No. of Recommendations: 125
I have always been one of those people that try to understand others, and help others understand. I've study religion since I was about 11, when I convinced Mom to get me an adult Library card and stop making me go to that awful church they were attending.

I've gone with Jewish friends to Schul, and with Muslim friends for their afternoon prayers. I've gone to the church of every Christian denomination I could find in my reach, including Mormon, Catholic, Baptist, Southern Baptist (Yes, there IS a difference), Protestant, Lutheran, etc. etc. I've devoured books at an alarming rate sometimes, soaking up all I could about religion and philosophy, which have some striking similarities of thoughts at moments, and at other times try to explain each other.

I've read the Bible and the Koran and the Torah, and have members of that faith help me through them.

I lunch with a Rabbi.

Through this, I have come to the conclusion that there is a higher being, and it is called Fate by some and God by others. I just believe there is something out there greater than us, whatever it's called, and that all I can do with my life is try to lead a good one. I don't kill anyone, I try to be curteous to others, I learn as much as I can and I abide by every law but the speed limit.

I also concluded that what is most important isn't the individual religions, but that we are all worshiping the same being...just call her/him/it by different names, or worship it in a plural fashion and treat it as separate entities with different needs/rules, or abide by rules and regulations meant to bring you closer to that being. It's all the same, and we should be tolerant of that.

When I was 16, and had just started dating the person who is now my Hubby, we went to the Plaza lighting here in KC on Thanksgiving with his brother, and his brother's boyfriend, and his mom and her girlfriend. That's right folks, both are gay; Hubby dear and his sis are not.

Anywho, we were walking along, and a person was standing on one of the corners, handing out pamphlets about the Christian faith as his particular denomination saw it (can't remember which one). We were on the other side of the street, blocked (we thought) from his view by the other 12K people there that night, we he cried out "Sinners!" and made a beeline for us, having spotted by BIL and his boyfriend holding hands.

He screeched, and we simply walked on, trying to ignore him. He came running up to us, waving the pamphlets and his arms calling us sinners and blasphemers (note: hubby and I are breeders, so we still aren't sure what he was yelling at us for, maybe guilt by association?). We tried to step around him, he wouldn't let us go. We turned around and walked the other way, not saying a word, and he followed us up the street, ranting and raving the entire time. It was like Moses parting the water...the crowd was splitting before us.

My MIL and BIL and their dates all were very calm. They simply kept walking in silence, tears streaming down their faces, until the man left us and we were at our cars.

That night, ladies and gentlemen, I knew what the higher being above us had in store for me...educate others about others! That's right, simply hand others the information, ask them rhetorical questions about their own beliefs, and then walk away, perhaps taking more time with some and less with others. I was called on, as a purpose in life, to try and help others around me at least question their own beliefs: not change them neccessarily, but at least question why they beleive them. Are they simply following what others have said? Have they reached a conclusion they are happy with, or are they struggling with their own faith?

I knew starting out with this that I would attain several labels along the way, my favorite so far being n-g-r lover. Lovely little word, that one. Especially since I've never dated a black person in my life: I attained it because I stated there is discrimination against African Americans in this country. What I found interesting about this definition, however, is the term "racist" I was given the next day, when addressing the topic of affirmative action. I still laugh at the juxtposition of the two.

I try not to force my opinion on others, but I have been guilty of it at times. I usually wait for a comment from others, then begin. Sometimes, like this post, I must make my position clear for my own sanity.

I have entered several battles on this board about tolerance of others, the most recent one being about homosexuals. For the record: I don't give a rat's behind what people do with who, how they do it or why. As long as all the people involved are of consenting age, let them have at it.

What I do care about is people calling the ones I love and consider family sinners. Sure, BIL has had his issues, but he is generally a good person. I've certainly met worse.

MIL is one of the strongest women I've ever known. She raised those three kids on her own, after leaving an abusive marriage. She's risen to a high position in a bank, without a degree, and has her own home, a car that's paid for and a long-term relationship with a woman I consider a dear friend.

Our friend Samantha, a tall red-headed police officer, is homosexual as well. She plays in a band, is in her city's color gaurd, and is a Big Sister. She is the godmother of our future children, and has the greatest smile, the best laugh and a heart of gold. Her only vice is frozen custard, to which she introduces all her friends. She is currently not in a relationship, so is devoting all her time to getting extra training...she's hoping to make the SWAT team next year.

Julie, who I work with, is the most competent person here. She has extraordinary skills and knowledge, and has helped me out of a few jams. Her partner is in Law school at the moment, and after she finishes, they are thinking of children.

All of these people aren't sinners to me. They are simply people. They love other people, end of story. I know that this isn't the view that others hold; I was raised in the Southern Baptist church, so I know the opposing view. The 700 club was on every morning in our home, and we went to a private school, complete with a morning pledge of allegiance to the American, Texan and Christian flags. I still haven't figured that last one out.

So, I attempted in these discussions with others to express that view: that I understand what they believe, I only want them to look at other beliefs as well. They don't have to change thier ways, only expose themselves to other viewpoints. By learning what others think, I hope they will tolerate others; acceptance isn't neccessary. I'm not sure if I got that across, but I hope this clears up any misunderstandings.

I know that I've lost the battle with a few of those on the board, but I haven't given up the war yet. For now, I will try to bow out of any of these type of discussions, at least for a little while. The dynamic of this board is one I wasn't expecting...I must take a step back and rethink my strategy a bit.


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