have a leftist, liberal, secular new year…

The last while I’ve been getting ready for Christmas and dealing with the various stressors of the season and the normal stressors of my life and I keep thinking about writing and then putting it off and then realizing some things.

I really don’t want to offend people. I don’t want to create a controversy and I really, really don’t want to do that here in my safe place on the blog. That means, as I’ve said before, I don’t generally talk about politics or my opinions. And sometimes —- That Sucks.

It isn’t that I think everyone should agree with me. I don’t care if you don’t agree, I care that people sometimes react to my expressing an opinion with this wounded hurt. I don’t want to hurt people. So, if you think you might be offended by my liberal, secular, leftist opinion, stop reading now. It’s okay.

I wanted to say something about the Newtown massacre. It was singularly nauseating and some of the reaction to it has been heartwarming and some nauseates me even more. I’ll tell you here, I’m totally for gun control. While I support the ideals behind the second amendment, I think guns and gun rights have gone way, way beyond it’s intent. And the argument that guns don’t kill people, people kill people makes me nauseous, too. Sure, guns don’t kill people but they sure make it a hell of a lot easier to kill people. And hand grenades, bombs and tanks don’t kill people, either. But we don’t have the NRA advocating that we should have the right to keep bombs for self defense or for bomb making hobbyists. Yet. Unfortunately, I’m a realist. I sure don’t have any idea how we would go about getting real gun control and I don’t actually believe it’s possible anymore. So, that makes my opinion really, really not useful. Sure, I’m for some vague fairy-tale gun control. On the other hand, I’m also in favor of curing cancer and I don’t know how to do that either. I’m hoping that someone smarter than me figures it out.

It’s also a problem for me that there’s been an attempt to shift the focus to mental illness. Yes, mental illness is a problem and access to good and affordable care is a real issue. But, there is no evidence to suggest that someone with a mental illness who has no history of violence or substance abuse is any more likely to commit a violent crime than anyone else. It’s a short and scary step from “we need to have better care available to the mentally ill” and “we should lock them all up and neuter them.” It really wasn’t that long ago that that was the norm, anyway, and it didn’t work. It’s a distraction and it bothers me. It’s like – we don’t really need gun control, we just need to do something about these mentally ill people.

It bothers me, to some extent, that I don’t want to say these things here – or anywhere online. Because I don’t want to upset people. If I was writing a political blog whose point was to bring up these controversial issues, that’d be different. But just because I’m not doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes have an opinion.

I was thinking today (or yesterday, rather) about making a Christmas post wishing everyone a Happy Christmas. I looked at music videos and funny cat images to stick in a nice secular post. But Christmas is harder this year. The tragedies in Newtown, Oregon, Colorado, California, as well as New York and the eastern seaboard and many, many other places, make the idea of having a “Merry” Christmas somewhat repellent to me. Still, the season, to me, is about life and love and family and peace and those are good things, despite the pain and heartaches of life.

I found this nice image last year that I really liked. It didn’t make it into my blog header either December but I still liked the idea.

coexist2

I didn’t even realize it was a movement. But when I started looking for a fresh image (and there are a bunch of different versions) I discovered that it is an actual movement. So I wanted to read more about it. And the top Google result was from The Ignorant Fisherman who wrote “At the heart of this movement is the abandonment of core absolutes and values for a relativistic delusion (moral and spiritual.) This movement seeks to undermine personal beliefs and practices for the supposed “betterment” of world unification.”

You have got to be kidding me. Okay, I am, once again, all for the right to free thought and speech and I’ll defend your right to whatever crackpot (to me) idea you have. A friend of mine and I were having a discussion recently about how we tend to assume that people think the same way we do. I am always shocked when I discover that a good friend is against gay marriage or access to affordable birth control or votes Republican. These are people I like, how can they possibly think that differently from me?

But how can respect and tolerance for people of different beliefs and religions be a bad thing? It feels very twisted to me to extrapolate that respect and tolerance are really sneaky ways of trying to tear down your beliefs.

