1/10/2016 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S ~
You'd think that being yourself would be a simple thing to do. You'd expect others would gracefully accept you as yourself. You're not insane, bossy, or rude, and you're harmless. But sometimes you experience not some straight-ahead accommodation, but, as if you are a football player, people ready to tackle you at every move you make. If you're perceived as being "different” from the rest, or become so, be ready for opposition. If you become very true to yourself, this really throws others off psychologically. Watch out if you're in a religion-saturated culture and drop out!
Sometimes you can be unfriended by being yourself. I remember an article about how some wives’ perceptions of their husbands changed over the course of their marriage. The women were initially attracted to those men for certain qualities. What started out as attraction for their "ambition" became negative because he has "no time for me," or that they were too "type-A." Or a man's sense of humor became "annoying," or "He's not serious enough." And honesty? I can attest personally about that. My honesty was what attracted the woman who became my wife. She noticed I was the refreshingly honest guy in the "personal" ads. Now she merely tolerates this honesty whenever it applies to anybody’s religious beliefs.
Shortly after we were married, I attended a church service with her, afterwards commenting, "These people act as if they really believed those things," or another time, that her churchgoers were "telling themselves stuff." It didn't occur to me she was one of "them." I was just being honest. (And she remained true to her word before we married, that my irreligion would not be an impediment to her love.)
So, if like those husbands, your initial "merits" in time become "demerits," don't get caught off guard; it happens. (Like just before he or she asks for a divorce, when the hidden grievances come marching into battle.) Gee, you didn't do any harm, and still you get blamed for not living up to someone’s expectations.
Meeting the expectations of others reminds me of the story of a woman who went to a psychiatrist, devastated by her husband's announcement he will divorce her. The doctor asked her, "What makes you so special that someone can't reject you?" She found these words comforting. (For me too, doctor.)
You'd think people wouldn't have a problem accepting you just as you are so long as you're not dangerous. After all, you can be yourself with buddies, girlfriends, family members, who accept you just as you are. But it seems the more personal the relationship becomes though, only most things about you are accepted, not everything about you. Consider that even you don't accept everything about you. But when it comes to being so honest about rejecting beliefs, suddenly you've changed into an agent of the devil, one who has rejected virtue for immorality!
You would think when you've become the most true to yourself, others would at least try to understand why you did, that they would not automatically be opposed to it. This scares them, though it happens pretty often in this world. But believers feel they have your best interests at heart in trying to "save" you by encouraging you to pretend with them instead of being true to evidence. When it's a matter of "coming out" as LGBT or atheist or even switching religions, things get complicated fast. All of a sudden, your honesty in being yourself is unacceptable. You're the same person. More honest. You've faced the fact of, "This is who I've been all along." So what's the problem?
Well, you don't match the image they've had of you. That's show business, as they say. So maybe believers always thought you agreed with them, and maybe you did. Now you know better. Now they feel betrayed, deceived, of all things. Don't feel alone. Isn't it telling: when Dan Barker was a minister for 14 years, he had believers coming to him for advice, but when he, the same person, in all honesty became an atheist, they completely rejected him? Doesn't it tell you something that an atheist will never be permitted to read scriptures he chooses, w/o comment, of the "inerrant" words of the bible, from any pulpit?
It can't be said too many times: Religions are dead set against individuals being themselves. They preach that being oneself is being essentially bad. They do not welcome personal honesty, especially the kind of honesty that tells them the emperor is naked. Religious conformity, obedience, and pretending are obligations, and anyone is anathema who doesn't just go along with this.
Your honesty in being yourself is unacceptableChallenge the system by asking personal honest questions. (Like, shouldn't the doctrine of unconditional forgiveness be challenged? Honestly, some actions and people should not be forgiven.) Simple questions alone threaten the system. Why should you allow yourself to let others stiﬂe your right to be yourself, implying you should put up and shut up? Are you content with this when you feel like exploding from frustration, knowing from your amassed evidence all religions are bullshit and you can't handle pretending anymore? Is just "being" good enough? Is it all that complicated?
Something you might consider: Dale DeBakcsy, reviewing the book, "Faith of a Heretic," by Walter Kaufmann, writes, "We as humans are always tempted to let things be, to not speak up lest the delicate social balance be disturbed by our bad taste..." He says, "Kaufmann challenges you to judge others, rudely if need be, that they will then judge you harshly and rudely in return, allowing you to actually grow and change as a person rather than festering in mutually polite inertia. Why live if you aren't going to change yourself, and how can you change yourself if you don't challenge others to challenge you?" (Should I wear a t-shirt, "atheist. challenge me"? Oh boy!)
At ﬁrst, it appears Kaufmann is advocating face to face confrontation, but this isn't necessarily so. Writing satire, sarcasm, criticism, and asking simple questions are challenges to religious beliefs, and may have the same intended consequences. Religions would destroy especially these freedoms of speech. They understand that the pen is mightier than the sword. Because the status quo is static, it needs to have protesters to jump-start changes.
If challenging others and being yourself offends and causes friends to drop you, understand, it happens; meanwhile, you are growing and changing. Besides, who are you in being yourself and honest, that you can’t be rejected? Loss and change are commonplace in our world. We don't live in hamlets, family farms, closely monitored church centered communities anymore. Friends and relatives relocate, separate, die, and otherwise go their own ways, and you aren't the reason why. Believers who tell you that "God will always be with you" are just telling themselves stuff.
The person you will always have with you till the day you die, is yourself. So be true to yourself. It's your right.