Yesterday I took the bus to the gym. You might remember I took this picture yesterday.
The bus ride was a reminder that I live in a diverse city, and that’s why I like it here. Chicago is no New York City, but we have a lot of what they have.
On the bus, there were Muslims, Jews, probably some Christians and at least one atheist. There were men in suits, and there was a woman in a wheel chair. There were black children and white babies. There were young pretty girls, and there were old, hunched over women. There was a man the size of a small baseball stadium and there were skinny people, too.
In my head, I said to myself, “See, I have no problem with all these people and their myriad of beliefs and ideas about life. We can ride this bus in harmony.” And then I remembered I have this blog, and thought about how hypocritical I am.
So I revised my thought statement. I said, “I have no problem with any of these people, but yes, I have a problem with the things these people believe.” For a few minutes, I tried to reconcile that statement within a framework of humanism or gratefulness for the diversity of people. I found myself a little stressed out about it.
It’s no wonder that cities tend to be liberal and non-large cities (technical term) tend to me conservative. When you’re faced with diversity, your humanistic side comes forward. And humanism is a liberal club, and we don’t want conservatives in our exclusive liberal club.
We’re not giving you the password, so stop asking.
No seriously, the internet is a game changer. It’s no mystery. The Internet is making the world a large city, and it’s becoming more difficult to not empathize with the idea of diversity. I have regular readers who I know have been affected by international diversity thanks to their travels and the internet, and it makes me proud.
But then I looked down at facebook on my iPhone, and I saw this update:
I have 400 and some “friends”, and I get a lot of these updates. And I also get atheist updates. It is a little weird to go from videos of people dancing for Jesus to an atheist friend saying, “We need a day to remember all the people tortured, raped, abused & killed in the name of religion throughout history. #atheism.”
I get all types on my wall. And I don’t mind one bit. I personally don’t think it’s the avenue I want to ride down for expressing my disbelief. I find it just as uncomfortable to read about Jesus or atheism on facebook as a public forum as I would if you walked up to me on the street and said, “Let me tell you about Jesus.” There’s a time and a place for the discussion, and ramrodding someone on facebook isn’t my idea of the right time.
Retiring from Generations of Belief
Believe it or not, it hurts think there is a group of people who will retire the beliefs of generations of their families. But it makes too much sense not to shed ourselves of the beliefs of our fathers and mothers for the open mindedness of cultural awareness.
My point about the diversity on the bus is that there are so many different ways to believe. How can anyone tell another person that their thoughts and beliefs are invalid? See this video from Nickelodeon to learn more about cultural awareness for kids.
Think about it. If you believe in Islam, then the guy sitting next to you with a yarmulke is clearly believing the wrong thing. Either that, or you must believe that it’s okay for someone else to believe another way and that you can get along.
Or you look at that person and think you’re superior, because you have been convinced by your beliefs that you’re right.
And I’ve been convinced by my lack of beliefs that I’m right.
I can’t get into a cab with a man wearing muslim garb without some form of remembrance for 9/11, but if I walked around in fear, I would implode in Chicago, New York or really any place in the world. We are surrounded by diversity whether you like it or not. Freedom of belief or from belief is why this country is great. I don’t understand why some Christians think freedom only includes freedom to believe in some form of the Christian god. What kind of freedom is that? The freedom to be not free?
One or two last thoughts
My final thought that I wanted to leave you with is this, and I’m not the first person to think of it or ask it. But if someone walked up to you today, and after all the experience and knowledge you’ve had about the world, and they told you about Jesus for the first time ever, would you believe the story? If they told you a man was born of a virgin, performed miracles, died and rose again, and you never heard that before, you would or wouldn’t believe it? Why is it that when I tell you about Islam and Muhammad that you don’t believe that story that people are willing to go their whole life believing?
There’s got to be a point when Christians think about the story they believe and why they don’t believe one of the umpteen other stories. Christians say, “It would take more faith to be an atheist.” But would it take more faith to be a muslim, or hindu, or Catholic Christian, or Jew?
Maybe atheism is just an indication of indecision. When faced with all the options, I can’t make a religious decision, so I go with nothing.
What’s your excuse?