their rights over their own futures–their own bodies, are one of the main reasons why why our planet’s environment is so out of whack now–why we have too many people and not enough food–and why we have killer storms in parts of the world where they have never been before.
So it’s not just for the sake of our pride, and our desire to be counted as patriotic Americans too. Nor is it just for the purpose of defending/preserving our human rights. It’s for the sake of our planet, and for the sake of the advancement of science and understanding–the only weapons we have to defend ourselves, against ourselves.
This is something I often wondered growing up as I did, raised by a very devout Christian widow who…well…let’s just say it was very important to her that her children would go to heaven. Which is why to this day I have never told my mom I no longer believe, and haven’t believed in what is now three years or more.
If I were to imagine heaven, it would be a place where there are no tears, no sadness, no heartache, no despair, no disappointment, no discouragement, no worry, no regrets, no hunger, no thirst, no loneliness, no yearning for things to be different. Heaven would be all the best things I could ever imagine, like all the most breathtaking natural beauty the earth could offer, only so much more, the colors so much brighter, the sounds so much sweeter. The air would be like standing in a grove of lilac trees, or in the center of a greenhouse filled with roses. All would be so glorious you’d want to stand there forever, drinking it in, content to stay still in that moment forever.
As a Christian I had friends who were not, family who were not. And it bothered me. Really really bothered me. My dad’s cousin Evelyn died, and she was an atheist who told me once to my face she had never sinned. Because she did not believe in sin–which in her view was a man-made invention that made religion necessary. So when Evie died, I was very sad. I didn’t want to think of Evie in hell. It upset me to think of such a wonderful loving lady in such a horrible place.
I have heard it said that hell is not what the bible describes in a literal sense. Hell is to be eternally separate from God. Hell is to be able to gaze across a divide at all the joys of heaven, and not be able to go there, not be able to be among all those happy people, but to be stuck forever and ever in a place apart from God. That’s what hell is.
Now if I were one of those lucky people who managed to make it into heaven, and I looked across and I could see–or even if I couldn’t see, but I just knew, I had friends or family like Evie, in some other place, and they were suffering. If I knew that because of choices they made in their life as puny and ignorant mortals they were doomed to be punished forever, unforgiven, to a place of despair, of sadness, of pain, of separation, of never knowing the utter bliss I was getting to enjoy… Would that be very nice for me? Would I be in heaven? Would heaven be a happy paradise for me, if I knew across the divide there were people I knew and cared for, suffering–and doomed by my God to suffer forever? Would that be a happy thing for me?
The only way I would find Heaven a happy place for me under those circumstances, would be if God made my heart very hard so I wouldn’t care anymore. So I would regard those friends I once cared for and family I cared for as deserving to languish in agony and despair forever. They would be like my enemy and I would feel how right it was for them to suffer for eternity while I enjoyed happiness beyond my wildest dreams.
If I had to have my heart hardened for Heaven to be a happy place for me–for me to no longer care about people I once cared for now having to suffer, how much more brittle and hardened would God’s heart have to be, considering he supposedly is merciful and “love” is one of his names? For him to be merciful and loving by nature, and yet able to condemn billions of souls to eternal torment and still go on his merry way being happy in his paradise despite all that suffering going on….wouldn’t he have to shut his ears and harden his heart and cease to be merciful and loving?
He would no longer be a loving God. He would no longer be a merciful God. He’d be a cruel and unforgiving God–by so enforcing an eternal horrible punishment upon mortal beings who did for whatever reason, not jump through the right hoops while they were living, and so now they must suffer forever.
It would be different if the rule book were crystal clear and not subject to this interpretation or that interpretation. But the rule book is not clear. There are verses in the bible that contradict other verses. The bible says Thou Shalt not Kill and yet time and time again God kills, or orders his followers to kill. There is a verse that says not by works are you saved, but it is a gift from god, and there’s another verse that says good works are just a part of what you must do to have eternal life. There’s a verse that says you should make it known what good works you do, and another verse that says you should keep it secret, and not boast.
Which verses are the correct ones, and which are not? Why are there cities placed in the wrong countries in the bible? Why was there a census mentioned in the bible shortly after Jesus’ birth, but the year is off–there was no census at that time per actual history?
If God’s good news is so important, so critical that the punishment is so horrible indeed for those of us who don’t hear or hear but don’t believe…then why isn’t God’s word perfectly clear? Wouldn’t God insist on it being absolutely clear? Without flaw? Without human tampering? And if our salvation is so important to God, why does he not simply make his existence fact, rather than keep us all guessing? In all the world there is not one scrap of non-biblical proof of the existence of God, or Jesus for that matter. Now if God is real, and if his good news is real, and if our salvation is so important to him, so we don’t end up in hell suffering forever while he, God, is forced to shut his ears and turn his back and never forgive–why isn’t evidence of his existence or Jesus’ existence, as plentiful to find as the bones of dinosaurs are? Why doesn’t God appear and end the doubting that will ultimately cost so many eternal life? Or for that matter, why did God make Lucifer in the first place, or human beings so fallable as to be capable of sin and then place them right where he knew his imperfect angel was lying in wait?
