WHAT I DON’T BELIEVE
I have spent the last few months writing a book about intolerance and bullying. I have seen a lot of both during my lifetime, and most of it is from people who don’t know what they believe. Even the most intelligent among us change their core beliefs during their lifetime. Democrats become Republicans or the other way around. Marriages might not last a lifetime, and a career change is not beyond the realm of possibility.
I was halfway through this article when I realized I was going to have to go all the way back to the title and start again. Originally, the title was ‘What I Believe,’ but as I continued to work on it, I realized I was working on the problem from the wrong direction. It is very difficult to explain what you believe because many readers will decide what you meant rather than what you said. The Beatles complained once because there were too many of their fans who tried to find deep meaning in their songs. Their response to this was an explanation that the songs didn’t mean anything important. The words were mostly chosen because they could be rhymed and set to music.
There are a surprising number of people in the world who are negative, and most of them are on Facebook, or it least it seems that way. In the early 1700s a writer named Voltaire made the statement, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This statement sums up my attitude toward those who sow hate, intolerance, and discord. I don’t like statements that are overly negative to appear on my Facebook news feed, but I grant you the right to say them. I seldom remove a post of this nature unless it is particularly loathsome. Voltaire was one of the first to campaign for freedom of religion and freedom of expression. My strongest beliefs are bound up in Voltaire’s two statements.
I am not gay, transgender, or bisexual, but I want everyone to have the freedom to define their sexuality. What they believe or the way they live isn’t any of my business. I might not agree with you on politics, but I want you to have the right to vote for the candidate of your choice without undue pressure by those who disagree. As long as your behavior doesn’t interfere with the freedom of another, I want you to decide what beliefs will guide you through life even if it is unpopular.
I am opposed to bullying, oppression, and the quick putdown that seems to be so popular today. A man accused of a double murder made the statement, “I am so very sorry.” Sorry doesn’t cut it when irrevocable damage has already been done. Are your preferences really so important that you need to make others uncomfortable in order to express them? I received an email from a friend on the far side of the world after he read the first three chapters of Blindsided. “You’ve really put your foot in it this time,” he observed thinking of the controversy that might ensue from what is a nothing more than a Young Adult novel. Well, maybe not. I am not the guy you would select to sing lullabies to your babies or to read them a bedtime story. The world is full of harsh realities and I’m a big boy. Bullying, harassment, or the latest version of cruelty isn’t the answer to the ills of society. There is a better way, and it leads upward. Thank you for reading and God bless.