One of the unfortunate aspects of my situation is the fundamentalist street preachers can find me easily. More easily, compared to most who have access and are viewed more socially favorable.
During the course of conversation, many things came up that were uncomfortable, and frankly, to some regard, prejudice. I want to express a very clear, and very important factor, before I begin.
Not all religious people are the same, and are subject to the same individuality that I have within myself. I have always expressed a favorable view to Unitarian Universalists, Reform Jews, and other more progressive (leftist) theologies, as opposed to Orthodox, and more conservative religious groups and sects. I admit a personal bias, but do not censor myself from the criticisms and views of others that disagree with my personal views, including within the groups I favor.
This was one of the things said directly at me when these individuals approached me. I found it pretty distasteful to insinuate that the government is occupied by thieves. This is a stereotype and fundamentally an incorrect approach to engaging with local, state wide, and national government.
I trace the roots to this statement back to one of the Presidents I have never had much taste for, Ronald Reagan, who said this:
It’s far more complicated than President Reagan depicts. He attacks intellectualism as harmful and elitist, even though this correlation simply doesn’t exist (plenty of socialists have been intellectual and were not in control of the government, such as Karl Marx and Richard Dawkins). Government doesn’t function as the catch-all panacea for all of the problems that exist, it was not created in that way, and wouldn’t stand right to do so. Government does have standing in protecting minorities from harm in society, as it has done for centuries, and holding up liberty and freedom (although, we don’t have these in absolutes).
Distancing ourselves from government can also hurt us in a lot of ways, because of what good government can do, when we believe we can and should engage with those connected to it.
During the Prayer part that these individuals did, I couldn’t help but notice that I was chided as a ‘broken person.’ How and when does a person become ‘broken’? In some ways, we function like machines and computers, but with things like consciousness and social norms, these definitions are very likely to change, and be different depending upon regional norms throughout our country. Certainly not a simple thing to delve into.
Most importantly, though, this is a clear statement of prejudice against those who have less than others in society. The idea that having less (or no property) makes someone broken is a terrible narrative that rely seeks to allow the perpetrator to feel better about himself, instead of the person being addressed. That comes down to one thing: power.
It’s important to recognize that property ownership isn’t a sole indicator of wealth. A person’s individual brilliance and capability isn’t measured by who has the most toys. A person’s morals also aren’t gauged by this same factor. One must consider that maybe someone has less because they made a decision to not engage with popular culture, and may have important and valid insights into things we forget as important and valuable.
People are simply not broken. Different, eccentric, apprehensive, afraid, uncertain, facing challenges (who isn’t?), wanting challenges, and always in the midst of personal discovery. People are not broken, and needing fixing… People are not objects to do our bidding. That must always be remembered.
“healing…taking Jesus…into your heart”
This is always a problematic as I question his existence. Given in a previous post, I indicated that there was too much focus on the biological factor of mental illness, a religious means would indicate that such a biological reason would then, also, be ruled out. The other thing to consider is the assumption that mental illness is also an automatic cause of “trouble” and “problems.” It’s a social phenomena, not a social disease.
Other people, even the best of us, are fundamentally flawed. Prejudice, vindictive, narcissistic, passive-aggressive, sadomasochist, righteous, opinionated, and so on. The same people who have been that way, were also open-minded, kind-hearted, authentic, passionate, confident, affectionate, willing, and diplomatic. Each of us is the sum of the best and worst qualities we can be as humans, and anything we can imagine. It’s a fundamental part of the human condition that we are the sum of all of us.
“saved by Jesus/God…Marathon”
One of the topics that came up was that one of the other persons present was at the Boston Marathon, and of course, I had been. It seemed odd for this to come up in conversation, but that is a plausible occurrence, actually, given how open I am about things. Without a beat, I sort of addressed it in the articulate way dispelling any idea that any sort of deity was involved.
I happened to be located past the end of the finish line, period. That was a single major factor. When the events happened, I was located in an area where people involved with those activities had less interest, because many of their mechanizations are about creating fear in public places, such as public transit. My location at the time was outside the zone where the effect would have been the most desired with this activity. We’re not discussing a blessing saved by a mysterious deity, we’re talking about social science.
Overall, this conversation lead to the same ideas and same presentations I am not willing to engage with: Predatory behaviors.
There was no reason to make a massive anti-government statement and expect me to agree or want me to listen to such hateful, undignified language. There was no valid reason to make the conversation about the government at all. I have noticed the trend that anti-government pundits assert that the government is this nebulous entity out to get you like the Boogie Man, when the Boogie Man is actually a fiction that you can find on Charmed (Yes, I talk about this fictionalized show sometimes):
The Government isn’t hiding in your basement ready to get you at your weakest moment. You might be a little paranoid, though.
1. Asserting that the cause of me being in a undesirable circumstance had anything to do with my personal faults simply isn’t true. This is how street preachers use guilt to their advantage by suggesting I wasn’t ‘good enough,’ or ‘man enough,’ or some other very silly thing. Everyone has faults, and is faulty, so there is no reason to place blame for this. This is most certainly exploitative as well, as I had made sure to notice the person’s very snazzy vehicle. It was a way of saying, “I’m religious and know what’s right! Look at how good my life is.” Load. Of. Crap.
2. I don’t believe in Jesus or God. I’m an Atheist. It’s not an open door to take advantage of.
3. Prayer is a fundamental way of saying “I don’t know what to do and I will act differently about it.” Me actually not knowing isn’t abnormal in nature. There are a lot of people who have done great things, accrued a lot of wealth, and help change the world (for the better and worse) who at one point didn’t know what to do. It could be called the Welcome Mat to being human.