Or if God doesn’t want to appear? If our salvation isn’t worth him revealing himself, why not perform the impossible to prove miracles really do happen? Like, allowing the amputee who has been praying really hard, to have his lost arm or leg grow back? Or give the woman who had her eyes gouged out by the chimpanzee, new eyes–regrow them in her head? If God can do anything, these things would not surpass his power–and would leave very little doubt that the supernatural exists. And yet he doesn’t.
Anyway, I have digressed and I’m sorry. My point is, even if I were still a Christian, and even if I did make it into this paradise Christians look forward to. It wouldn’t be heaven to me because I would know my Aunt Evie was being punished in hell–and she was a really neat lady who does not deserve torment and pain for all eternity. So heaven would become hell for me, knowing Evie isn’t there and knowing there’s nothing I can do to appeal to this merciless deaf God to hear her cries of torment and forgive.
That wouldn’t be heaven for me, and that would not be a god I would even want to follow.
The below article describes better than anything I have read before, just exactly WHY I feel the desire to defend what I believe as a non-believer, and so I wanted to share. Oh, and incidentally, I think it is WRONG that non-believers are deemed unelectable just for not believing in supernatural beings!
Reason Rally: A Secular Coming-Out Celebration
In a show of solidarity that would have been unimaginable even just a few years ago, thousands will be flocking to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on March 24 in celebration of secularity. The Reason Rally, a day-long event featuring notable entertainers and speakers and attracting busloads of nonbelievers from all over the country, could be a watershed moment for the secular movement.
The lineup for the day includes a mix of entertainers, public intellectuals, and representatives from various secular groups. All events are free. The band Bad Religion will be performing, and the crowd will also hear from comedian Tim Minchin, popular skeptic and debunker James Randi, and author and scientist Richard Dawkins. Lawrence Krauss, author of “A Universe from Nothing,” whose ideas inspired Miley Cyrus to tweet on the issue (thereby sparking a backlash from enraged Christian fans), will also be on hand, along with many others, to address the secular festival.
This is just me writing this time. Nothing informative. Just writing how I feel and how I’ve felt a very long time. As long as I can remember. It has to do with religion, and with society in general and how I was raised to think and how it has effected me as a person and how I feel it has effected other women too. Based not on fact, but just what I’ve observed in my almost 50 years.
People have this idea that little kids are oblivious and ignorant of such things as human rights. I guess as we get older we forget how it was to be young. I still remember very well, and I suspect my experience is like anyone’s. I was aware. I had an opinion. Things appealed to me or disgusted me or spoke to my heart then just as they do now. I had perceptions, and a sense of fairness, of right and wrong. In short, (literally) I was just a little person, as all children are. When I’d hear adults refer to myself and my friends as “little ones,” ugh! I hated that term! I didn’t feel like a little one. I didn’t feel like anything less. Not then, and not now. Because I’m not. Nobody is.
I remember from a very young age being annoyed to the point of angry at the commercials we were bombarded with. I was a tom boy when I was little…and I never completely lost my interest in playing in the dirt, as even as an adult I liked digging for fossils and splelunking and hauling up rocks or petrified wood or whatever treasure I could find. But watching those commercials, what I could see of them through the often side-ways tilted or rolling black and white screen. Women…raising their families. Women, making dinner. Women, advertising mops and laundry soap. Women using Windex, or irons or making cookies, cleaning house, or shopping. Always made up and wearing dresses, perfect, wearing lipstick even in bed–never a hair out of place. While men in those commercials washed cars, went camping, or fishing, or were shown building tents, lounging in hammocks, digging, climbing ladders, fishing, playing ball with their sons, working on cars.
Always in the TV shows I watched I would silently rage at the helpless females I’d see portrayed. I liked the old campy Science Fiction shows back then, the old movies, and always whenever those rare moments would come that a woman would be needed in a scene, she’d faint, or stumble, or fall exhausted to the ground unable to go on, slowing down our heroes from the horrors pursuing them, just waiting to be rescued. It was the most predictable thing. I’d sit there and think okay, and now she’s going to fall down…and then she would. I remember yelling at the TV, even as a small child, “run you guys! Just LEAVE her! Run!”
Recently I, out of curiosity, tried to watch some old “Lost In Space” reruns. OMG…the mother and daughter Penny in that old show were next to useless. They were only objects to protect…their job…to look astonished, or afraid, or confused, or helpless and vulnerable. These were the kind of role models I had to grow up with. If it wasn’t for Vasquez in ALIENS and Zena and Gabrielle in “Zena ,Warrior Princess…”
(I pause in silent homage to the pioneers that had the courage to write women that way–with grit, tenacity, strength–all the qualities I can admire!)
In my last blog some Muslim guy commented that that’s how men should be. That’s their role and we women in Western cultures who get to actually live our lives and be (at least to some extent) more like what we were made to be, have forgotten this–the fact that some deity designed us to be soft, dependent, loving servants of men–be all those warm and fuzzy wholesome things while our great big sweaty bare-chested males thump their pectorals and lug home dinner to their adoring, families.
Oh please. And yet it still exists. Ever watch QVC? Just watch and listen to the hosts when they’re selling what is traditionally something a MAN would want to buy, vrs. what traditionally a woman would want to buy. If I called QVC during a presentation to sell a ladder, they might ask me if this was for my husband or my son or my father. I would say no, you frickin idiot! It’s for ME.
