An individual who uses violence, terror, and intimidation to achieve a result.
I do not like religion. I am a Pantheist. I believe in matter and energy, things that cannot be argued. They exist, and while neither can be created or destroyed, they can, in fact, be transformed. What they are “transformed” into after our lives cease is the million-dollar question–a question for which lots of people think they have the answer and every religion claims to know. The problem is, saying something is true, and even having all the faith in the world that it is, does not make it so.
I also believe in causality and reason, that our actions have an impact on others. If I tell my husband to fuck off when he wakes up in the morning (which I very well might), it will no doubt have some sort of impact on his day. Whether we like it or not, we are all intertwined, tangled, chaotic lumps of mass.
Religion is the exact opposite of reason. It’s like being a child and asking your parent why something “is” and being told, “Because I said so.” It’s such a bullshit, cop-out response and hardly a viable answer. My mother rarely played that card. She almost always gave legitimate answers to my questions, but on the rare occasion that I got the “Because I said so” response, I felt cheated and dissatisfied.
As far as I can see, religion is just another tool that we use to further separate ourselves from each other. “I am Catholic,” “I am Protestant,” “I am Jewish,” “I am Muslim,” are all declarations that disconnect us from fellow human beings. I find that being undefined by certain social constructs allows me to be more empathetic towards other people. I have no dog (or god) in this fight. I have no team besides the human one.
I feel the same way about nationalism. Do I recognize how fortunate I am to have been born here in the U.S. as opposed to most other places around the world? Of course I do. But why would I be proud of myself for something I literally had zero control over? It seems silly to me. My grandparents came from Yugoslavia, Germany, and Italy. Had they come from Syria, Iraq, or Pakistan, surely my life would have been different; but all of our lives are just cosmic rolls of the dice.
The majority of people in this world stay in the religion they are born into, even if they don’t fully practice it. It’s just another game of chance and nothing more. My parents chose not to baptize me even though they had both been brought up Catholic. At some point, they recognized the importance of not indoctrinating me in the way that their parents had indoctrinated them. I did not understand this when I was younger and all of my friends had a religion, but I fully appreciate it now that I am an adult.
I often wonder why people feel they need to belong to such groups when all they seem to do is cause heartbreak and division. When you start taking on a broader worldview rather than a narrow, “my world” one, perceptions of events and life in general really begin to shift. I prefer to judge people on actions rather than labels, and at this point in time I am way more afraid of the self-proclaimed “Christians” taking up space on my FaceBook timeline than anyone else.
The fact that so many “Christian” Americans are coming out to openly support a guy like Donald Trump is frightening. Trump is proving to be the radicalization of an already bad Republican Party. He is an enemy of everything that is truly American, with absolutely zero understanding of the Constitution. Trump is the essence of ignorance and hate, all wrapped up into one really bad haircut.
So far during his campaign, he has come out against free speech, privacy, and freedom of religion, and we haven’t even gotten to the primaries yet. These things are cornerstones of what it means to be an American, for fuck’s sake. People should be petrified of Donald Trump and running as far away from his message as possible, yet they flock to this deranged man, this orange-skinned, ignorant, fascist pig, like he is the next American savior.
In short, if you support Donald Trump, please do some solid soul-searching and try to pinpoint just where things went wrong in your life. America will thank you, and all of humanity will be the better for it, I promise. While so many collectives have the potential to do wonderful things, more often than not (as in Trump’s case) they have the capacity to do irreversible damage.
As Americans, we all need to take ownership of our government’s actions around the world. They are our elected officials. They’re supposed to represent us. When a drone strike kills a wedding party, we shoulder that responsibility. In the end, it is we who will reap the repercussions.
Horrific things are happening everywhere on an almost daily basis–school shootings, church shootings, movie theater shootings, bombings, dronings, and oppression worldwide–and just when one horrific event leaves the headlines, another is soon to pop into its place. The Paris attacks were only a little over a week ago, Mali a few days ago, and, as I write this, Brussels is under threat. We are standing at the precipice of great change–how we choose to react to these events is our choice and will dictate our future.
We can no longer selectively care about the events that happen in the world or the people they happen to. The Paris attack was horrific, but it was not the only attack that took place that week. I am also saddened by the bombings in Beirut, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon, etc.
Our solution always seems to be to drop more bombs, put more boots on the ground, and kill more innocent civilians. When are we going to learn that we are feeding the cycle of violence? I have been asked on more than one occasion what my solution would be. I think it starts with looking in the mirror and facing our history, head on and honestly. I believe that in order to look forward, we must look back.
The idea that we are fighting for democracy is a fairytale we have been told for far too long. We must no longer accept that answer. Until we can examine how we got here, we will never break the cycle.
Recently, I had a lot of anxiety about heading into Times Square after the latest threats against NYC. The last few weeks (in particular) have shown us what happens when people act on fear. All logic goes out the window, and we turn our backs on those who need us the most.
Terrible things have happened in this world, and will continue to happen, everyday. To me, what is worse than allowing fear to prevent us from living our lives is allowing fear to prevent us from living our lives as kind, compassionate human beings. Nobody deserves to go to a concert in Paris or a wedding in Yemen, only to be murdered. But until we recognize the terrorist in ourselves, we will never be free from the terrorist abroad.
Author: Cynthia Tarana is a heavily tattooed Ex-Con with no college education and very bad punctuation. She currently lives on Long Island, NY where she pays extremely high taxes, likes to drink, rage against the machine and shop at the GAP.
Contact Cynthia at firstname.lastname@example.org
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