I've had a ton of stuff on my mind to write about. Usually I just push it aside and figure it's not worth my effort, knowing I'm never going to read my own stuff with an unobstructed lens and not many others are going to read it and get anything from it. However, I think a certain clarity can possibly be gained from having to process thoughts enough to write a coherent piece.
One thing I've been honed in on lately is how much people like to judge other people. Holy smokes, it's out of control! I think the entire country just needs to take a 3-month hiatus from having electric and running water. Maybe if we had to work our rear ends off for mere survival, we'd have less time to be jerks.
While I'm on the subject of people being all judgy, I've been doing a ton of thinking about religion and what makes that whole mess go around. I don't come into contact with a very wide variety of religious backgrounds/belief systems. I suppose that's a blessing, but I think it also discourages any kind of self-evaluation in regards to personal beliefs and, consequently, behaviors toward those with opposing, or even just different, beliefs.
Not to pick at any particular religious group, but since the vast majority of people with whom I have come into contact are either Christian or Agnostic with a sprinkling of Atheism and Jehova Witnesses strewn about, I have only had these groups to observe. I consider myself to be a Christian, but with that said, I get incredibly hung up on others of the same group who are constantly bashing other groups of people whether it be for a differing religious belief system, lifestyle, family structure, race, political views, etc. My personal belief is that it's my job to go about my business and do the best that I can to treat others kindly and be a good example. Beyond that, I'll believe what I believe and everyone else can believe what they believe. It's not my place to judge or engage in name-calling. Also, I have enough to keep me busy without taking on the futile effort of trying to convince anyone else to adopt my way of thinking. I'm constantly perplexed as to why people can't just accept other people for who they are rather than pick each other apart over differences.
Our culture is very determined to categorize people and slap a label on them. As for the rural area in which I live, we have 2 categories: People that fit in and people that don't. There are a whole lot of us who love to rake the misfits over the coals. It seems an astonishing number of people from a background similar to mine take the position that anyone who is "different" is also "wrong" by default. I'm slightly curious whether this is the case everywhere, but I suspect it depends upon how much and for how long a given geographical area has been exposed to "different."
I feel lucky to have grown up in a beautiful rural setting. I see trees, hills, wildflowers, farm fields, and the unobstructed sky every single day. I can be driving on a rarely-used gravel road within two minutes of leaving my driveway. Heck, I HAVE a driveway! It recently occurred to me that if a person lives in a downtown area of a huge bustling city, he or she rarely sees grass in the course of a normal day. That person probably only sees the same four or five trees most of the time and probably doesn't get to see a very large patch of sky. Where I live, most folks can't even imagine not being surrounded by nature.
Obviously, however, metropolitan living has other advantages, such as easy accessibility to goods & services. It also provides opportunities to experience a wide variety of "different" people, cultures, religions, and lifestyles. This truth, in my opinion, makes the city folk generally more accepting and therefore perhaps less judgmental. It's a trade-off.
I have not been a regular church-goer since around the fall of 2013. When I gave that up, it wasn't for the superficial reasons that others probably assumed. It went way deeper than that. I started feeling a judgmental atmosphere coming from just a couple of other members. It was by no means intentional or malicious, and it was not even directed toward me. I just can't handle the way things like that make me feel. I'm way too sensitive and empathetic and it only serves to make me uncomfortable and anxious. So I bailed out. It's just easier for me to do my thinking on my own and disengage from group activities as a general rule.
After that is when I started really noticing how we fall into belief patterns based on where we live and with whom we surround ourselves. And really, almost every shred is something devised by other people. There's absolutely no divine directive guiding the majority of these prescribed worship practices. Some things are just downright silly and likely invented by a guy 300 years ago just so he could feel like he had control of his congregation. From there, people just mindlessly adopted these practices and successors have continued them for generations. All those years and not one person has seen fit to question the origins or whether they are of any real value to their faith! How much thought and care are really being put into it if entire congregations are just going through the same motions week after week? Just seems a bit insincere to follow a script of motions to go through every Sunday. That's not what's going to bust any of us through the pearly gates.
Those are my tidbits of truth for today.