To be fair the opposite is just as true. If a single man needed an iron and called QVC and got on the air, probably they’d ask him who the gift is for.
The point being, the programming continues on today. It’s still apparent in our commercials, and in how we are treated. I remember when I went to Cycle Barn the first time to look at buying a motorcycle. The place was crowded with men or men with their sons and all the salesmen were busy. It took over an hour of standing there looking interested before one of them thought to come over to me.
Happily so much has changed since I was young, since even when I was in my 20’s. Happily now a young girl can dream big and actually have some possibility of obtaining her dream. When I was little if I had said I wanted to be a fire fighter or a astronaut or President of the United States for that matter, it would have been a joke to any adult who heard me. Oh, they’d say “good for you, Diane!” I’m sure. But they know. And they would no doubt think that as I grew older I’d put aside these childish dreams and discover a desire to hum as I work, dust as I walk, cook wonderful meals for my man and wait on him hand and foot, making sure a spotless house and well mannered children were there to greet him when he got home.
(Sound of Leave It To Beaver theme music.)
I think organized religion has made boxes and tried to tuck people away inside them. Women, you go in this box. It means you can’t be or have or experience anything that’s over here in this box, because this box is only for men. And men, same goes for you. Women can’t be masculine because then no man will want them and men, you can’t have feminine interests because that would make you a fairy…a gay…a homo…an undesirable by society.
In other words, anyone who dares to march to the beat of their own drummer…just better not if they want to be loved, accepted, appreciated, all those things we all want to be.
Well I never liked wearing dresses and my favorite color was blue and the only dolls I liked playing with as a child were my brother’s G.I. Joes…and all the cool helmets and fabric clothing and jeeps and guns that were their accessories. As a child I liked catching snakes and tadpoles and frogs and I liked playing Capture the Flag and building forts with the few boys I found willing to play with me. I liked to play rough. I had no interest in jewelry or make up, and I scoffed at grade school girls who wore these things when being a kid was so much better.
Was I abnormal for a girl? What would have happened to me had I been born and had to grow up in some of these Middle Eastern societies that have these ideas of what women should be vrs what men should be? Could I have endured being denied the freedoms I saw my brother enjoying? Hell no. And if a book told me it was god’s wish for me because I was cursed by being born a female, I wouldn’t feel any love at all for such a god, and in fact I wouldn’t have followed such a deity. Ever!
I did follow the biblical god for over 30 years, because I had blinders on and I didn’t let myself see that the god in the bible is just as sexist, if not more so, than the god the Muslims worship that Christians like to point fingers at and criticize. But now I see no difference between them, and in fact it seems if you just look at the Quran and the bible and not at the religions and how people interpret these books, it seems from what little I’ve read–the Quran is actually less harsh toward women than the bible is.
So that’s it. Just felt like writing and saying WHATEVER. I am glad I didn’t get born 20 years earlier than I did. I’m glad I was born in the 60’s after all the hardest work was already done by the brave women before me who had the gumption to rail against being forced into boxes. I hope we never, as women, forget how hard our recent forebears had to fight to get the rights we enjoy today, and I hope we never give up fighting–that we never again believe in books written only by men telling us how we as women, ought to be.
Bigot “One fanatically devoted to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and intolerant of those who differ.” Such is the definition of the word in my badly abused and taped together Webster’s II dictionary.
Pretty much we all know what a bigot is, or what bigotry looks like. But I had a friend yesterday point out something to me–bigotry I am experiencing personally in my life, toward me.
When I think of a bigot I think of someone intolerant of someone of a different race, or religion or sexual preference. People tend to shun, avoid, stereotype, etc., people who look or think or act differently. Differences they don’t understand make people uncomfortable, and rather than feel uncomfortable which is often unpleasant, people try to avoid contact altogether with that person or persons, rather than try to understand, and in working to understand, learn tolerance or maybe even appreciation for what is different.
People who are depressed are different. We don’t think the same, or react the same. We behave irratically or are overly emotional sometimes. We might blow things out of proportion, or just seem whiny or petulant or childish. We might be high maintenance or act like drama queens. We might be needy or fearful or paranoid or laugh at the wrong times, or cry at the wrong times. Because depression is a chemical imbalance–it alters how efficiently our brain processes thoughts and feelings.
Meds do help. Talking over our problems help. But this is a physical illness, not a series of bad days or just not loving ourselves enough. We can’t wave a magic wand and say ok I”m normal now. Some people with depression have to battle it all their life. For others it comes and goes–people have episodes. Not everyone knows it when they have depression. In fact sometimes the ill person is the very last to know. All they might know is, it’s harder to get out of bed. It’s harder to deal with social situations. It’s harder to multi-task. It’s harder to care about one’s appearance or eating healthy food, or going to the dentist twice a year, or keeping the house clean. It’s harder to smile. It’s harder to look someone in the eye. It’s harder to believe you are likable. It’s harder to believe you have any worth.
Little things happen that add to this belief about self too, and the self esteem does, over time, slowly collapse. The person perceives they are different–they perceive that others around them are being treated differently than they are. They start to understand they are not someone people want to talk to, or be close to. They are being avoided. They are being shunned. No one seems to like them. What friends they did have, don’t want to deal with them anymore.
