Sunday, November 15, 2015

“God damn it, you've got to be kind.”

I saw this video on Facebook today. Reza Aslan says, quite well, what I have been thinking. I would like to add this sentiment:

There has been a mucky surplus of agony this week. It is exhausting for me, when so many are wounded (emotionally, physically). To the aching and the enraged, I would like to quote one of my favorite authors. Kurt Vonnegut, an atheist and humanist, wrote, “Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you've got to be kind” (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater).

I have seen quite a few of my Facebook and Twitter relationships slipping into the bigotry that Reza Aslan describes, in discourse about a new LDS church policy and about Islam. It is - quite frankly - lazy, harmful, and thoughtless. Bigotry is a waste of your immense aptitude for judicious reasoning. It is reckless to say one religion or religious stance is entirely "bad" or "good." Religion becomes what humans offer it: Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, etc., all have a great capacity for virtue and a great capacity for cruelty. There exist good and faithful Muslims and Mormons; I am privileged to be acquainted with both. It is the job of each of us to think for ourselves, avoid the ease of generalization, and apply charity always.

If you are religious, and that religion gives you grace and the capacity to allow others grace, you are improved by it and I fiercely support you in it. If you are not made gentle by your belief system, and you continue coldly towards the meek or the misunderstood, I cannot sustain it. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: “I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.” Good people live on both sides of most every debate, but the best people will have one trait uniformly: empathy. Even in complete disagreement, there is room for empathy. Where empathy resides, we are all better for it. 

When kindness is not paramount, religion drops its most base purpose. It is a brave person, who remains thoughtful where skyscraping emotions loom. “Whoever is patient and forgiving, these most surely are actions due to courage” (Qur’an, Ash-Shura 42:43). I understand there are many lanes that lead to light. There are quite a number of things I do not understand. I do know the world is a massive, little house; I do believe most of the tenants are doing their utmost.

Monday, November 9, 2015

I have to admit, it's getting better

I am a dreadfully irresponsible journal-keeper, but I wanted to write about Quinn’s birthday the other day. After a few failed attempts at remembering the password to my neglected Word document “Journal,” it unlocked - presenting my most recent entry:

Seeing this entry made me curious about where I was and what I was thinking around a year ago (give or take a few months). I read this:

I know I’ve said it before: “things get better.” I’m going to keep saying it though, because it’s true, and things that are true ought to be said often. I don’t know if it’s overly personal or unnecessary to give out these entries, but here they are, hopefully helping some other tender constitution like mine.