Agnostic Humanist In The South, Politics

On Examining Beliefs That Define You.

I have been thinking a lot about the Republicans who are questioning their politics in the age of Tr*mp. Over the last 4 years of conversations I’ve had with Republicans as we debate things happening under this administration I have found there are two types of paths my opposition takes. There the, “Uggg…maybe she’s right…this is disorienting,” and there’s the, “She can’t be right, I need to find a good argument that proves that,” path.

The reason why I’ve been thinking about this a lot is that those two paths were often the choices I too had to make in the years where I was searching for a church/religion. It all started in high school when I really started questioning the dogma in the Catholic church. I remember talking to Dad about how irritated I was with the church’s attitude towards divorce and my Dad just saying, “A lot of people don’t agree with that, but they just put that to the side for the sake of the things that are worth believing in.”

I have found that some people will defend their politics like they defend their religion. It’s something that defines them and so they will be right no matter what. But with religion, there’s an element that you can’t prove because you tend to have to resort to some sort of religious text rooted in something that can’t be proven. There’s an element of FAITH that is required in religion.

But this is NOT required in politics. And so we have this continued debate about facts and evidence and so people like me engage with links and research but in the end…if someone is defending their politics like they would defend their religion…as something that MUST be defended at all costs because it’s their identity…I’m never going to win the debate.

Let’s use the debate around the confederate statues or the confederate flag as an example. There are hundreds of historians (Black and non-Black) who go on record in their careers are writers and researchers and teachers…with their proof of the confederacy being about slavery. They’ll use the articles of secession or letters written from confederate leaders – and yet, those who support those monuments and flags will find the much smaller group of historians who say otherwise. You can interview 1,000 Black Americans and 950 will tell you that they find all of that hurtful and offensive and yet, the confederate apologist will use the 50 who don’t care, or who don’t have a problem with it, as their support. They are holding on to their beliefs like it’s their identity and will grasp onto whatever minor evidence they can in an argument.

The people I’m thinking about a lot lately are the people who hesitate in that argument when they read this speech from the VP of the Confederate States where he says, “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” I’m thinking about the people who don’t look to defend that and instead say…Hmmm….maybe I need to rethink my stance.

I’m thinking about them because that was me during my years search for a Church and a religion and a spiritual framework for my life. I was not someone who defending my FAITH to the core because there was always a part of me with doubt so I would switch churches, or religions. I would find a church that accepted gay people or a religion that didn’t believe in Hell. I just kept questioning each structure until one day it finally hit me: WAIT. I DON’T HAVE TO HAVE ANY RELIGION.

I think about that with struggling Republicans over the last 4 years as they try to find threads to grasp onto but who are constantly letting go as they see so much disconnect between what they think is important versus what they’re party is standing for in any moment. I want to look to each of them and say: Your political party is not a religion you have to have Faith in. And also? It doesn’t have to define you.

I try to never call myself a Democrat because I don’t trust any political organization of that size to always speak for me. I learned this when I finally gave up on religion. I speak for myself now, both morally and politically. Its just that – since I was old enough to vote – the Democrat always falls closest in line to the things I believe in. I look at Presidential elections like choose one of two buses. There’s only two buses leaving the station, which one gets me closest to where I want to go. And so far? It’s always the Democrat.

I had to define my morals outside religion just like I had to define my politics outside a party. And yet…when I really dig under defined religious dogmas or political platforms I find so many of them overlap. I believe in being kind and having empathy, not because I fear what happens in an afterlife, but because it makes the world better. I believe that there should not be such a huge income gap between the richest and the poorest among us. I believe that food, lodging and healthcare is a human RIGHT, not a privilege, and those of us with extra should provide for those with less. I believe that gender and sexuality exist on spectrums and it’s not up to a Church or a governing body to define that for anyone. I believe everyone on that spectrum should be treated equally and that none of them are sinners. I believe this country was founded on White supremacy and the racist systems that were built to hold it up still exist today.

I guess I’m just writing this to point out that some of us grow up thinking we have to define ourselves with labels: Catholic, Straight, Democrat, Boy, Republican, Christian…but life is so much better if we dig under those labels and find truths outside of labels.

This is why I keep a sign in my yard with my beliefs, not my political party. Now…I’m going to get a Biden sign if I can just because there’s 100 Trump signs in my neighborhood and I need to show I’m not with them, but the sign I up up first was the one that stated my BELIEFS, not my party.

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