All these things only add to the problem, create more unbearable hurt on a person already in pain. This process of being avoided by others–being seen as different because your demeanor is not the same–isn’t this a form of bigotry? The person with depression experiencing bigotry for making people uncomfortable because of being sick?
Bigotry hurts, in all it’s forms. No one asks to be sick and everyone who is sick is trying very hard, every day, to feel better. A society that shuns the ill because they make the healthy uncomfortable…all that does is make it harder to be ill, and harder to get better. Depression is an illness and it’s one that’s unfortunately here to stay. There are some really wonderful, loving people in the world that suffer from this illness. People with good things to offer. People with something to say and plenty of love to give. By shunning anyone for being different, we are, as a society, not only making the hurt so much worse for the person or persons, we are cheating ourselves of the potential, the treasure that might be lurking just under the surface–if only we offered a hand instead of turning our backs. In every garden a seed has the potential to grow or die–and that potential is up to the gardener. Not all gardens are blessed with healthy soil. Some seeds are sown in rocky soil, or sandy soil, where the ability to flourish is harder. Do we give up on those gardens? Pull those plants that have to struggle more to bloom, or let the weeds choke them to death? Or do we give a little more work, a little more love–sprinkle on a little more fertilizer so that garden too might bloom and bring smiles to those who see it?
Our society is a garden. We can help it grow or let it die. Whatever we decide, starts with how we tend the flowers.
Making it stop, making an end. Every day that crosses my mind. Being atheist removes the unnatural dread of death for me that religion creates. i was hit on the head with ice-skates once and I remember how that was. I fell, saw my older brother fall to try to avoid hitting me, his skate came up–darkness. That was it. I didn’t feel the cut of the blades across my forehead, leaving a -1 scar that would last for many years. I don’t recall the throng of people who gathered around or my Aunt Eve placing my head in her lap. What I do remember is waking with blood in my eyes and wondering where all the people had come from.
In that moment of black out, time stopped for me. The time it took for those people to gather round, and for my Aunt who was an RN, to show up. There was no pain from the blow, no fear or distress. I was completely unaware. And now I’m thinking, that is death. Or that is how death is if in fact all the hopes in an afterlife we humans like to hold dear, are false.
Is that so bad? One friend put it very well. “I didn’t mind not existing all the millions of years before I was born, why should i mind not existing after I die?”
Or if there’s an afterlife, and evidence doesn’t disprove it any more than it proves it, I really do think it’s a natural condition same as our physical life is a natural condition. There are no hoops to jump through. No holy rituals one must complete. No giant man god in the sky who’s unending ego must be appeased. It’s just something that comes after the darkness, after the body shuts down, when the energy leaves the body and who knows, perhaps takes with it a little echo of what we are.
Why do I sometimes wish to die? Because I have depression, and because people with depression are subjected to a stigma. Now if I had cancer, or heart disease or any other physical illness, I am quite sure my friends or the people who cared, would still be there for me. But any form of mental illness, which, by the way, is just as much a physical illness people can’t help as cancer or heart disease or anything else, is not the same. Having any sort of mental illness effects the way your brain works. It effects the way your thoughts come across in your head. Mental illness distorts your thoughts, or makes your brain less efficient at processing them. Little problems seem huge. Or at least that’s how it is with depression and anxiety disorders. The person with these illnesses, reacts differently than people without them. And in doing so, drives friends away at the precise time encouragement, support, and kindess would help the most.
I used to love my life. I used to laugh and look forward to new experiences. I engaged in the world around me. Since depression has cost me the few friends I have, and left me feeling outcast and unwanted at a time I could really use some support, I find myself with nothing to look forward to. The friends i miss, do not miss me. Because I was a burden to them. I didn’t mean to be, but I was and people do get tired, even nice, well meaning people. But unlike them I am unable to abandon myself, and so on I must plod mostly alone, understanding that my illness is punishing me by taking away my already small ability to have/keep friends.
Or so it seems. So every day I must fight to find reasons to get out of bed. This is what depression is. I find there are a lot of addictions in the world that hide behind labels calling them something else. In addition to the known addictions like cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse, there is also addiction to anything else that we might use as a crutch to get through our day. Many people are addicted to work, and the feeling of success and worth it brings. Or people can be addicted to people, which I was. I was addicted to how wonderful it made me feel being around people who treated me like I was okay too, like I was wanted and liked and cared for. I loved how that felt. I loved how it made me feel. I didn’t want to lose that, and when I did it tore me apart; what little I had left of happiness fell to pieces, and why is that? Because I had a dependency on other people to give me that warm fuzzy feeling I loved so much. I went years hoping to have the company of people I respected who seemed to actually like me and accept me flaws and all, and having people like that, knowing people like that, gave me happiness I hadn’t felt for a very long time, if ever.
This was a nice thing for me at the time, but it had a negative side. Without knowing it, I became addicted to that. I never developed any ability to make my happiness on my own. I needed something on the outside to make it for me, other people to make it for me. And people get tired of making happiness for someone else. It’s hard enough learning how to make happiness just for yourself–but to have someone else dependent on you for their happiness–that gets very tiresome after awhile.
