“Ain’t many guys travel around together,” he mused. “I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”
(“Slim”, from the novel “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck.)
Last night, I lost a friend. No, this friend didn’t pass on to the great beyond, (despite suffering from serious health issues) nor did I misplace them. Quite the contrary, this person dropped me as a friend, quicker than dropping a fire-heated stone. “Over what?” you might ask. The answer unfortunately, is religious perspective and how it relates to Friday’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut.
You see, many people are still in a state of shock over the shooting, and that’s understandable. Out of that shock, many are starting to look for someone or something to place blame in / on. Some, including this friend of mine, are placing the blame on the declining role of religion in modern society. In an effort to express this assertion, she posted the following text graphic to her Facebook wall;
Immediately after she posted this, I responded with the following question; “”Godless society”? Are we really going there again?” No sooner had the screen refreshed a second time, then her post was gone…all of her posts were gone from the newsfeed. My friend…had “unfriended” me.
At this point, please allow me to clarify a few things. First, this friend is someone that I’ve known for over twenty years, dating back to my time in high school. I always thought of her as being pretty level-headed and reasonable. Second, regarding the text graphic on the left, I agree with the assertion that if someone wants to commit harmful acts, they will find a means to do so which doesn’t necessarily involve firearms. But I digress…
Immediately following the “unfriending”, I sent her e-mail, asking her “what gives?” A second message followed, in which I expressed the following sentiments;
“If I placed you in a position where you felt you had to choose between our friendship and your faith, and you chose your faith…I can’t fault you for that. I won’t lie and say I’m not hurt by this, but what ev.”
She responded, accusing me of…let me reread the reply and make sure I get this right, “…bashing my Christianity.” I replied in turn, assuring her that it was not my intent to do so, and that I was simply positing an interrogative statement. I also stated that I supported her rights of free speech and religion, as guaranteed by our constitution. I wound the whole thing up with the following thought;
“If you want to burn bridges with everyone who disagrees with you, I can’t stop you. All I know is that if I did that, my world would become a very lonely place, wicked quick.”
I apologised for having troubled her. I also posted to my own wall, a counter-assertion graphic, the same one presented at the top of this article. She in turn…blocked me.
“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.”
(Luke 12:51, KJV)
My immediate (gut) reaction was to blame Christianity, and religion on the whole for the loss of this friendship. The divisiveness of religion can most assuredly be a real pain in the arse, and has been since the advent of the institution. Then however, I started thinking. If I blame religion for this friend dumping me, then I am no better than those who blame society for the actions of one person. It would be yet another in a long litany of pots calling kettles black, wouldn’t it?
As I’ve stated previously within the hundred-or-so entries here at The Cybersattva weblog, I have faith. I believe in God, Christ and the Trinity. I have faith that basic truths regarding the nature and purpose of our existence here on this ball of dirt, can be found in the Bible. I also believe in not foisting my faith off on others, favoring instead the freedom of each person to choose their own way in life. In addition, I believe that each person is, and should be held, accountable for their own actions and statements. As for Friday’s tragedy, I hold the shooter accountable, not some nebulous concept of a “Godless society”. Likewise, I’m hurt by my friend’s actions in dumping the friendship, simply due to her own beliefs and an overactive sense of persecution. It saddens me, more than anything else, that so many people of faith these days insist on wearing the “victim here!” shirt. (Then again, the constant shaming and ridicule by some of the atheistic factions of society can’t be helping that situation either, can it?)
What it boils down to is this; we’re all living in the same reality, the same society and the same timespace. We each must deal with the things that we are dealt in our own way, and we must be accountable as individuals for the ways in which we interact with the world around us, as well as those in it. They are our fellow travelers here on spaceship Earth.
“Be excellent to each other.”
(Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure)