Category Archives: Religion

I Am Not Color Blind, Are You?

Here in the United States there are some people who believe we live in a “post racist” society.  Apparently even some of my fiends on social media believe this to be true.  It always amazes me when I see comments such as “I am not racist, but…”  or “I believe this….but”, etc. That “but” says a lot about how you really feel inside, whether you know it or not.  While explicit racism is not as common as it once was, (although in the past 8 months it has become more common), implicit racism is very common.

So then “what is implicit racism?”  Let me explain. Explicit racism is overt, obvious……using the N word, talking openly about people who are not white, or Christian, or middle class as being “less than” or not as good as the person who is doing the speaking. Shouting Nazi slogans walking down a street in Virginia. Openly being a member of the KKK. These people are open about their dislike for non whites, or homosexuals, or Jews or Muslims. It is easy to see and hear their racist beliefs and we can choose to avoid them, if we don’t want to be exposed to that bullshit.

Implicit racism is not obvious, and are usualy thoughts or stereotypes or biases we believe and act on, whether we are aware of it or not.  Such as crossing the street if we see a black man walking on our side of the street, clutching our purse a little tighter, thinking poor people are “lazy”, or just don’t try “hard enough” to get themselves out of poverty. Thinking or speaking as if the world would be better if we all “just took Jesus Christ into or hearts”. Or that children would be better off in a heterosexual home.

I see another form of bias these days. Some people want to be seen as nonbiased, or NOT racist, so they say things like “I don’t see color when I look at people.”  Or “I am colorblind.” Let me tell you why I think this is a ridiculous statement.

Now before you get your undies in a bunch, and get mad at me for “callng people oyt”, let me say that I DO understand what they mean, but I think by saying they don’t “see color” they are actually devaluing diversity and differences.  There are cultural differences (in my humble opinion) between races.  They may be small, but they are there.  I think these differences should be celebrated, not done away with.  Cultural diversity (in fact ALL diversity) makes the tapestry of humanity more colorful and vibrant, it doesn’t detract from that.  Why would we want everyone to be the same??? What an incredibly boring world that would be!!

So I am going to say I DO see color when I see people.  I see all the beautiful shades of skin tone, and hair color and hair texture.  I see eye color, and body size, and fully-abled or less-abled bodies.  I see gender, whether male, or female or other.  I see age, and sometimes I can see wealth or poverty.  I see all of those things when I look at people.  That doesn’t make me a racist.  It makes me observant.

diversity

In my opinion, the problem is not in seeing our differences, but in assigning stereotypes and biases to the people we see based on what we see.  To assume when we see a black person that the color of their skin somehow tells us something about their character is the problem.  To see an Asian person and assume they are good at math is the problem. To see a brown person and assume they are not hard working is the problem.   To place stereotypes and bias on a person merely by looking at them IS THE PROBLEM!! This does not just apply to the color or “hue” of someone’s skin, but also their gender, their physical bodies, their mental abilities, their sexuality, age, religion, etc!

Think about it, we can’t even assume that a person with darker pigmented skin is “african”.  They may be of Caribbean, or African, or Middle Eastern, or indigenous heritage.  They may be biracial, or multiracial.  We can assume very little about someone based on external appearances.  Assumptions and assigning stereotypes is the enemy, NOT seeing their “color”.

I think if we do want to truly become a post racist society we really need to think about this, and start valuing all humans for their differences, not try to make all humans the same. Do you “see color” when you look at people?

Go ahead and “see” a person’s color, and celebrate it!  Move past bias and stereotypes and get to know the person,  no matter what they look like on the outside. Find something of value in them, and remove the stereotype! THEN maybe we can become the post racist society I dream of!

I Am Not Color Blind, Are You?