So that was my addiction, and it helped ease my depression having those people, and then when I lost the support of those people, I fell to pieces, just as much as any heroin addict or alcoholic would fall to pieces cut off from his/her drug.
Another addiction of course, is religion. That crutch that people need to feel good about themselves. Doesn’t matter if no one else likes me, Jesus is always there–he will never forsake me. Or…I wouldn’t be such a loving person as I am if I didn’t have Jesus. Because of Jesus I am saved, because of Jesus I am not an abomination in god’s eyes anymore–a sinner. I am a new being, born again. I am saved.
See, I had that addiction too, but losing the people in my life I thought cared for me because I developed this illness, made me realize or become aware that people are not reliable or dependable. Sometimes they’re not even what they seem to be. And learning this about people I had grown to care for very much, made me want to remove any other falsehoods I didn’t realize existed, from my life. Any crutch I might turn to like so many alcoholics turn from one addiction–alcohol–to another–religion.
But I am not writing about religion. I am writing about dependency and how easy it is to fall to addiction and dependency when you have depression, because with depression you will do and try anything to feel good. To have a reason to get out of bed. To not step in front of a train once you discover how to get on the tracks. To not OD or jump off bridges or in front of Metro buses.
People think it’s selfish and cowardice to comit suicide. I submit that no one does so lightly. The people who kill themselves have very likely gotten tired of trying and failing all the time, tired of succeeding and having no one notice. Because really, it’s only the failures people notice who want to find fault with you–see only the disappointments in us to justify their actions in turning their backs when we needed them most. And it’s the aloneness people can’t bear. The feeling like nothing they do will ever be enough or help enough. Death is scary–thanks to threats of hellfire or the fear of not existing anymore or…whatever, and many religions even threaten mentally ill people who die because of their mental illness are going straight to hell, so….it takes a lot of desperation to make someone, esp. a religious someone, suicidal. It’s only when life is scarier and the pain becomes so unbearable that people want to kill themselves–just to make it stop, nevermind whatever fears they have.
It is hard work to love and care for a depressed person. But it’s even harder work being in our shoes. Because depression isn’t like a lot of other illnesses. Many people don’t understand they have it. Many people who do, don’t know how to regain control of their thoughts they can’t seem to manage anymore. Everything seems huge. Overwhelming. You walk around feeling like a shattered vase just barely holding itself together–and if a strong wind comes you’ll fly to pieces across the road. That’s depression. When you want and need a loving heart to hold you, help you glue the cracks so you don’t fall apart, so you can at least function again even if you’ll never again look brand new.
But it’s work to care for someone with depression, or any mental illness. It’s work. Because just like AIDS or Hepatitis C or cancer or heart disease, depression isn’t fun, and it isn’t pretty, and it isn’t easy. It hurts, and it kills just as readily as these other illnesses, and the person inflicted is just as wanting to be cured, to feel well again, as any other sick person. But they have to go every day completely alone, feeling completely like they will never measure up or be loved or wanted or accepted or cared for–that they’ll never be whole enough again for such things.
Sometimes death seems better. Sometimes I wish for the black oblivion I felt when those ice skates hit my face. Even non-existence would be a gentle peace and an ending to a hurt I often find unbearable.
And I could deny it that I think of death. I could deny it to keep my friends from having to worry. But that would be a falsehood too. So instead I say every day I have to struggle to get out of bed, find a reason. My reasons are my animals. I have little animals who need me to go to work so I can feed and shelter and care for them. These are my reasons, and really my only reasons. Because my animals love me even when I’m struggling. Even when I’m in pain. Even when I’m damaged and I don’t know yet how to make me better. My animals do not turn their back or judge me, and they are always there. I can’t disappoint them. I can’t let them down. And they, in turn, are honest with me. They never give me false hopes, or false caring. They simply are what they are, and they love me.
This is my reason–because of my little animals. I do not put my hopes in some world yet to come. I don’t believe there is such a place. And I do not turn to Jesus to make me happy, because that’s just one more crutch, one more addiction, one more hoping for something outside myself to make my world right for me.
Happiness, real happiness, doesn’t depend on things, or imaginary friends, or other people, or such and such working out just right. Happiness is a decision. A choice we must learn to make. Those thoughts that seem so big and terrible, that the depressed or anxious person must battle every single day just to get through from dawn to dusk–only we can decide which ones to believe and which ones to reject, which ones we want to attach to and let them control our mood, our emotions, our life, and which ones we decide aren’t worthy of us.
Everyone hates me. No one loves me. All my friends were fake. I’m not worth anyone standing up for and supporting me. These are the thoughts I get every day that make me want to shrivel up and die. Every single day. These are the foes I battle. And don’t talk religion with me. It’s because of religion I have many of these thoughts now. This programming I can’t be whole and healthy and good without the help of some god. See, that’s not true. I was born beautiful, and good, and perfect, and exactly what nature meant me to be. I am a happy and wonderful, loving and good person. All I have to do is believe it about myself. Really believe it. And not look outside myself for other things to make my happiness for me.
That is the key to survival for me. The key to finding reasons to get through each day. The reasons must come from within, from myself. Not from drugs. Not from therapy. Not from self help books. But from me. Every day I need to make the decision which forces inside I want to control me–which thoughts I want to take seriously and which ones I want to recognize are just the bullshit religion I was fed or the negative messages I let myself believe all my life from my mother or the people I liked who couldn’t like me.
