One of my friends recently confided in me about her return to church, and her general spiritual journey recently. She’s undergone some philosophical changes related to church and what it’s like to be religious and have faith in the 21st century, especially as someone in the LGBTQIA+ community. I understand her skepticism and interest, and how those can combine into a legitimate feeling of angst towards religion in general. I haven’t been majorly religious in awhile, not since I was a freshman in high school at least, when I decided to drop out of the catechism program and abandon my Roman Catholic upbringing. It wasn’t without the consent of my parents, though, and even though my grandparents would ask about it afterwards, it never became a hot topic at our dinner table discussions. It was always just swept under the rug or people pretended like it didn’t really exist as a problem to them.
In my eyes, going to church is still an act of personal growth. You’re reaching out to something greater than yourself for validation and inspiration. It’s heartwarming to see, at least when it’s not being weaponized as a tool to oppress minorities or other marginalized groups. You’re using your time for an actually legitimate reason and it does make a lot of sense to me. Just because I don’t do it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate others who go there. As an adult, I understand that how you decide to use your free time is important. You can devote as much time as you want to your hobbies, but ultimately, if you want to succeed as a person, you have to focus on what makes you happy. And sometimes that involves being around other people and chanting hymns with each other. What’s not to like about that?
When I was younger, I was obsessed with the question of whether God was real or not. Now, later in life, I don’t think about that question much if at all because I’ve matured into realizing that, regardless of God’s existence, we still have to try our best in our lives to leave a positive impression on the world. That, whether or not we live in a world governed by a higher power that will judge our actions in the afterlife, it’s still important for us to act justly and morally and ethically always in all the things we do. Don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t steal. Don’t break promises, don’t act rudely toward other people, don’t lapse into bouts of anger over nothing. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
That’s what our purpose is. Whether or not there is a God, we still must act in a way that is positive. I can only hope that more people adopt this basic philosophy, so that they could stop acting so heinously towards others. Terrorism, white supremacist terrorism especially, is running rampant throughout the United States. Lonely young white boys are posting on anonymous image/message boards, planning attacks on those they feel do not belong inside the made-up boundaries of this country. It makes me sick to think about some of their attitudes, knowing that these are human beings first and foremost, but they’ve forsaken their own humanity.
If humanity is what counts, then be the best human you can be during your life, and the rest will follow. Always work towards justice and righteousness, and never allow intolerance and bigotry to fester around you. There is a world out there for us to create that allows everyone to be treated equally, but it’s a monumental task, and it won’t be easy.
I haven’t written metaphorically in a while, and I want to remedy that with some thoughts about purpose and life.
A lot of us go through life wondering what our purpose is, why we’re here, what reason we have for being alive. I don’t mean that to sound depressing. What I’m saying is, in an existential sense, there may not be a strong, set-in-stone purpose to our lives, and that might be a good thing. Isn’t it better to be free of a greater obligation, so that you can determine your own course in life? Though our lives are, in no small way, impacted by our location of birth, race, gender, sexuality, and a host of other factors, I’d like to believe in the perhaps fairytale-like dream that we still live in a world in which you can freely pursue (but not necessarily achieve) whatever career or profession you want. I completely understand that that may not be true for everyone, especially those who are wrongfully and tragically persecuted and judged by the intolerant, but I will persist in delusion for the time being if it’s my sanity at stake.
Some people, when confronted with this dilemma, look to religion and bolster their faith in a higher power, while others look inward and reflect on the lives they’ve touched, the bonds they’ve created, and the worlds they’ve visited and explored. I don’t think either option is wrong, but I think, at least for me, I’m looking in the latter direction, personally. I like to travel, I like to socialize with people who are good listeners, and I like to reflect on my experiences. I think those things alone are meaningful and significant to me, and I can find purpose in living, knowing that my experiences are meaningful in and of themselves.