I would have made a horrible disciple
I can’t remember exactly when it was but I do recall the moment I realized the world can be a horrible place filled with horrible people. I was probably seven years old or so, and for whatever reason, I caught the ten o’clock news. There were awful stories about unimaginable things that terrible people did. And it dawned on me.
They were people.
Well, I’m a person. Should I be worried? Am I going to do something like that? No, no, no. That’s not me. I could never do something like that. Those people are different. But still…they’re human, the same as me.
Yeah, I didn’t like that. And just to add an extra special flavor of complexity, news stories also come with details like the color of the person’s skin, or the gender, or where they lived, if they were on government assistance, or were of a particular faith. Wait a minute; a person’s religious beliefs can impact their behavior?
#Innocent #Naive #Oblivious
Again, something in my life I didn’t understand. So, I watched, read, and learned about what exactly people did in the name of God. And you know what? The worst things seem to get the most publicity. And that sucks.
Confound it! Where are your principles?!
I had to find some code, rules, or set of guiding principles that would allow me to cope with all the competing thoughts and ideas around faith in the world. And here’s what I came up with.
“As long as your beliefs do not include harming yourself or another person, and you don’t try to force your beliefs on another person, then I don’t care what you believe. “
Makes sense right? For all intents and purposes, I thought I had stumbled upon some secret answer. Now, my background is one where I didn’t have the chance to figure out what I believed; it was told to me. So when I realized that statement above was my personal guide, it hit me like a revelation. And almost immediately afterward, I realized the flaw in my mantra.
Other people. People who don’t believe that. People who actually believe the opposite of that. People who don’t care if they hurt others.
Well, now I’m frustrated again. Because I know what it’s like to have people force their beliefs on you and get mad when you question it. And I know what it’s like to have people think they know everything about you simply because you say you’re a person of faith.
- Do you hold up signs that begin with, “God hates…”?
- Do you look down on others for past decisions they’ve made?
- Do you believe a person’s worth is rooted in their skin color, gender, or sexuality?
- Do you justify your own bad choices because you go to church for an hour on Sunday?
- Do you think it’s okay when you do it because you’re not as bad as other people?
Yep. Those are some tough questions. Then again, they’re only tough depending on how you answer them. And everyone’s instinct is to deny and hide their faults. Especially the really nasty ones. However, faults are also a common denominator among every human on the planet. The important thing (and one of the hardest) is that you train and practice your ability to recognize the faults you have.
Reflection, self-awareness, meditation, hot yoga, raging in a mosh pit—whatever helps you see the things you need to work on. And there are things you need to work on. There are things I’ve been working on for years and won’t ever stop working on. But I know those things about myself and I’m ready and willing to face them. It doesn’t mean I’m always right or good at overcoming my faults. But I’m trying. I’m not giving up. And what more can I ask of myself?
Probably still more, actually, but really, what can you ask of yourself?
written by: Zach Hardison, March 2, 2017
Zachary Koala Hardison is an eternal optimist, published author, and creative storyteller. He lives in New Albany, OH, with his wife, daughter, and two cats. If interested, you can find info on his book at cursetheday.com.