It might seem odd to someone who doesn’t know me as a person, why my blog seems to be this odd mix of my celebrating my new-found atheism and….personal issues like depression, aging, stuff like that. I’m sure there will be more than just these two themes as I go, but these two are currently very much what I’m juggling in my life.
First I learned some really hard things about what had been my reality. When you start to mistrust the very ground you used to always take for granted would be solid, you start mistrusting everything, and searching for new solid ground. That’s where I am now.
I didn’t learn until about 6 years ago that the one parent who raised me had done so mentally ill. She was the one i was always scrambling to win points with. My brother was her golden boy . He could do no wrong. I, on the other hand, from the day I stood at the cemetery at my first and last visit to my daddy’s grave and as a six-year-old asked my mom if my daddy was really under ground and got slapped for it, until this very day, my mom has viewed me with suspicion. At that point or shortly after she suffered her first break, though I didn’t know it, and neither did my brother. Our house became haunted. I believed it because my mother did, and she took us kids away for a week fleeing these dark entities that chased us from hotel to hotel.
Anyway, it’s a very long story. She’s always known about the voices in her head, but never told anyone until six years ago when she really started unraveling after chemotherapy. I always wondered why she didn’t like me telling other kids about our haunted house. I think we moved out here from Wisconsin because my mom was afraid of losing us kids. My Uncle had the police out looking for us that week we were fleeing those demons my mother saw. I believe she feared he questioned her ability to raise two little kids.
So fast forwarding… I married the first guy who said he loved me back. There were lots of signs during my marriage that I chose to ignore, but in the end I was made to realize my husband didn’t love me and according to him he possibly never did. That was after 16 years of marriage and the last six of them with me trying to save my marriage because I still loved him very much, but he didn’t love me, nor did I feel any love from him those six years we didn’t touch, and he couldn’t even tell me if he loved me, he just said “I don’t know.”
The only way I could get away from that marriage was switch my focus, and I did. I found another person who was in pain as much as me, and I focused on cheering him up and along the way I fell in love with him. He found out and then proceeded to stay at my apartment and then my condo with me letting me care for him because he developed a life-threatening illness and none of his other friends were stepping up to the plate.
Long story short again, three years later after he got better he said “thanks, but I don’t need you anymore” and then proceeded to convince his friends whom I also had grown to like very much, that I had smothered him, when in fact his illness had prevented him from leaving a situation that apparently had grown wearisome to him–and yet it was nice for him not having to pay rent or contribute very little and have everything pretty much paid for him, including transportation.
So I turned to other friends for solace, and one of them was a head bartender at a popular restaurant all my theatre cohorts loved to go, and that bartender let me believe we were friends like he was friends with these other guys I had gotten to know. Long story short again, he too was pretending all so he could win my trust. And in the meantime he learned how lonely I was, how unloved and unlovable I felt–he took advantage of me. Then after that there were several years of head games from him–with me trying to believe he was my friend when in fact I guess or at least I have been told by another friend, I was just a big joke to him all along.
You have three men pretend with you, three men seem like they’re one thing and then they turn out to be something else altogether, you start having doubts about everything you thought was real about the world. Between that and the fact I learned my mother was a schizophrenic–suddenly I had to reevaluate everything I grew up to believe about myself, and all the things I just assumed were true.
I became very earnest about protecting myself from further hurt. I had always questioned the parts about my faith that I questioned and tried to ignore or shrug off. If I asked any pastor about them, I was given pat answers too, that never satisfied me. I’m sorry but “God works in mysterious ways” is not an answer.
Religion had taught me that I was a bad person. It reinforced everything my mother drummed into me. I could never be good enough. Oh, I was a Christian, yes. But I was always a very bad Christian because I didn’t go to church, or read my bible enough, or walk the walk enough, or whatever. It was never enough. I was never enough. A few times I would try to get back into going to church…
One time I started regularly attending the Westgate Chapel in Edmonds WA. They had a fabulous music program and I loved to sing, so it was enjoyable there for me. But I was also an amateur paleontologist volunteering for the Burke Museum in the U-District. Every year we had our little Dino-Days at the Burke, and I and my husband (I was still married then) would volunteer). I loved digging for fossils, cracking open rocks and seeing evidence of live no human eyes had ever seen. It fascinated me. It awed me. It put things into perspective re. how very OLD the planet is and how fleeting our little moment on this world is.
Then one Sunday service at Westgate the head minister stood up and told about taking his children to Dino-Days at the Burke. He ridiculed us, those of us who ran the event, as acting so sure about our belief that the planet was old, and the age of the fossils, and evolution itself. He made it sound like paleontology itself was the devil’s work.
After the service I approached this pastor because his words had me rather upset. I was in disbelief because the man had implied my favorite thing was against God. So I asked him, straight out, if it was wrong of me to dig for fossils. I told him I worked at the Burke and contributed like the rest of my group, NW Paleontologists, to the Burke. He looked at me and said “Do you think it glorifies God?” I looked him straight in the eye and said “yes, I do.” He gave me a look, and turned to talk to someone else and I felt completely snubbed.
