This is more introspection than anything else. This past week I decided to take a break from writing on Facebook. Instead, I am only encouraging others through 'likes', 'favoriting', 'plusing', 'high-fives', 'recommends' and emoticons. Even though I'm only a few days into this, I can already say that this changes the way I look at things. This makes me think about my own motivations and why I write what I write, and do what I do.
Now you have to understand. My heritage, for some reason, is one of those families which is super-sensitive. I don't really know how to describe it because I don't see it often except with my own relatives.
Five years ago I had a website which was receiving 3 million unique visitors a month. I felt tremendously fortunate to own this website, and I was trying to use it to do as much good in the World as I could figure out how.
This website was making lots of money. So much money I could afford to take my family anywhere we wanted to go, and experience things that most others only dreamed about. One problem though: I had high blood pressure. This was probably another genetic predisposition.
The high blood pressure meant that I couldn't buy health insurance, not at any price. It seemed that free-market conditions meant that I was not acceptable as a customer. This kept me up at night. As much money as I was earning, I still couldn't afford a heart attack or any other major health problem. Anything like this would bankrupt my family, and I was acutely aware of this.
Then came the national elections of 2008. People which I loved and trusted went berserk! I voted my conscience. I voted for the person which I thought would do for my country what I felt like needed to be done. And he won.
Then all hell broke loose. I remember my employees attending the first of the Tea Party rallies to protest the President raising taxes, even though I saw their taxes go down (I did sign their paychecks, after all.) There were many other things that I saw being stated around me that were untrue, and it was my trusted friends repeating the untruths.
I guess it's a flaw of mine, but I get personally offended at this. Aren't we all committed to the truth? Aren't we all looking for the truth? The last I saw was that there's still nearly a quarter of all Americans who believe that President Obama raised taxes when he first became President, when he actually lowered taxes.
Then the debate about universal health care started. Nearly all first-world countries consider some level of universal health care a basic human right, but my (Christian) friends were convinced that this was instead evil.
I still don't fully understand this. I remember reading the words of one of the users on my website where she stated that she opposed universal health care because her husband, who gets to choose from 5 health care policies at his job, would only get to choose from 3 if 'Obamacare' was passed. At the time, I was worried about my own family and what would happen to them if I had a major health problem without health insurance. Believe me, this makes me want to cuss, but I don't know any swear words to do it justice. I cannot imagine a world where such a person could be considered a Christian where loving one's neighbor as one's self is supposed to be the Second Greatest Commandment. At the same time, nearly of the Christians I know oppose universal healthcare.
Let make make something clear: If you oppose healthcare for the sick because they don't have enough money to pay for it? There's not a chance in Hell that I could ever consider you a follower of Christ, or any kind of person who is even remotely Christian. (Try to use the Bible to prove me wrong, you can't do it.) If you oppose healthcare for the sick, I can't even imagine you are a decent person, religious or otherwise.
Fast forward a few years and things have only gotten more polarized. My writers' website has been decimated by Google's change of values, and Jean and I have had to get 'real' jobs. Fortunately our new jobs offer good benefits, and we now receive health care insurance. The problem is, I'm still surrounded by people who don't seem to value truth.
We still get articles which state, "I don't know if this is true, but just in case it is..." 100% of the time these articles have been written by people who claim to be Christians, people who claim to have a personal relationship with 'The Truth.' I know I've over-reacted to these articles, but for the life of me I don't know how else I could react. Time and time again they have been shown to be false, but I never, ever, see a retraction. "Obama is trying to take away our guns." "Obama wants to put Christians in concentration camps." "Obama wants to arm our enemies." "Obama wants to kill babies." Yet there is not a shred of real evidence of any of this. How should a conscientious person who is committed to truth react to such writing?
We still get articles from people promoting the Straight and Narrow, claiming that sinners take the opposing path as the easy way path to follow. I can assure you it's harder in America to be an Atheist than a Christian. Christianity is the norm, and non-Christianity will get your car keyed. When is the last time there was a President who wasn't Christian? Oh yeah, I hear the current man in the White House isn't a Christian even though he says he believes the right things. Those who are the Elect know he's lying. There's just something about him that makes them not believe him. I wonder what it could be? It's almost like there's a black mark over him. Hmmmm.
Then there's the whole issue of doing good in the world. Should someone be considered good because of what they believe, or because of what they do?
Though I have always tried to help those around me, I'm surrounded by people who believe I'm evil because I don't believe the same things as they do. These same people, when they do things which intentionally hurt those around them, feel fine because they themselves believe the right things. This is so messed up.
I find it odd that many of the Christians around me now call themselves 'Libertarian.' Why this is odd to me is because the one who is considered to be the founder of modern Libertarianism, Ayn Rand, stated many times that it is impossible for a Libertarian to be Christian, because Libertarianism and Christianity are diametricly opposed. She said that Christianity requires a person to 'be one's neighbor's keeper' where Libertarianism requires one to only look after his or her own self-interest. It seems that instead, today's Christianity allows one to make mammon his or her master, which is by definition Libertarianism, and by definition, they hate God. (Please see Matt. 6:24.) If you have evidence to the contrary, show it to me, I dare you to try.
I grew up with a pastor who performed marriage counseling, and cheated on his wife with a woman he was couseling. Another of my pastors cheated on his wife with a minor. Today they both are still doing marriage counseling and counseling minors. If you are not greatly disturbed by this, I can't imagine that you have a soul, yet I have friends and family that aren't the least bit bothered by this. These men are considered good men because they believe the right things.
When I make these statements, I invariably get a response from Christians who say, "Christians are only human." You know what? Atheists are only human, too. And they don't have nearly the same rate of teenage pregnancy, incest, child-abuse, spouse-abuse, rape or divorce as those who claim to be Christian. Go figure.
No really. If I want to be a moral person, one who makes the World a better place for those around me today and for future generations, I absolutely can't be a Christian. Those who have ears to hear would easily understand this.
You may have detected a bit of bitterness in my tone. Hell yes, I'm upset. I've spent the vast majority of my life believing that which has been proven to be false. I've wasted my time with people with whom I've tried to do good, when they had no intention of doing good. I have been tolerant of people who won't tolerate me nor the people whom I love. I have been a fool, but I am committed to be no one's fool anymore.
This is what's happened to that guy named 'Bruce.'