#lovenothate

I am 49 and still have not found my “God”…..my struggle with religion

I love National Public Radio. Our local station is WHRV, and I listen to it most of the time. I especially love Morning Edition and BBC Newshour. In fact I also love the Cathy Lewis show, and Fresh Air. Okay, I love it all. There have been many times I have sat in my car in the driveway, or in the parking lot at school, and been late just so I can listen to a program. All the while thinking, “just a few more minutes”. I like listening to public radio because I feel smarter when I do. I feel like I learn something new, or hear a different perspective than I had in my own head. I don’t always agree with everything I hear on the radio, but I always listen.

Recently I had one of those moments when I stayed in my car to listen to a program. It was very interesting, and I heard someone speaking about something I had thought many times but had not put voice to. I heard a story about Eric Weiner and a book he wrote called “Man Seeks God”.

He talked about how he went to the emergency room at a hospital with abdominal pains and a nurse whispered in his ear, “have you found your God yet?” Being a person who works in the medical field I do find it a bit odd that she would say such a thing to a patient, but it was a good thing because it caused Eric to embark upon a quest. A quest to find his God.

In his book he talks about his journey through Islam, and Buddhism, and Christianity, and Judaism. He talks about the things he found and what it meant to him.This whole topic hit really close to home for me. I mean, I am 49 already, and I struggle with the same thing.  Have I found my God?

Have I found my God? That is an interesting question. I am 49 and still have not found my “God”…..do you struggle with this too?

I was raised Jewish, but we were a family who did not attend Temple. I did not have a Bat Mitzvah and cannot speak or read Hebrew. I do know the prayers and my parents always did the “big” holidays. We had a Passover Seder every year, and ate apples dipped in honey on Rosh Hashanah. We fasted on Yom Kippur and had a dreidel box with presents in it at Hanukkah. It was next to the Christmas tree, but at least my parents taught me about my Jewish heritage.

When I became an adult I learned a lot about the Mormon faith from a roommate I had while I was stationed in Great Lakes.  Then I learned a lot about Catholicism from a guy I dated.  Then I married a man who was Church of Christ. While I really liked much of what I learned in the Christian church, I could never quite wrap my head around the “only Christians get to Heaven” part.

My parents were good people, but they did not believe in Jesus as their savior. Why did that make them unworthy? Why were only Christians the right ones? I never understood how they could be the only group that is “right”. To me it felt a bit elitist. And somehow wrong……   I just couldn’t ever believe in an “all loving”, omniscient being who would somehow “other” a group just because they didn’t worship him (it)….that just goes against every fiber of my being….

By the time I moved where I live now, my life was very different. I was divorced, had a female partner, and still had not found a religious home where I felt comfortable and like I belonged. I found a local Unitarian Universalist church, and after doing some research about what UU’s believed, we checked it out.

Unitarian Universalism is a welcoming faith, and I love almost everything about it, but even there, I had some reservations about some aspects of it.

I like some Buddhist beliefs, but can’t find my way to believe all of those either.

I have studied some Wiccan beliefs and find those very interesting and comfortable also. But it still isn’t a “perfect” fit for me.

And my family is not much help to me in this area either.  Karol was raised Catholic, but says regarding religion she is “unsure”.  My mother was raised Southern Baptist, but converted to Judaism before she married my Jewish father so we would be born Jewish.  She now says she is an atheist.  Our oldest son Brandon says he “doesn’t know”, what he is, the middle son, Zachary, says he is an atheist, and the youngest son The Genius says he is a “Jewnitarian”, (A Jewish Unitarian Universalist). So even my family is a hodge podge of religious beliefs.

So I guess there is no religion that fits me perfectly. I guess I am a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  I don’t think “God” is a man, yet I don’t think “God” is a woman either. I don’t think of gender when I think of “God”, I usually think of the universe, or an ethereal being of some kind without a body shape, just spirit. As Eric puts it I seem to have found an “IKEA God.” “Some assembly required,” he says. “[The] idea is that you can cobble together your sort of own personal religion, a sort of mixed tape of God.”

