Jul 05 2005

I’ve been doing some thinking about kids and religion. It’s a tough topic for me. I was not raised to be religious- my parents sort of let us have a free for all with that subject- and I was thrown out of the episcopalian church when I was 5 and became a die-hard atheist by age 8. That means that I don’t really have an ideology with traditions and stories and crap already built in. So what’s an atheist to do? How do I answer questions my son is sure to come up with so that he feels like he can make his own decisions? Part of why I dislike organized religion is that people get guilted into following whatever their parents believe and they are never taught to question it. I don’t want to do that. I won’t be thrilled if my son decides to believe in god, but I want him to be a free thinker (and I will always love him). But what do I do? Yeah, sure, I can say “well some people think this but other people think this other opposite thing” which only works until he asks what his daddy and I think. I don’t want to lie. These questions are bound to come up before I can hand him a book and say figure it out for yourself and then we’ll talk. Religious people must have it so easy.

I’ve also been remembering one of my favorite stories about my Dad. When I was about 10 years old I decided to cut my hair really short. Since I was too young to have boobs or hips or anything, I ended up looking like an effeminate boy most of the time, something which caused my little pre-teen heart and psyche great pain. One day, my parents had gone out and left me home alone (we lived in a very safe, quiet neighborhood kind of out in the country). I heard a car pull up in the drive and figured it was either Mom or Dad and went outside to greet them. It wasn’t. Instead, it was two bible thumpers. The first thing that was said to me when they walked up the stairs was “Hello YOUNG MAN, is your father home?” I stared at him for a second and then said “I’m a girl.” The old man did a double take and the young man looked ashamed. The old man then launched into a sermon about how women shouldn’t cut their hair and that it was an offense to god and I should be ashamed and never do it again. This lasted a good 10-15 minutes. I stood dumbfounded the whole time (the young man still looked ashamed). I finally found my voice again and told them that my parents weren’t home and that I had things to do. They loaded my arms up with literature and the old man chastized me once more before they hopped into their car and took off. Not long after, my father came home and found me huddled on the living room couch sobbing my eyes out. He asked me what was wrong and, once I managed to calm down, I told him everything that had happened. I have never seen my father so upset in my whole life as I saw him get that day. He was purple with rage. I happened to look outside and see the two guys down at our neighbors house. I told my Dad. He stomped out of the house and across the field and down the hill. Just then my Mom got home and I gave her the quick run through. We stood on top of the hill together and watched as my Dad ripped into those two guys. I could have sworn that he was going to kill them (my Dad is a VERY intimidating guy at the best of times). They were leaning backward and he was towering over them. It was like a cartoon. He ended by reaching into the open backseat window of their car and pulling out as much of their literature as he could reach and ripping it apart and throwing it around. All Mom and I could do was cling to each other and giggle nervously. All the two guys could do was stare. Dad then turned on his heel and stomped back up the hill and through the field and into our house. It was wonderful. Not only did I get my revenge on those men for making me feel horrible but I also didn’t care what they had said anymore. My Daddy loved me. Enough to fight.

Jul 05 2005

Apparently I am only 32% american. Here is what the test results said:

America: You don’t love it or want to leave it.
But you wouldn’t mind giving it an extreme make over.
On the 4th of July, you’ll fly a freak flag instead…
And give Uncle Sam a sucker punch!

I’d say that’s not far off. This country has major problems and sometimes makes me want to throw up my hands in disgust and leave, but for the most part I think it’s easier to change from the inside. I’m also not one of those who thinks that america is horrible and that third world countries have it right. Or native americans. America can’t be all bad. Yes, we have a crack-pot for a president and we are WAY too invested in our religious views, but at least we have pretty good freedoms, religious and other (though I still wouldn’t be able to successfully run for political office). Yes, homosexual couples can’t yet marry (unlike Spain- how weird is it that a catholic country has legalized it before us?!) but at least they aren’t killed for living the life they choose (usually). Yes, for some reason many people in this country protest stem cell research, but look at all the wonderful things we have done with GMOs like providing fortified rice to starving countries (who refused to use it because of idiot propaganda). Yes, we have tons of cars and use loads of gasoline, but we do have some of the best emissions standards in the world and we are passing legislation for alternative fuels (a little late but…). America is a mixed bag at best but I have been trying to find some of the positive things in the muck (and there is A LOT of muck), some things we can pin our hopes on. I expect to be disappointed often, but to stop looking and criticizing and to give up hope is to give up on a country that has a lot of promise. We could be a major world influence for positive change. There are good americans out there (and I don’t necessarily mean patriots) with good ideas. It’s a shame they’re all too smart to want to get into politics. I’m scared to raise my son as an american but can anybody tell me about a better or safer place? Truly? (And don’t say Canada unless you’ve lived there and you know first hand.)

And I hate fireworks.