I was very amused to find that the strongest reaction to my most recent blog came from my older brother. He pointed out to me that while I may think that I am distancing myself from organized religion, my Christian background is still very much in evidence. He's not wrong.
My statement that I don't consider myself to be religious wasn't intended to discredit my upbringing- which included church services every single Sunday from the time that I was born until I was a sophomore or junior in high school. I am extremely grateful to my parents for providing me with that education, and even more grateful to them for allowing me the freedom to make my own decisions about what to do with that education once I was old enough to begin forming my own opinions.
Since then, I have studied religion both formally and informally in various ways. I am a knowledge seeker. I believe in asking questions. I have been fortunate to have been exposed to many people from a variety of different cultures over the years. I've always tried to learn as much about them and their beliefs as I can within the constraints of time and circumstances.
I tell you all of this because in order to begin to understand a person you need to understand their background. Our personal morals and beliefs are formed by our experiences in the world. We all have different experiences, so we all have different beliefs.
Many, many arguments start because people don't understand each other. We misinterpret the actions of others because we expect them to think the same way that we do. We forget that their view of the world is different from our own.
If you want to understand me, you have to know my rules.
These are the rules that I live by. That's not to say that I expect anyone else to agree...this is just my own personal code of conduct and the message I hope that my daughter receives.
1. ALL people are equally deserving of love and respect. There are no bad people, only bad decisions.
2. do not judge another person's actions until you have a solid understanding of their circumstances
3. treat other people the way that you would want to be treated in identical circumstances
4. honesty is always the best policy...but there is such a thing as tact. Never lie, but be as empathetic as possible when sharing the truth. Forgiveness is easier to gain than trust.
5. Always take responsibility for your actions. Everyone messes up. If you mess up, own it and be prepared to deal with the consequences. Remember that it is OK to ask for help. There is a reason that families exist.
6. Never, EVER have sex with anyone you are not prepared to raise a child with.
7. People come first. Chores and "things" can wait.
8. Your character is only as strong as your word. Never make promises lightly.
9. The energy that you put out into the world is the energy that will come back to you...so SMILE.
That's me in a nutshell. If you are ever unsure of where I am coming from it's a pretty safe bet that my actions stem from this set of rules.