I’m an atheist, or an agnostic, depending on when you ask me. I probably fit better into the agnostic box because, while I don’t believe in a god, I am not so grandiose to think that I am necessarily right. For all I know, there could be a god and I’ll be sent straight to hell when I die. I don’t think so, but who am I to say anyone who thinks so is wrong?

I ran into this quote some years ago and figured he was probably talking about me:

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist
but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.
Eric Hoffer

I don’t feel a need to go around preaching about why I think there is no god. I don’t need you to agree with me and I don’t get upset when someone wants to pray for me. I think that good thoughts, prayers with good intentions, positive vibes, and well wishes are all good things. It is positive energy whether or not there is a god out there listening. I try to respect others’ beliefs even when I disagree with them. I do get weirded out by some of the farther off center religions but provided they aren’t hurting me or others, I’m not getting my knickers in a twist. For me, that’s coexisting. Being tolerant of people different from you is not about destroying your own beliefs – it’s just growing your heart a couple sizes bigger.

So, I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. It was mostly calm and peaceful here – except I’m sick. I have all these nice Christmas dinner leftovers and made chicken soup for dinner. Oh well, this too shall pass.

And I wish us all a new year of peace, love, joy and acceptance.

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12 thoughts on “have a leftist, liberal, secular new year…”

    1. We need a peaceful co-existence day! I found out that Dec. 30th is National Bicarbonate Day (you’d think that’s be January 1?) but no co-existence.

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  1. Great post. I don’t see that anyone’s religious opinions harm me unless they dictate how I should morally live or try to force them down my throat. That’s my main issue with religion. I am also shocked when people I really like turn out to have way different political opinions from me. So weird!

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    1. That’s what I was trying to say, Margaret. I’ve got to add that it’s an issue for me when people assume that I have no moral standards since I have no religion. But I suppose that’s a whole different rant.

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  2. It is interesting to me how accepting other people for who they are and what they believe is so difficult for some individuals to do. I cannot fathom how anyone, Christian or not, could be offended by those COEXIST bumper stickers, but obviously I wasn’t thinking abstractly enough. Or paranoid enough.

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    1. I see it in me, sometimes, when someone’s beliefs are — at least to me — hurtful to other people. But, provided they aren’t burning crosses or crashing funerals or other things like that, I try to let go and let them think as they wish. I always say that I’m intolerant of intolerance.

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  3. As far as I know, I’m probably the only somewhat conservative Christian who comments on this blog. You can say anything you wish on your own blog, you know. I am not surprised when people are different or even opposite from me, but all – every single one – of my more liberal friends have seemed shocked to learn that I voted Republican or that I am pro-life. Do I just look liberal or something? 😉

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    1. You’re not the only conservative person who has read the blog – perhaps the others have run away? But you’re seriously not my only conservative friend.

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  4. I’m just happy to see the words “conservative” and “friend” in the same sentence. 🙂 Happy New Year, Zazzy! I always hope for good things ahead.

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  5. I run left and right on things and have come to realize that I am somewhat of a Libertarian except about health care where I am a bleeding heart socialist. I am a recovering Southern Baptist who now considers herself to be agnostic. I am in a difficult spot because most of my family are raving teabag/birthers. I can’t keep completely quiet over the (from my perspective) completely asinine things they believe in.
    I have gained new perspective from my Hindu coworker. We politely discuss the differences between her Gods and My God (who I am not sure about anymore). She is vegetarian and asks only to be allowed to be who she is. On the home front she is besieged by doubtless well meaning but utterly clueless Mormons and other Christians who constantly attempt to save her and her family in the name of “The One True God”. I find myself fiercely protective of her in our work environment. I like her for being the gentle Hindu that she is and I deal harshly with those who are ignorant in their assertions and interactions with her.

    I am very pro second amendment even in light of the past few months, but I bet that you and I could sit down to dinner and have a wonderfully respectful conversation about our differences of opinion.
    And that’s how it ought to be.

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    1. I miss having interesting conversations about differing opinions. It seems like, maybe since the internet became normal, that most people are so determined that only their own viewpoint is right. I’m sure I am like that sometimes but I do try to understand that an opinion is an opinion, not something written in stone as a great truth. It’s generally only with good friends that I’m willing to express an opinion. Most of the time, we can respect each others differences.

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