It’s possible that I take the “personal” part of personal beliefs a little too seriously. As in they’re my beliefs and they’re none of your business.
Seriously. This blog post isn’t about what I believe but why I keep my beliefs to myself.
I was raised by two atheists. Please note that sentence. I was raised BY two atheists; I wasn’t raised TO BE atheist. I was raised to believe whatever I wanted to believe.
As a kid, I decided to explore the possibility of God and religion. Over the years I went to a few different churches. It might be hard to believe, but at one point I was a very good Bible quizzer. I can still quote bits of Luke.
My parents were cool with it. They never told me I couldn’t go to church, never told me I was wrong, never told me I was stupid. They respected my choice and let me find my own way. They never once pushed their beliefs on me.
My parents set a pretty good example for me in that respect. The word “God” wasn’t an assault on what they believed; it was just another word. They didn’t care that it was in the Pledge of Allegiance or written on money. It had nothing to do with what they believed at the time and as far as they were concerned, in those contexts, it wasn’t infringing on their beliefs and trying to make them change their mind.
It was quite liberating to be brought up in a household like that. I was never made to feel threatened or forced to get defensive about what I believed and I learned to return in kind.
I also learned to keep it to myself.
Without being expressly told, I learned that personal beliefs were just that. Personal. They’re mine, all mine. No one can give them to me, no one can take them away, and I can’t force them on anyone else. I have to admit that due to my years of spiritual exploration my beliefs are pretty customized. It wouldn’t be easy to preach my gospel.
And I wouldn’t want to. Oh, I will discuss it when asked about it provided that I feel the conversation is safe for expression. When I talk about my beliefs, it’s not an invitation for conversion. I’m not trying to convert you, don’t bother trying to convert me. Don’t worry about saving my soul or convincing me with science. I’m good where I’m at, thanks, and I wouldn’t be so disrespectful to you.
It really boggles me when people express their personal beliefs like they are the statement of utter right. What ego must go into that. What disrespect for anyone who doesn’t think the same. What blindness to think that your beliefs won’t be criticized when you put them on display like that.
There’s another thing. It’s hard to insult me about what I believe when you don’t know what I believe. Oh, I’ve had my feathers ruffled before by people saying things, but the insults weren’t direct because there was no way the offending person could know any differently. I could have, of course, pointed it out, but there’s no satisfaction in the correction when the person just says, “Oh, I wasn’t talking about YOU”.
Instead, I comfort myself in the thought that the person running their mouth is really telling more about themselves than the group they’re insulting. And, yes, I’ve been equally offended by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and everyone else.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m human. I think some things that some people believe are absolutely ridiculous and can’t even begin to understand it. But I try to keep as much of that to myself as I can. If I don’t like people offending me, then I need to work hard to be the bigger person and not offend them. It’s hard and I fail, but I keep trying.
It’s one of my personal beliefs.
And, yeah, for the most part, I keep it to myself.