I feel as though I could have saved a lot of time if I had stronger family values instead of learning the lessons of life the hard way. But then again, I am thankful sometimes that I came to my own conclusions in my own way. I feel like I deviate from certain social norms that are so normal, in fact, that the question of one's decision never comes to light.
In a class, a friend of mine brought up that he was not an atheist but an agnostic. The professor replied that, "It takes a certain amount of arrogance to be an atheist," which led me to believe that no one really knows what an atheist truly practices (Which is, in essence, nothing). It isn't a fervent opposition toward the existence of a higher being, but rather the lack of caring. Most people characterize that as agnostic behavior, when agnosticism is really just the middle of the fence, always proclaiming that there is not enough evidence to prove or refute the existence of a deity.
I just wanted to clear that up for expository purposes.
I didn't have much religion pushed on me as a child, surprisingly, even though my mother is a devout catholic. My father, on the other hand, creates his own brand of Christianity as most non-devout Christians do. I believe it was their constant feud with each other that left little time to instill in me the values like religion that most parents try to preach to their children.
I remember a time in my childhood when I believed a god existed, but there were no facts to support him. I never had a bible to read. I never attended church. The idea of God seemed arbitrary to me. For a child whose first real book was an encyclopedia, a solid reason needed to exist in order to fuel the blind faith. And as I grew older, many emotionally traumatizing events caused me to count my blessings backward. The idea that God existed went out the window along with Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny. Those figures were placeholders in my life, but as I prematurely grew up, I knew that I couldn't rely on those things anymore.
I feel like I have a pretty good head on my shoulders now, though, without the assistance of organized religion, even though I support things that would make some pastors lose their cool. I strongly advocate LGBTQ lifestyles. I condone recreational drinking. I find no problem with premarital sex if both parties are smart about it. Most of these conclusions were not drawn from a rebellion against the status quo, but rather they were learned via personal experience and interaction with real human beings whose lives cross paths with these elements of existence on a regular basis.
If I were a man with morals and values, would I have been more masculine? Recently, I went through a period where I felt that my lack of masculinity was something to be ashamed of, but I realized that this notion was false. Though most boys are brought up to be manly men, I never felt the need to become the embodiment of machismo nature.
My hair has always been long. My frame became sleek and not wide. My voice has always been higher in pitch. I like art, music, and occasionally dressing in ladies' clothes. My testosterone count is normal. I am attracted to women. I grow an inordinate amount of body hair.
Biologically, I am a man. That is my sex. Gender-wise, I still believe I am a man even though I participate in emasculated behavior. I can't fix a car, but I can serenade a woman. I don't know much about football statistics, but I can build a computer from spare parts. I can't lift heavy weights, but I can stand in front of an auditorium full of people and convince them that my word is law.
I sometimes feel the need to be part of a greater whole, but when I reflect on all I have accomplished as well as the extent of my abilities, I am fine existing as an island. When I have children, I want to tell them that it is permissible to deviate from the expected roles placed on them by society. If they need to believe in a god, then that is the right choice for them.
I must say that religion was not the right choice for me, but I do miss the sense of a strong community. I miss thinking that every event has a purpose. I mostly miss the personal assurance that everything is going to be OK. I believe the core values of religion are important for society and should never be forgotten. Grow by demonstrating that these values have taught you something meaningful about life.
The capacity to coexist will yield a fruitful life. Live and let live. Journeys progress step by step, but one should avoid following the trail someone else has provided. How else are we, as a society, to discover new things if we don't take the road less traveled?
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