I liked that. It made sense to me, and somehow seemed to put the religious puzzle pieces in my brain into a cohesive unit. So I have decided that it is okay to be eclectic when dealing with religion. That you can take the pieces you like and that make sense to you and add it to the other things that make sense to you and stir it all together to make a wonderful spiritual soup that is palatable and I can live with on a daily basis!

What is God to me?

I love National Public Radio.

Our local station is WHRV, and I listen to it most of the time. I especially love Morning Edition and BBC Newshour. In fact I also love the Cathy Lewis show, and Fresh Air. Okay, I love it all. There have been many times I have sat in my car in the driveway, or in the parking lot at work, and been late just so I can listen to a program. All the while thinking, “just a few more minutes”. I like listening to public radio because I feel smarter when I do.

I feel like I learn something new, or hear a different perspective than I had in my own head. I don’t always agree with everything I hear on the radio, but I always listen.
This morning was one of those mornings where I stayed in my car to hear the last few minutes of a broadcast. It was very interesting, and I heard someone speaking about something I had thought many times but had not put voice to. I heard a story about Eric Weiner and a book he wrote called “Man Seeks God”.

So it made me start thinking, “what is God to me?”

He talked about how he went to the emergency room at a hospital with abdominal pains and a nurse whispered in his ear, “have you found your God yet?” Being a person who works in the medical field I do find it a bit odd that she would say such a thing to a patient, but it was a good thing because it caused Eric to embark upon a quest. A quest to find his God.

In his book he talks about his journey through Islam, and Buddhism, and Christianity, and Judaism. He talks about the things he found and what it meant to him. I will probably buy his book and read it, but the whole topic hit really close to home for me. I mean, I am 47 already.

Have I found my God? I spent some time thinking about it.  I  talked to my clients about it, and my co-workers and my partner Karol. I asked myself what my religion is and I thought about my own spiritual journey.

I was raised Jewish, but we were a family who did not attend Temple. I did not have a Bat Mitzvah and cannot speak or read Hebrew. I do know the prayers and my parents always did the “big” holidays. We had a Passover Seder every year, and ate apples dipped in honey on Rosh Hashanah. We fasted on Yom Kippur and had a dreidel box with presents in it at Hanukkah. It was next to the Christmas tree, but at least my parents taught me about my Jewish heritage.

When I grew up I had a roommate who was Mormon, and I married a man who was a Christian. I liked many of the things I learned in church, but could never quite wrap my head around the “only Christians get to Heaven” part. My parents were good people, but they did not believe in Jesus as their savior. Why did that make them unworthy? Why were only Christians the right ones? I never understood how they could be the only group that is “right”. To me it felt a bit elitist.

After I got divorced and fell in love with my partner I was looking for a church home for us and happened upon the Unitarian Universalist faith. That was a welcoming faith, and I love almost everything about it, but even there, I have some reservations about some aspects of it. I like some Buddhist beliefs, but can’t find my way to all of those either. I have studied some Wiccan beliefs and find those very interesting and comfortable also. When I came home today I asked my family what they believe their religion to be. My mother is an atheist, Karol said she was “raised Catholic”, but now says she “doesn’t know” what she “is”. The oldest son  also said he “doesn’t know”, the middle son said he is an atheist, and the youngest son said he is a “Jewnitarian”, (A Jewish Unitarian Universalist). So even my family is a hodge podge of religious beliefs.

So I guess there is no cookie cutter religion for me. I don’t think God is a man, yet I don’t think God is a woman either. I don’t think of gender when I think of God, I usually think of the universe, or an ethereal being of some kind without a body shape, just spirit. As Eric puts it I seem to have found an “IKEA God.” “Some assembly required,” he says. “[The] idea is that you can cobble together your sort of own personal religion, a sort of mixed tape of God.”

I liked that. It made sense to me, and somehow seemed to put the religious puzzle pieces in my brain into a cohesive unit. So I have decided that it is okay to be eclectic when dealing with religion. That you can take the pieces you like and that make sense to you and add it to the other things that make sense to you and stir it all together to make a wonderful spiritual soup that is palatable and I can live with on a daily basis!