(Collage by Beppe Conti)
And no, this isn’t a sermon about how you SHOULD have Faith. I mean, in my personal opinion, you should – but that’s ME. There are 7.3 something Billion souls walking on Earth, and I wish I could tell them personally to hold on to what they believe in, to whatever gets them by – even if it’s … not God, at least not the God that I grew up to know, love, and accept.
I was raised a Catholic. Everyone in my Mother’s side of the Family were religious. We barely missed Sunday mass, we always pray the Angelus, and the Rosary (I would often recite the Litany because I memorise it!).
During my Freshman year in College, in Theology class (which was at 5:30 P.M.), I suggested that we pray the Angelus at 6:00 P.M., and our Professor was pleased to make it a habit. It was one of the few times in my adolescent life that I felt the Spirit rejoice for a, mmm, considerably bold step I made (not everyone in the class was happy about it, obviously).
Coming from a very conservative upbringing on Religion, Faith and Belief, I am overwhelmed to realise that I am now at a point in my life where I no longer find the need to impose what I choose to believe in, but rather to be VERY ACCEPTING of people who found themselves in a path where they find peace and happiness to say the words : I do not believe in God.
And I, in turn, say : I support you, 101%.
It was in mid-2000 when I found out that two of my closest friends were Atheists. At the time we were very naïve and immature, often debating about our differences, and I always end up feeling beat and bruised in the corner after a strain of stressful exchanges, unanswered questions, etc. etc.
I was, what they would call, a Radical religious person. I later realised that it’s nothing personal, REALLY. It’s not your fault if you believe in what other people don’t. It’s not God’s or your friends’ fault either. Debating with non-believers is always POINTLESS. ALWAYS. You cannot miraculously make people believe (unless there is Divine Intervention, I guess), and their choice not to side with you DOES NOT MAKE THEM BAD PEOPLE. We were never meant to ALL think alike. Where is the free will there? And what makes you think what YOU believe in is the ONLY CORRECT PATH TO TAKE?
See, before you assume I’m all judgy, you’re wrong. It’s not bad to have such strong faith. But I’m saying that it’s not cool that you shove EVERYTHING you believe in down people’s throats. I learned that the hard way. Said it a hunnet times and I’ll say it again : Your Faith is supposed to humble you, not put you on a pedestal. YOUR FAITH DOES NOT GIVE YOU ANY RIGHT TO ACT LIKE YOU ARE BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE. If your faith is strong, good for you. If the person sitting next to you says “There is no God”, you don’t get up on your high horse, my friend – you just pray for them in silence. But that’s just me.
I mean, I’m best friends with Atheists. We’ve survived the shitty part of the process where our friendship transitioned from petty, to pretty serious. We have been accepting of each other. And to be honest, it’s one of the easiest, most stress-free relationships of my life. The closest people to me are Muslims (And if I’m being honest they have been more accepting of me than most of my friends). I grew up in an Islamic Country, and have nothing but love and respect for everyone here. I have nothing but love and respect for EVERY. SINGLE. LIVING. BEING. regardless of their religion, race, gender.
I believe in God. I cannot tell people to do the same. But as I type this entry, I feel that God is just telling me to try my best to tell whoever I can to try and be good people, even if they don’t end up believing in Him the way I do. You don’t have to be religious or spiritual to be a good person. For me, that’s all that God wants us to be… Just good, happy people. I know not everyone believes in Judgment day, but I do – and to me, what matters is how we make use of our lives. In this time, the question is no longer “What have you done to bring glory to God?” but “What have you done to bring glory to the life that God gave you?”, or, fine – “What have you done to bring glory to the life you are blessed with … by umm … Science?” (or what entity or being or thing it is that you truly believe in).
Lately, someone closest to me said “I am slowly becoming an Atheist”. And this is a person who grew up MORE CATHOLIC than me. Someone who ACTUALLY came from Seminary School. And I was so shocked (not from what he said, but) by how C A L M, and at peace I actually was hearing those words.
God does not want me to be a violent, hateful person to people who choose not to believe in Him. That’s not what He is all about. That DEFIES what He stands for. To state the obvious, GOD IS LOVE, my friends. I may not be as “active in church” as I once was, but that doesn’t make me any less of a person. Never have I ever felt that He has abandoned me.
This is also why I think Oprah’s part documentary is so important for everyone to see (myself included, couldn’t find a decent site to stream this), but she discussed it during her Colbert guesting and the gist is as touching as you’d expect anything to be, coming from Oprah.
Here’s the official trailer :
This is going to sound silly and stupid – but God taught me to be ACCEPTING. OF EVERYONE. EVERY SINGLE ONE (except really bad people like Rapists and Murderers and people who are cruel to Animals and people who hit on me and think I’m a whore just because I’m out alone). I feel like I am a better instrument of His by just being RESPECTFUL to every single Human Being on Earth. I think, in this manner, I am spreading His love in a more accepting, somehow visible way.
Religion is supposed to be bringing us together, despite of its different ways of practices, praising, worshipping, despite the different names we call Him, despite the difference of BEINGS we call God (but alas – our Ancestors used this as a weapon, used it as a reason to kill, to conquer. Who thinks killing will make God happy? Because … man, you have a lot to mull over).
But sadly, it is the same kind of thinking that was passed on down to this generation, which I believe and hope(d – past tense because I am so done with most of Humanity) SHOULD and WOULD KNOW BETTER.
All I’m saying is, at a time like this when nothing really good ever comes out of all the News Channels, you should simply do your best to become the Happy, Content, Good Human Being you’re supposed to be. By all means, please live your life. It is not going to be easy, and people will be cruel. But be yourself, and hold on to something that could help you get by.
Something that will keep making you believe.