I’m Not An Atheist

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Many people jump to the conclusion that I am an atheist because I am not religious anymore and can be very critical of organized religion. However, I am not an atheist. I do often listen to atheist podcasts and read atheist books, but I also sometimes listen to and read material from spiritual or religious sources (even the crazy ones, although I listen to them more for amusement). I find myself overall agreeing more with secular thought, but I do feel that differing points of view are essential for having a realistic, down-to-earth view of life.

If I had to choose a label for myself spiritually, it would be agnostic. I’m not really sure what the hell is going on. I’m not a deist, because I’m not positive that there is a greater being or consciousness, although I hope there is to an extent. I don’t believe in the specific gods of any earthly religions, but I wouldn’t mind if there were some wiser (and hopefully caring) beings, or at least some sort of a meaning to all that is.

Because of the state of the world and the suffering, abuse, and slaughter of the innocent, I find it hard to believe in an “all good” being in power, unless that being gave us a choice about being here and what we would face. If earth were some kind of “school” where we choose the lessons we want to learn or the experiences we want to have, then I could see how the powers that be could still be moral and have values. Otherwise, their absence and inaction in the face of so much injustice and pain speaks volumes.

I do not believe in “original sin”. I do not believe in a God who must spill innocent blood in order to be able to forgive someone else for doing something wrong (seriously, how is that even ok???) I do not believe in a being that has such a huge ego all they want is to be worshiped for all eternity (too Donald Trumpish for my taste). I do not believe that there is necessarily an afterlife or heaven/hell, but if there is I would not be shocked or upset unless there was some kind of tyrant running things. If there is some sort of being in charge of it all, I simply hope that they are just and kind, but not cruel or punitive.

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Unpopular Opinion: Assisted Suicide Should Be Allowed for Any Competent Adult

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This post may contain the most unpopular opinion I will likely ever share on my blog. Let me say first off, as a survivor of my sister’s suicide, I know exactly how much it hurts to lose someone close that way and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. However, maybe it is just the libertarian streak in me, but I do think euthanasia should be legal for adults.

When people normally talk about euthanasia, it is regarding those with terminal illnesses. I definitely support the right to peacefully end your life in your own time with those cases. But I also support the right of any fully grown, mature human being to make the decision to not exist anymore if that is what they truly want. There are places in the world that allow euthanasia for severe mental illness, but I would take it even further than that. I don’t think anyone has the right to force another sentient human being to remain alive if they honestly, genuinely don’t want to be here.

Even with my sister, I would not force her to come back to life if I could. She was absolutely miserable. She was in constant mental, physical, and emotional pain. Her life was a wreck due to the aftereffects of severe abuse and treatment resistant mental illness. She tried multiple times to kill herself, and had she survived the last attempt, I have no doubt she would have kept trying, even though I tried my best to encourage her to find reasons to live.

I don’t think that human beings should have to resort to dangerous, violent and potentially severely disabling attempts to end their lives when there are simple, effective ways to end their suffering permanently if they wish to do so. I have been a witness to seeing two of my cats put down peacefully. I can only hope I die so easily and painlessly.

I also don’t think that assisted suicide would be abused as much as people think it would be. When you realize it is the absolute end, with no chance of survival, many balk if they really do not wish to die. Even in documentaries I have watched about euthanasia for mental illness, many people end up backing out during the waiting process because they obviously are not actually ready to die.  I do think there should be some limits set in place, such as age limits, lengthy screening processes (this is certainly something that shouldn’t be rushed into), and mental competency tests to make sure the person is completely aware of the permanent consequences of what they are asking for. It also shouldn’t be something people can decide for other people. You shouldn’t have the right to euthanize your granny or anyone else against their will.

I share this today because it is my personal belief, not because I am suicidal. I actually am not. I have never attempted suicide and do not believe I would do so unless circumstances became such that living was unbearable. It is not something I would take lightly and if I ever did commit suicide, I would likely plan it out precisely and would take into account any suffering it would cause others and would try to minimize that as much as possible. I certainly hope my life never comes to that point, but if it did, I feel like only I have the right to decide if I want to continue to exist or not.

You’ll Regret It All

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I recently came across the following quote by philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and it really struck me as deeply true, at least for me. No matter what I choose to do or choose not to do in life, there is always a part of me that wonders if I made the right choice and won’t shut up with the “what ifs”:

“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”

Pagan and New Age Books I’m Reading

So full disclosure, I think I’ve become a pagan. I’m still agnostic, I don’t believe firmly in any specific deity, although I do have a belief in a kind of universal energy that exists within all things. I guess you might call it a kind of animism which is typically a pagan belief system. I don’t ascribe to Wicca specifically because it has a few too many rules for my liking, so I am definitely an eclectic pagan. I do occasionally do little nature rituals, but I do what I feel speaks to me, not just following others’ ideas. I do enjoy reading about the various Gods and Goddesses because I believe they are important archetypes of various types of energy, but I don’t necessarily see them as beings actually existing in the physical realm.

So on to the video I’m sharing for today, this is just a brief overview of a few books about pagan and new age spirituality I have been reading recently:

The Meaning of Age

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What is the meaning of age?

Is it wisdom?
Only if the time has been spent wisely.

Is it growth?
Only if given room and nourishment to grow.

Is it peace of mind?
Only if all has been found within.

Is it neglect?
Only if the choice is made to turn away.

Is it irrelevance?
Only if importance lies solely in fads.

Is it regret?
Only if wonder and honor are allowed to slip away.

Pony Gods

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Pony Gods
Written By: Maranda Russell

I pray to the Pony Gods.
I don’t know if they listen,
or even if they care,
but sometimes
they do seem to answer.

Why the Pony Gods?
Why not?

I figure the Pony Gods
have just as much a chance
of being good –
or being real
as the human ones.

Are You a Nowhere Man? All About Biases

The Beatles "Nowhere Man"

The Beatles “Nowhere Man”

I’ve said before that I think some of the best poetry snippets can be found in song lyrics. Not every musician or group writes great or even above-average lyrics, but when they do, I like to dissect the songs and really think about them. One song I have always felt a strong kinship with is “Nowhere Man” by The Beatles. I’m not sure many people really stop to think about the song as far as philosophy goes, but I find it full of a kind of zen-like wisdom.

I think perhaps my favorite lines from the song are:

“He’s as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see”

Do you know anyone like that? I know I sure do. I know people who are seemingly intelligent and caring, but are hopelessly blind to certain truths because they either don’t want to see them or because their minds are biased to a point where they can not see anything that doesn’t align with their personal beliefs. Even scientific studies have found this to be true…that our personal beliefs can affect our ability to see things clearly or even figure out simple problems.

When I used to be a foster parent, we had a class we had to take every so often that talked about how deeply bias affects us and the decisions we make, even when we are small children. A child who is biased to believe the world is cruel and unfair (from past neglect or abuse) will make their personal reality fit that view, even if their belief is not the current truth. They will see everything that they experience from that biased point of view and nothing will change their mind unless that bias changes.

I find that fascinating from a psychological point of view and have thought often of what that means when applied to human nature in general. Sometimes it rather discourages me because I understand that many people will choose to be blind or can’t help being blind to seemingly obvious truths no matter how much evidence they are given or how easily their beliefs could be disproven using logic and scientific reason. This makes me want to scream and shout in frustration sometimes. It also makes me worry about what biases I have in place that I don’t even notice. I guess the song was right when it asked, “Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”