Politics, religion, career paths–how am I supposed to choose what I stand for? How am I supposed to decide what to care about?
When I was little I had conviction. I believed what my parents told me wholeheartedly. There was no doubt in my mind. My church and my family conditioned me to think and believe in a certain way. The whole time I believed that I had chosen my path. But in reality, I had never even begun to consider the possibilities.
There’s a great falling out in the church. Young people are turning their backs on religion (specifically Christianity, I’m not qualified to talk about any other religions) and I think I know why. It’s because we feel like we were never given a choice. We sit in a pew every Sunday and listen to the pastor tell us that God gave us the free will to serve Him, that we were given a choice.
But if you were born to Christianity, then how is that a choice?
Kids believe anything. They’re brainwashed into believing and never given any other options. No alternatives because Christians are convinced their religion is the only way to heaven.
In my household, my parents are adamant about what they believe. They have no problems telling me what they think. Or spouting off angry comments when someone does something on the religious or political scale that they don’t like.
I admire them for their ability to speak their mind.
But I find myself unable to speak mine because of it.
I wonder if all children feel trapped like this. I remember a family gathering when my uncle confessed to my grandmother that he’d been a street racer as a teenager. Twenty years after the fact, he was finally able to tell her the truth. Is that my fate? To tell my parents that I’m way more liberal than they are twenty years from now because right now I’m too petrified to face their disapproval?
All my life, I’ve allowed my family, friends, and church to define what I believed and what I stood for.
Now I’m finally throwing off the chains and trying to learn to think for myself. A friend of mine laughingly says I’m finally a teenager. It’s strange, because I always considered myself so much more mature than my peers.
In reality, I was just too much of a bigot. I thought I was better than them because I had fear-imposed restraint. Because I couldn’t bring myself to be free like they could. Because I was caught in the web of trying to be what somebody else wanted me to be.
I’m caught still, but at least I can see the web now. I’m trying to free myself. And I’ve made a few controversial decisions that don’t sit well with my family. I’ve also made a few that I haven’t told them about.
But I still wonder how I’m supposed to make the decisions that don’t have easily defined answers. I know how I feel about things, but these decisions tend to be more broad than just my perspective. I don’t understand how someone can stand up and say that not only is their opinion right for them, but it’s right for everyone else too.
I understand why people say that gay marriage is wrong and why they think abortions should be illegal for everyone. I understand that they’re following their religion–that they have to stand up and say it’s wrong for everyone because that’s what their religion says.
But I also understand that the other side doesn’t necessarily follow that religion. They don’t believe that it’s wrong for everyone just because some ancient text says so. That according to their logic, they’re being oppressed. They’re having someone else’s belief system forced upon them through the legal system.
And so I stand here. Fragile. Indecisive. Standing in the eye of a politically religious hurricane, unsure of which side to choose–or even if I want to choose a side at all. Angry at myself because the only reason I’m on the fence is because I’m not in any of the oppressed groups. Because the decisions our nation is warring with don’t directly affect me.
Angry because I feel forced to choose a side anyway.
Can I be impartial in a such a shitstorm of anger and hate? Would that impartiality damn me in the eyes of both parties?