So. I am put on this earth to glorify God. Writing this note, if it doesn’t glorify God, I guess I shouldn’t do it. Raising Canaries–if it doesn’t glorify God, I shouldn’t do it. This was the beginning of the end of my faith for me. That one day even before the ending of my marriage I walked away with a very sour taste in my mouth, and I was angry. I was angry that this man would judge me the way he did. Yes, I think science would glorify God, if a god existed. But I don’t believe one does because as far back as recorded history, religion has feared science, or has discouraged against it, or even called it a sin. Once upon a time people were afraid to look at the stars because “star-gazing” was banned by the church–it was devil’s work. We once knew as a species the world was round–our ancient forbears had compasses and knew how to navigate on the sea. Then along came religion to warn about there being an edge where boats just fall off and horrible monsters beneath the waves, inciting fear in people’s hearts. Fear to explore. Fear to discover. Fear to learn and fear to question. We were dumbed down as a species, and it was all so we could believe in fantastical explanations and live and exist the way the church wanted us to.
If there really is a God, science would not be a threat to any true religion that followed him. Science would be uncovering more and proofs for his existence, and would be welcomed, rather than feared.
I have always just wanted my life to be true, and what I am led to believe about the world, to be true. Most of my life has been one false belief after another. First belief in my mother. Then my husband. Then this man I thought was my friend who let me care for him thinking he was. Then the bartender who I confided all my insecurities to, who then used that knowledge to exploit and then slander me. And religion–that was one of the last dominos to fall, and the biggest. But have I regretted for a moment the loss of the delusion? No. No more than I regretted not getting to believe in Santa anymore. Do I want to live thinking everything I do has to glorify god? Like growing up, everything I did had to be about pleasing my mother, and during my marriage everything I did had to be about getting my husband to love me again, and then that friendship where I cared for that man who I thought was my friend and I thought if I did enough good and supportive things for him he’d appreciate me as the good friend I was…
No. This is the pattern in my life that has only caused me harm. I am living to glorify myself and I am living for myself and to find myself, who I am, and to live for me.
A nontract by: Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
Organized religion always has been and remains the greatest enemy of women’s rights. In the Christian-dominated Western world, two bible verses in particular sum up the position of women:
“I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
By this third chapter of Genesis, woman lost her rights, her standing–even her identity, and motherhood became a God-inflicted curse degrading her status in the world.
In the New Testament, the bible decrees:
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”
–1 Tim. 2:11-14
One bible verse alone, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18) is responsible for the death of tens of thousands, if not millions, of women. Do women and those who care about them need further evidence of the great harm of Christianity, predicated as it has been on these and similar teachings about women?
Church writer Tertullian said “each of you women is an Eve . . . You are the gate of Hell, you are the temptress of the forbidden tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law.”
Martin Luther decreed: “If a woman grows weary and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it.”
Such teachings prompted 19th-century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to write: “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation.”
The various Christian churches fought tooth and nail against the advancement of women, opposing everything from women’s right to speak in public, to the use of anesthesia in childbirth (since the bible says women must suffer in childbirth) and woman’s suffrage. Today the most organized and formidable opponent of women’s social, economic and sexual rights remains organized religion. Religionists defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. Religious fanatics and bullies are currently engaged in an outright war of terrorism and harassment against women who have abortions and the medical staff which serves them. Those seeking to challenge inequities and advance the status of women today are fighting a massive coalition of fundamentalist Protestant and Catholic churches and religious groups mobilized to fight women’s rights, gay rights, and secular government.
Why do women remain second-class citizens? Why is there a religion-fostered war against women’s rights? Because the bible is a handbook for the subjugation of women. The bible establishes woman’s inferior status, her “uncleanliness,” her transgressions, and God-ordained master/servant relationship to man. Biblical women are possessions: fathers own them, sell them into bondage, even sacrifice them. The bible sanctions rape during wartime and in other contexts. Wives are subject to Mosaic-law sanctioned “bedchecks” as brides, and male jealousy fits and no-notice divorce as wives. The most typical biblical labels of women are “harlot” and “whore.” They are described as having evil, even satanic powers of allurement. Contempt for women’s bodies and reproductive capacity is a bedrock of the bible. The few role models offered are stereotyped, conventional and inadequate, with bible heroines admired for obedience and battle spirit. Jesus scorns his own mother, refusing to bless her, and issues dire warnings about the fate of pregnant and nursing women.
