As I get older, I find myself become increasingly frustrated with social politics, and my lack of ability to voice my opinion. I love having freedom of thought, speech and information, and have an incredible privilege of education. I have opinions, but I don’t often share them from fear of upsetting others. I do wish I was more outspoken about my morals. I don’t want to be a mediator for the sake of keeping the peace. I fear staying silent allows for the breeding of ignorance. So I’m making a change, writing my thoughts down for the scrutiny and criticism of the internet. These are my opinions (until I change them), and you are allowed to disagree. I will respect your opinions just the same.
- I don’t believe in a God.
When I was younger, I belonged to a choir and was an active member of the church. Technically speaking, I am a confirmed Christian. I changed my mind about religion when I was 18, just before I came to University. I think I lost faith before then, but I didn’t really understand why. Since then, I have clarified my opinions and I don’t see them changing any time soon.
It was my passion for singing that took me to choir in the first instance. I felt moved by the music I sang, the sounds that echoed round the church. When it came to praying, I felt nothing. Mostly, I felt stupid. I so desperately wanted to feel something, or someone. I felt like a bad Christian for not having a “close relationship with God.” He never spoke to me, and I found myself questioning why God was portrayed as a ‘he’ anyway. No one really KNOWS which gender God is… In the end, I felt like a fraud for being part of a community of which I did not sympathise. I think I left before I truly understood why I felt this way.
It was at my Auntie’s funeral that I felt the most confused and angry about my religion. The ceremony was performed at the crematorium. The local vicar conducted the service and said; “All those who die in the faith of Christ will go to heaven.” The Bible says: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13)…But she didn’t believe in God, she lost her faith when her husband died nearly 20 years previously. Does that mean she’s going to hell? In that moment my mind whirred, and I realised God is for those who are scared of death. If there’s hope of an afterlife, one doesn’t have to deal with the reality that we will die. In that moment I knew that while God was a wonderful idea, I could no longer identify myself as a Christian.
When I went to university, my beliefs cemented themselves through many more questions. University is a place of great diversity. There are so many religions, ethnicities, and backgrounds all united in a place of learning. My friend from Singapore is Muslim. My friend from India is Hindu. My friend from France is Catholic. My friend from Israel is Jewish. What makes one religion right and another wrong? Geographical location tends to determine which religion you follow. (Park, C. 2004) Does that mean if you are lucky enough to be born in a certain place you will go to heaven, while your friend does not? Who chooses? Who is right?
In light of everything that is happening in the world right now, I think it is futile to pray to whatever or whoever you believe in. If there is a God, they are passive, and will do nothing to help us. By all means, pray for the strength and humility you require to help people, but don’t expect anything to come from anywhere but within. Only you have the power to make a change.
In the same vane, I think it is wrong to name good or bad things that one does in the name of God. I’m all for missionaries going out trying to better the world, but the physical action comes from a person regardless of their beliefs. In the same way, killing in the name of God is still killing whichever way you look at it.
There is too much randomness, depravity, disease, disability, poverty, oppression, slavery, totalitarianism, power, extreme weather conditions, geological faults, and war for me to believe that an external being created our world. Non-belief is more comforting to me than a God who stands-by and does nothing.
I feel as if my lack of religion allows me to see the world in a way that makes me want to do everything I can to better myself; to be the best person I can be; to teach others; to listen to others; and do things that make me happy. By believing in nothing, I can welcome diversity. Being an artist, I suppose I have educated myself into a very globalised ideology of the world. I am accepting of all difference.
In my opinion, time is short, and money is plentiful in the world. I may not have lots of money, but ultimately that is my choice. for the sake of my happiness, money is not important to me.
Here I have listed a few speakers who helped me clarify my beliefs on atheism.
2. I am a feminist.
I believe in equality, but moreover I believe in justice. In my opinion, feminism, equality and justice are synonymous with one another. I believe that each person should have the same opportunities as the last person. Whether that be education, politics, salaries and beyond.
To demonstrate what I understand by the term feminism, I want to give a example of what I am not. I am not someone who believes that any one person is better than another. Granted I may not enjoy the company of every person I meet, but I don’t think any less of them as a human being, I just wouldn’t choose to spend my time with that person.
Earlier this year at my university, there was a big scandal about the soon-to-be Union President. (Young-Powell, A. & Wakefield, L. 2015) What most alarmed me about this whole scandal, to Reckless’ eventual decision to stand down, was that in the epicentre of this unacceptable behaviour was the emphasis that a man hit a woman. In the article, the Women’s Officer at the university kept stressing the sexes of the persons involved in the incident.
My standpoint is that the fact he showed violence towards another human being was unacceptable regardless of gender. I understand the people who voted for Reckless to become union president felt as if they had been deceived, and rightly so! However, the fact he was banned from the union was a direct consequence of his actions. To me, his violence from one human being to another does not make him a suitable candidate to represent the university union. In the interest of equality, the genders of the persons involved in the incident itself are irrelevant. I feel like this is almost lazy feminism of people who haven’t really grasped the concept of feminism and give the whole movement a bad name.
I don’t really fit into any feminist stereotypes, because in reality there are none. I don’t wear make-up, but it has nothing to do with my ideas about feminism, I’m just lazy. It takes enough effort to drag myself into the shower of a morning without having to paint my face on! That’s not to say I never wear make-up, I make an effort for big events, weddings, parties etc. Neither do I condemn those who choose to spend hours on their make-up. I have high admiration for those who spend aliges getting ready, I just don’t have that kind of commitment to social constructs of perceived beauty, sorry.
3. I surround myself with positivity
Over the past year or so, I have found it increasingly important to be friends with people who get the most out of their lives. As mentioned before, I appreciate that I am extremely privileged to have all the opportunities I have, but I have had to work hard to get here. As a result, I don’t need outsiders telling me I shouldn’t be doing what I am doing. More importantly, I don’t want to be around people who moan about how bored they are, and how horrible their life is. My advice? Do something about it.
I like to spend my time with people who are happy despite adversity. After all if I am right (and there is no God), we only have a few years on this planet before we leave, so we’d best make the most of it! If that means I don’t have as much money, or make choices that other people don’t agree with, so be it. I am refusing to be judged by others when they cannot make an informed opinion. Even if they do, I fail to see why it would be their business. I’m not saying I’m going to do anything stupid, but it would be my choice if I so wished.
I love my life. I love my job. I love my course. I love my friends, however near and far they are. They are a never ending source of laughter, guidance and generosity. I love reading, writing, caring, cooking, thinking, making and archery, so I do it whenever I can. I’ve never been happier. I’m lucky to have a wonderful man in my life who supports me, doesn’t judge me, and is always grateful for the things I do. I owe him so very much.
So I suppose that’s a brief summary of my beliefs. I felt like this was necessary with all the research and clarifications I have had to make recently for my masters. If you read the whole thing, thank you. I appreciate your time.
Park, C. (2004) Religion and geography. Chapter 17 in Hinnells, J. (ed) Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion. London: Routledge
Young-Powell, A. & Wakefield, L. (2015) Student union president urged to stand down after ‘slapping’ woman in face, The Guardian, [online] available at http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/mar/26/student-union-president-urged-to-stand-down-after-slapping-woman-in-face (Accessed 17/11/2015)