Bigotry–Being Uncomfortable About Someone Different.

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.

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Not So Logical Testament…

Ever wonder why, in Christian bookstores, you can find so many versions of the New Testament by itself without the old?  Considering the importance of the story of Adam and Eve and the garden, which makes belief on Jesus Christ necessary, I find this odd.  Without this one event, the concept of original sin committed by childlike newly made humans of picking a piece of fruit that was forbidden, the entire structure of the Christian religion would fall.

I am no scientist or researcher.  I’m just someone with an average IQ trying to grasp the workings of this god.  But even I with my limited intellect can see something questionable in this creation story…a major contradiction… that the religion is founded upon.

God is all-knowing.  He can see the entire future and what is going to happen before it happens.   God is perfect.  This is what Christianity maintains.  He made humans  in his image.  That means the original humans would have been perfect too.  Or should have been.  Had God in his perfection set about to make a perfect creation.  But then he didn’t obviously.  Because a creation made in his image would be perfect.  Unless, that is, he failed?  Can God fail?   Or is everything he does, part of a master plan?

If God made humans in his image but didn’t do it right and they ended up flawed, corruptable, wouldn’t God have known it ahead of time that his creation was flawed and taken steps to correct the problem? If you are a sculptor making a figure out of clay and the arm falls off, wouldn’t you take the time to reattach the arm?  Or better yet start the sculpture over again so this time it has no defect, no weak point?

Clearly if God is all-knowing, he knew when he made humans that his creation had a weakness.  Not only did he know this, but he also knew ahead of time that humans would be tempted in the garden.  He would have to, because he is all-knowing and can see future events, yes?  So he would have known even before he made the earth or scattered stars across the sky that his creation mankind would fail him.  And since God cannot fail or make imperfection and/or mistakes we were made perfectly as he intended us to be–imperfect!   Human beings.  Perfectly (and purposely) made imperfect.

In the same way, God would have known when he made the angel Lucifer, that this angel was going to betray him, cause an uprising against him in heaven, and force God to cast him to the earth, thus creating his worst enemy and the cause of never-ending suffering on the earth.  And yet…God made Lucifer anyway, and, knowing ahead of time this angel would be flawed in his character, God could certainly have chosen to not make the angel at all, or perhaps remade Lucifer so he was as perfect as his other angels.  Because angels aren’t supposed to have free will like humans.   Therefore obviously it would be a flaw in that angel if it were capable of acting in defiance.   So twice now at least, God has made flawed creations.  Deliberately, because he’s all knowing.  First, by making Lucifer, who did have free will, (and then apparently other flawed angels who were capable of being turned to follow Lucifer).   And then of course with the creation of humankind, which God would have known ahead of time all the events that were about to happen.

He’d have known it when he made Lucifer, that this angel would fall, known it that Lucifer would become Satan and thus forcing God to make hell as a place separate from God for Satan and his followers to live.  God would have known ahead of time that Satan was lurking in Eden in the form of a serpent, would have known ahead of time that he put his flawed creation man in close proximity to this fallen angel and known ahead of time that the creation he had knowingly made flawed, would ultimately fail him.

If you were a ship-wright, and you made a little boat, and you decided to put a hole in its hull before placing it on a lake…would you be angry and surprised to return to the lake a few hours later and find the boat had sunk?   Would you become enraged at the boat, curse it, haul it out from the water and break it into pieces and burn it, blaming the boat for having the hole?

Essentially this is what God does in the Adam and Eve story.  He throws a tantrum when he “discovers” man and woman hiding their nakedness from him.  Yes, like he didn’t know ahead of time that man and woman would succumb to the temptation of Satan or didn’t know ahead of time that Satan whom he bungled the job of making correctly, would foil what I guess was his original plan (does God change his mind?) of having perfect immortal creations made in his image, in a garden to keep him company for all eternity?

Does any of this make sense?   So ok, another thing God knew ahead of time.  He knew because he had created human beings flawed, deliberately it seems, and Lucifer flawed, again, AWARE, and yet doing this anyway, that a gulf would be created between humans and himself.  And in fact from that moment forward humans would have to grovel and offer sacrifice and do everything in their power to make amends for the flaw that God had made in them, the flaw that God had made in Lucifer and in the angels who could defy God and follow Lucifer.  That’s alot of flaws for a perfect flawless being to create.  Which of course means they aren’t really flaws but part of God’s making that he did deliberately and knowingly.

So great.  Now he has outcasted flawed angels in this horrible place called hell because they did just as he had made them to do.  And we have a race of sentient beings who must forever give of their food, prosperity, time, energy, love…whatever…to appease this God’s wrath over the fact they too, did what he had designed them to do.

If you make a fire to burn and so it burns, would you then have a tantrum and punish it for burning?   Yet, isn’t that what God does with his creations he made flawed deliberately and so they acted as he made them to?  If you make a car with its steering wheel stuck all the way to the right so all it can do is drive in tight little circles…would you punish the car for having this flaw?   Why then does it make sense that this creator can make flawed creations, and being all-knowing as he is, being aware of the flaws as he makes these flawed creations, only to punish the flawed creation for doing just as he made them to?

A race of slaves, running to do God’s will for fear of being smited if they do not.   Giving to him in fire portions of their best crops and livestock, and all the humans after those first flawed creations inheriting that flaw, and having to do likewise…

All so God could send down his only son to be flogged, abused, and ultimately die for the fact we humans (and some of God’s own angels) were  made flawed by God, all to provide us a way to reconnect with God again and not have to make sacrifices anymore.  Christians call this a loving father.  What a role model for father’s everywhere, a superbeing who for generations planned and then oversees that it’s carried out– the murder of his own son.  All because…oh yes, that’s right, God knowingly made us flawed and therefore deserving of punishment, needing someone to die horribly so we are all washed clean in his blood.

