"I need to go pee."
"Go on, then."
He was so upset that he shuffled into the bathroom, stood in front of the toilet, and peed in his diaper. Lip out and blotchy-cheeked, he started to cry. I sat down next to him and wrapped him up in my arm, wiping his face.
"Why ya cryin?" I asked.
"I not tired and I not sleepy and I just wanna go out. And that's my question."
For the next 45 minutes we sat on the couch and had a talk about "his favorites": favorite color (orange), favorite thing to eat (strawberries and grapes), favorite place to sit (the "ball game" chair in his room), and on and on.
Earlier in the day, I'd engaged in a forum about one of Lady Gaga's latest music videos that employed a lot of Catholic imagery (I don't feel like linking to either the forum or the video, but they wouldn't be that hard to find if you feel like it). The gist of it is, I don't think Gaga was trying to do anything except stir the pot, which she does exceptionally well. I also mentioned that it's invalidating and even silly for people who aren't religious to denigrate the faith of the religious as "fairy tales" (which had been happening, with frequency, in the forum).
Someone commented that my assertion that everyone has faith in something is tired. Maybe so, but isn't it true? I replied that faith in the unprovable or as-yet-unproven isn't something that's exclusive to the religious. (I didn't even mention about faith being a trust for future actions based on the past; for instance, I have faith that the chair I sit on every evening for dinner will hold my weight tomorrow, just as it's done today.)
Anyway, that's not even what bothered me. Nor was the anti-religious and anti-religious-people and anti-people-who-believe-in-God-at-all sentiments surprising or offensive. I expect a wide differential of opinions and beliefs, and I concur that everyone has the right to choose what he or she believes, even if they believe something I don't.
What bothered me was the militancy of several commenters. It rubbed me the wrong way, sure, because when a discussion becomes a debate and then an argument, what's the use? But it frightened me and saddened me as well. I'm sad that so many people have been hurt by organized religion and the misapplication of doctrine (at best) and crusading (at worst) by people who gather under a religious banner. And it frightened me to see several people—presumably highly educated people, based on the jargon—admit firmly and unabashedly their hatred for others based on their religious identity. Is that not, essentially, the very thing they claim to despise about the religious?
I mean, holy cow, right? (No pun intended, nor offense for those who may consider cows holy.) It frightens me that folks who are smart enough to employ esoteric academic language and toss around erudite cultural and gender theory with ease would be so willingly blind to the dangers of blanket hatred. Education, it seems, does not cover all manner of evil.
Not to be braggy or anything, but I've paid for enough education to be able to throw around theory and spout rhetoric so overused it's lost all meaning once intended. But who really cares? How does a cumbersome string of qualifying adjectives do anything to truly define who I am? How will "checking my privilege" change the realities that influence my point of view?
I'm just tired of talking without meaning, pretending that what I think has nothing to do with how I feel, and arguing with no intention toward empathy. I'd rather get to the heart of differences instead of circling them like boxers in a ring. I'd rather have real conversations with low-brow vocabulary.
A good place to start, I think, is favorites.
i don't believe. i know a lot of people who don't believe either. but the difference between me and a lot of them is that i don't think religion is automatically a bad thing. the whole point of being without faith is that you don't know what put us here. i don't know what did. so i don't presume. i wish more people would be that way.
magnolia—Wouldn't conversations (and life) be so much better if we all admitted that we don't have as many answers as we wish we did? You have to make decisions about some things so you're not paralyzed in life, but there's so much room for error on both sides of the aisle (that's how they put it in your neck of the woods, right?) ;)
If I could start a slow clap via blog comments, I would do so right now. Well written and insightful as always my friend!
this post is exactly why i have read your blog for so long, and why i think we'd be great real life friends :) tired of talking without meaning... how many days of conversation does this apply to for most of us? thank you.
Kate—The slow clap is one of my favorite ways to show appreciation, so I am flattered.
Kristin—A) Thank you for reading my blog, and B) Agreed. I think most of us think of the whole "How are you doing?" nicety and how we rarely if ever answer honestly, and how people who do answer honestly are kind of downers or braggers, depending. But it's really more than that, isn't it? Because the nicety really isn't intended to mean much. If we got beyond the niceties with people—you know, by actually caring about more people—we'd naturally know more about each other.
Well done Erin. Talking favs with the little ones is something I should be doing more often.
My favorite ice cream is Ben and Jerry's "Toffee Heath Bar Crunch". Just so ya know ;-)
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