There are more than 200 bible verses that specifically belittle and demean women. Here are just a few:
(See Woe To The Women: The Bible Tells Me So for a more comprehensive list)
|Genesis||2:22||Woman created from Adam’s rib|
|3:16||Woman cursed: maternity a sin, marriage a bondage|
|19:1-8||Rape virgins instead of male angels|
|Exodus||20:17||Insulting Tenth Commandment, considering a wife to be property|
|21:7-11||Unfair rules for female servants, may be sex slaves|
|22:18||“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”|
|38:8||Women may not enter tabernacle they must support|
|Leviticus||12:1-14||Women who have sons are unclean 7 days|
|12:4-7||Women who have daughters are unclean 14 days|
|15:19-23||Menstrual periods are unclean|
|19:20-22||If master has sex with engaged woman, she shall be scourged|
|Numbers||1:2||Poll of people only includes men|
|5:13-31||Barbaric adulteress test|
|31:16-35||“Virgins” listed as war booty|
|22:5||Abomination for women to wear men’s garments, vice-versa|
|22:13-21||Barbaric virgin test|
|22:23-24||Woman raped in city, she & her rapist both stoned to death|
|22:28-29||Woman must marry her rapist|
|24:1||Men can divorce woman for “uncleanness,” not vice-versa|
|25:11-12||If woman touches foe’s penis, her hand shall be cut off|
|Judges||11:30-40||Jephthah’s nameless daughter sacrificed|
|19:22-29||Concubine sacrificed to rapist crowd to save man|
|I Kings||11:1-4||King Solomon had 700 wives & 300 concubines|
|Job||14:1-4||“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one . . .”|
|Proverbs||7:9-27||Evil women seduce men, send them to hell|
|11:22||One of numerous Proverbial putdowns|
|Isaiah||3:16-17||God scourges, rapes haughty women|
|Ezekiel||16:45||One of numerous obscene denunciations|
|Matthew||24:19||“[woe] to them that are with child”|
|Luke||2:22||Mary is unclean after birth of Jesus|
|I Corinthians||11:3-15||Man is head of woman; only man in God’s image|
|14:34-35||Women keep in silence, learn only from husbands|
|Ephesians||5:22-33||“Wives, submit . . .”|
|Colossians||3:18||More “wives submit”|
|I Timothy||2:9||Women adorn selves in shamefacedness|
|2:11-14||Women learn in silence in all subjection; Eve was sinful, Adam blameless|
Why should women–and the men who honor women–respect and support religions which preach women’s submission, which make women’s subjugation a cornerstone of their theology?
When attempts are made to base laws on the bible, women must beware. The constitutional principle of separation between church and state is the only sure barrier standing between women and the bible.
I sometimes think, now that I’m becoming aware just how many people out there feel like I do, feel all the same feelings…that we’re more like a subgroup of society. We start out, probably many of us, outcasts as children. Either outcast by our families, or outcast by our peers, or both. We grow up lacking confidence other kids take for granted. We are always trying. But there’s always some reason we don’t fit in. We’re not good looking enough, so people of the opposite gender look at us and think “I can do better,” like having outward beauty or our programmed notions of what beauty is–makes some people “better” than others?
Regardless, we grow up, those of us who didn’t quite fit in, or came from homes that didn’t really want us, and as adults we still try. But the long nights of crying ourselves to sleep, losing sleep, or just huddling in fear of some real or imagined terror…now there’s something stuck in our heads. Something wrong. We are either mentally ill, or our brains are wired wrong or we have a chemical imbalance or a combination of the above. Because we grew up trying harder than other kids, the popular “better” kids. And now what are we? We’re that sub-group of society that end up alone. Our friends aren’t there, despite how we try to be there for them. Our families…sometimes it’s not good being around the people that caused the harm in the first place or trigger memories of the harm that was done.
So we’re alone. And here we still are, trying. Trying to fit in to that other part of society we too have been programmed to believe is normal. Thinking if we do this or this or THIS we might be accepted and loved and wanted like other people.
And when we can’t fight our illness hard enough, we are forced to endure more loneliness. When we do have our little triumphs, there’s nobody around anymore to see.
I hate depression. I hate this illness nobody understands or wants to make any effort to understand. I have been locked in closets all my life and I still am. All because of this belief we carry around, that we grew up with, that to be like one of the crowd is better, our ultimate goal that’s always just out of reach…to fit in…that’s what gives us worth–that’s the key to being wanted, being successful, being SOMETHING. And until we have it, until we get over this illness we’re being punished for having, we must be shunned. We must be outsiders. We must be looked right through like we’re not even there.
This is what I say to that. Bullshit. What kind of society does this? Banishes its ill from the mainstream? They did that to lepers once; you would think in 2000 years our society would be a little more aware, a little more educated, a little more understanding. But no. We have not evolved very much at all, have we?
So how do we break from this box they’ve put us in? We say bullshit. We are not less than anyone. People look at us and say they can do better? Excuse me–we might be ill but we’re still whole people, and worth it. If you know us you’ll get to know the beauty we still carry around inside. All of us, like any other people. Like you we are unique, full of dreams and hopes and love and caring. Shame on anyone who dares to look down their nose and outcast us for having too many bad days when here we’ve put up with other people having many bad days too. Why is the playing field so one-sided?
Who decides worth of a person? How is it measured? Is it measured by looks? Popularity? Is it measured by how much money someone has or what kind of car they drive or what neighborhood they live in? Or is it measured by the kindness and caring a person has in their heart?
I see a lot of value in us. This little sub-group that finds ourselves struggling with our depression or anxiety all alone…punished for being ill, rejected by friends for being ill, despite how tired we are from always trying, despite how lost and despairing and scared and hurt we sometimes feel.
You know who I think has worth in our society? You know who I think are really great people–the kind of people I wish I could be? People who can still give of themselves when they themselves have nothing, and care and encourage, when they themselves feel their world is crashing down.
I am most thankful for the kind of people who can still care for others, even despite the hurts they feel themselves. If we have to be separated and made some kind of subgroup, I’d rather be counted as someone like this.