Lovely image, that.  Isn’t it?   How odd it is that for this peaceful, loving God so often blood and pain and death are sang about and celebrated by Christians.

Did Jesus supposed sacrifice really free us of God’s judgement–God’s tyranny because certainly Satan never dreamed it up.  Free us of the horrible penalty we inherited from flawed primitives who made a mistake with a talking snake?  Christianity teaches we are born into sin.  We inherited original sin, Eve’s sin, and Adam’s, and our parent’s sin, and their parent’s sin, and their parent’s parent’s sin.  We are born corrupted and in need of fixing.  We are born flawed–more flawed creations God made deliberately, and the only way for us to avoid eternal torment in a horrible place called hell, is give over our lives to this God.   Oh, but we are given free will to choose!  And the choices?  Take a bullet in the head, or love me.  Jump into a vat of acid or love me.   Burn and suffer forever in endless torment, or love me.  How, may I ask, can this be called free will???

Why would i want to love or follow a God that deliberately and knowingly, made humans flawed and then blamed us, punished us ever since, for it?   Unlike every other living thing born on this earth, I am born broken until I beg God to make me whole again.

This is not in my view, the actions of a good and loving God.  I think if I were a very sadistic scientist in a lab and I wanted to, just for kicks, torment some rats, I’d do about the same things to them.  I’d genetically create rats with only three legs, not four.  I’d expect those rats to perform as well as or better than four-legged rats, and when they did not, I would punish them–throw them live, into a fire.  Then I’d make the offspring of those genetically engineered to be flawed rats, also born with three legs, to perish the same way, just for inheriting the desired flaw I made them to have.

These are just a few of the flaws I see in what really is the foundation of the Christian religion, a story that without it, there would be no need for Jesus Christ and belief in saviors, or for that matter a need to support churches, or spend our precious little time worshipping a bully who forced all this on us–put us in this position of dependency on him and his mercy, all on purpose apparently if he truly is all-knowing.  If God had made us correctly in the first place (and being perfect he should have been able to) and Lucifer, and those angels who followed him–we’d still be in the garden right now.  All this is according to his divine plan, Christians say.  Well then.  His divine plan was to make a flawed race of slaves and force us to surrender up our lives to him to keep from being damned forever for  having a flaw he gave us in the first place.

Depression Isolates Us

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.

The Damage of Depression. It Starts Out Small.

You don’t even know it’s happening to you. It begins when you’re little, and you find yourself forgotten a lot. Standing in a corner, or sitting by yourself, during family gatherings, surrounded by people who supposedly love you but ignore you like you’re not even there. It picks up momentum at school when you’re the odd man out, the one last chosen by a team, the one forced to play alone, or when some other sibling is favored, or you without knowing it, are being raised by someone mentally ill.

You know it so well, that feeling you get when you’re being ignored. It becomes familiar to you, so familiar you expect it, and in time you make it happen yourself, so you don’t have to feel that bite of rejection. You try to make it your own choice, your decision. You retreat into yourself, convince yourself this is what you really want, tell yourself you don’t need love, or family or friends–people.

Then one day you realize how very sad you are. You haven’t protected yourself at all, by self-isolation, and in fact it’s only allowed the roots of the seed to entwine like constrictors around your heart. Feelings of worthlessness are now a part of you. You no longer believe you deserve those things you once hoped for. Every situation, every room you enter, every person you meet, becomes a new hope and a new failure. You go in hoping this time they will see past your walls, see the love in you, the compassion, the caring and good qualities. But the worthless feeling keeps you from looking in their eyes enough, or looking in their eyes too much, or laughing nervously at all the wrong things, or saying something stupid, or trying too hard, pretending to be what you’re not, anything, everything, just so that for once, finally, it can be you who is wanted, loved, appreciated, SEEN.

It never happens, and every time it never happens the grip of darkness weaves itself tighter. It is familiar, like a favorite shirt, or an old teddy bear. You feel like it’s a friend, the one thing you have in this whole world…that feeling of utter hopelessness, so strong it makes your heart hurt, your joints ache, your eyes burn, and sleep becomes impossible, or you can’t seem to ever wake up and all you want is to sink forever deeper into your mattress until no one can find you.

Depression. You walk with it. You see through it, it covers you, it drags at you. You want to know what it’s like without it, but you don’t know and can’t remember. All you know is this, and deep down you’re convinced it’s all you deserve. So you carry it, and you hold it like a sign to the world saying this is me, you don’t want me, I don’t deserve you, I’m nothing worth loving, I have no worth.

Until it kills you finally, either in spirit or in body–and you fade out alone, starved to death of all the basic things your heart has craved and has been denied for lack of skill at finding, like Chris Candeless in the wilderness, crying out in pain how very alone and hungry you are, and there’s no one listening, no one caring–everyone agrees it’s something you don’t deserve.

Don’t tell me depression isn’t real. Don’t tell me it doesn’t take lives. It’s the only illness that takes your life before you’re dead, takes away everything you ever loved, until you reach the point there’s nothing left, and to die is not such a terrible loss after all.

Those of us who refuse to surrender, those of us who fight it every day. I hear it over and over, you have to LOVE yourself before you can love others. As if I don’t! Why am I here still in this world? Why am I getting out of bed every day and facing the same old pain, the same old battle? Because I DO love myself, and have always deep down, believed this is not what I deserve. I deserve better, and I am the only one at the front of the line, taking the blows, fighting the battle for me.