Yesterday, a friend of mine posted on her Facebook the status, “Bible-wielding Christians are no better than racists.” Now, I’m not pointing out this status so people can either “rah rah” for her or to “boo boo” at her or whatever particular sentiment they would have. I’m not posting about this status to be an asshole or to demand that others point at her and make her feel badly. And I don’t bring it up to make that person feel bad, myself. I’m only pointing it out because I had a fairly visceral reaction to the conversation that then took place (run down: I was sarcastic, then said I sympathized, someone said something filled with asshattery about Muslims, and it downshifted from there). I realized something, had an epiphany, I guess.
I’m pretty fucking done with intolerance in any form.
You see, I was a very intolerant person for a very long time. When it came to hearing anything about an Abrahamic faith up until a few years ago, I’d shut you down. I wasn’t savvy enough to quote Bible passages back at a person, but I would thrust my intolerance right in their faces. And a lot of times, I got it handed right the fuck back to me. It was so horrible that I wouldn’t be able to have a civil conversation about anything to do with faith, whatsoever. Now, a part of that was my own inability to see someone else’s point-of-view or even bother to hear another point-of-view dissimilar to my own. (Funny since I love hearing others’ points-of-view now, right?) And another part of it was because I was married to a manipulative fucktard who wanted his religion to be my religion, which meant that if he was Christian at that time, then I had to agree. And if he was doing his quasi-zen Buddhist, Taoist whatever fuckery, then I had to go along with that as well. But, really, a big part of my intolerance had to do with my atheism. Since I didn’t believe in anything, then I didn’t want to hear about other peoples’ beliefs. But, intrinsically, it was a kind of… hatred for the western religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) that made me so intolerant about it.
My intolerance was so bad that when my best friend (in Texas) converted to Christianity, she was worried about my reaction to it. This was after I had begun to realize that, you know, I was being an asshat and I needed to stop. But, I never made those changes obvious to others, so they just assumed that I was still an intolerant asshat. The thing was that I had made my viewpoints about Christianity well known to that point, which was that it was little better than a cult of sorts that was designed to ensnare you more fully than Jim Jones or Charles Manson. Yes, I was really fucking intolerant. The whole thing with my best friend, more than anything else, made me realize that I had to let go of whatever it was that was making me hate the Christian faith so much. (Now, I’ll be honest. Judaism and Islam have never really figured much into my intolerance, believe it or not. I think part of it is because I wasn’t raised to know much, if anything, about those religions so they didn’t really register as being important enough to form an opinion about, you know?) I didn’t want to ruin a friendship that was beyond anything and very important to me because I was being a fucking idiot. So, though I had already made a few strides in the direction of tolerance, I’ve made myself more focused and more able to see points-of-view coming from others’ belief systems.
A part of this has to do with my living in ma’at, but a lot of this has to do with my mother. (Wait, what?) When I told her that I was looking into paganism, as I’ve said a million times before, she just about fell to her knees and praised god, crying, “At least you finally believe in something!” Yeah, it wasn’t really the reaction I was thinking I would get – after having read others’ negative parental reactions to practicing paganism and being outed and my ex-husband’s asshole reaction to my practicing paganism – but it was an eye opener. It never mattered to my mother what I believed in, as long as it was something. And I’ve taken this point-of-view to heart. It’s one of my personal aspects to what living in ma’at is and one of my personal 42 Negative Confessions. (I bet you’re curious about that, eh? Well, be curious. I’m not talking yet.) “I have not been intolerant of others’ belief systems.” This is part and parcel to what I practice and it’s with this part of my faith in place, solidly, that I realized something…
I’m finding myself less tolerant of people who aren’t tolerant of others’ beliefs.
How’s that for ironic?!
When a person decides that someone is a douche-bag, waving their religion around like it’s the hottest thing since sliced bread, and turn back to that person with an asshole attitude, then this is intolerable to me. I don’t agree with other peoples’ belief systems. I don’t think that Christianity is the next best thing. I don’t think the Islam is the way to go. I don’t think that Celtic Recon is the be-all, end-all, but I let them have their beliefs as they let me have mine. They don’t have to agree or even line up in any way, but there should be acceptance. There should be tolerance. What I cannot abide by is when someone makes a blanketed statement as I’ve quoted above and just assume that they can get away with that. That is wrong. That is sinful. That is intolerable. And that is foolish. And all they’re doing is breeding more hatred, more intolerance, and where does that leave us? It leaves us with a fractured culture that cannot even begin to look into saving our planet, much less saving ourselves. If we’re so busy hating on others because they take their faith to a negative place and misuse it, then who the fuck are we to judge? We’re doing it right the fuck back by making blanketed asshole comments like that!
I realize that it’s human nature to be intolerant about things, especially as hot-blooded as religion. However, there are parts of the Bible that are things we should all (pagan or otherwise) pay attention to. If I’m not mistaken, the Christ sat down and ate dinner with his detractors. He sat down with the very man who sold him to the Romans, knowing what would happen, and never even had any of those people question how he felt about Judas. I’m not saying that we should all look to the Bible for this kind of behavior and live it. What I am saying is that we should take this particular lesson to heart. I know some very awesome Christians who do not judge others. I know that there are Muslims, Jews, and pagans who live similarly. But, how are we to sit there and show the intolerant people how it is done if we do it right back?
Intolerance only breeds more intolerance. That’s the lesson.
(As a very quick note and because I’m seething about it. The end of the person’s FB status “discussion” about it stemmed from her sister, who told us all that we were fucking assholes for not asking the person in question why she had a bad day. What I have to say to this is that if you are going to make statements about a religion that are as blanketed as that, especially in a public venue, then you should probably be prepared to back your shit up instead of having your sister ream everyone out for not asking you about why you had a bad day. Just sayin’.)