I experienced my first prejudice the other day. Not “fat prejudice”, I experienced that all the time. You know, when you’re sitting on an airplane and you see that fat chick walking down the aisle towards you and you are praying to all 10,000 documented gods that she doesn’t sit by you. You see her grunt as she lifts her huge carry bag into the compartment over your seat. You can see her heavy, round belly peaking out of her shirt as she struggles. It is the Otis Spunkmeyer of muffin tops. You think she is a disgusting, smelly sloth who clearly does nothing all day but eat high fat, high sugar foods and now she is heading towards that center seat next to you. She’s probably going to smell bad, too. This is going to be a shitty flight. You wonder how close to the window you can actually press your body against to avoid even touch her layers of lard that may rub off on you. Yeah…I’ve seen that look on people’s faces.
This was an “idea prejudice”.
I was at a friend’s house (whom I love dearly and consider a very dear girlfriend). She is a Christian and a good one at that! She has a huge heart. I think she gets a little amazed that someone like me, who she loves, is an Atheist. She has never had an issue with my beliefs. In fact, she likes to talk about it. We both enjoy the fact that Theist /Atheist thing really doesn’t affect our friendship. I love her.
Anyway…this particular night…she had some friends over at the same time. One of the friends walked through the area we were talking. My friend stopped him to introduce him to me. He took one look at me and said, “I am sorry. I can’t speak to you or be around you. I heard you talking about being an Atheist. I am a Christian and I just can’t be around that.” He walked away. Now, granted, if I had been spewing some hate-filled, bashing of Christians I could understand his position. One of the ladies had simply asked me what I thought happened to us after we die. I said, “We die. Then our bodies decay into the earth.” because that’s what happens. I am not going to go into the “soul” because that’s probably where our ideas diverge. However, I think we can all agree: bodies decompose. We have all seen CSI: Paramus. I don’t think it was a controversial statement. BUT…his reaction really hurt my feelings. Someone just saying to me, (and I am paraphrasing here) “You are a siren, cunt who is trying to seduce me away from my God. I can’t be tempted by your magical song.” That’s what I heard. He didn’t even want to know my name. He just heard I was an Atheist, therefore, inherently an evil person. Sad.
As I drove home I started thinking about “faith”. Was his faith so strong that he didn’t even want to be around me? Or was his faith that weak? I spent a week at bible camp one summer; completely immerged in religion, prayer and fellowship. I enjoyed it. But…it didn’t change my mind. It educated me. Why was I not threatened by the Church? Why was I not terrified that listening to other people’s ideas didn’t necessarily have to sway mine. My wise Uncle Danny once told me, “My opinion is the last best argument I heard on the subject.” He is absolutely correct. Nothing the Church said was a better argument to me. I think it is because I have accepted what I can observe in the physical world as my reality. Not right or wrong. Just the last, best argument I have heard on the matter. I concluded the opposite of faith is acceptance (at least in my case).
I wished, prayed, hoped, begged to be thin, and yearned to be accepted in society. Faith that I would get thin didn’t help. I ACCEPTED the fact that I had an addiction that needed more help than I could muster. Science saved me.
I wished, prayed, hoped that my marriage would last. I finally ACCEPTED that it was irretrievably broken and started healing.
I wished, prayed, hoped that I could live in my beautiful house forever. I ACCEPTED that I don’t want to be house poor, so downsizing is the better choice.
I wished, prayed, hoped that I would find a match for me. I will be 39 in two days….and it hasn’t happened yet. I have ACCEPTED that maybe my life isn’t going to turn out the way I have imagined it for myself. That isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just different.
Faith has not been good to me. Acceptance has. The more things I am willing to accept as true, instead of wishing, praying, hoping that things will be different, the happier I have become. When you start seeing things for what they really are…it’s a powerful feeling.
When you have your head held high, it’s easier to see the obstacles in your way, and work your way around them.