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Posts tagged ‘conflict’

We Were All Babies Once


We were all babies once,
With soft and teetering baby heads,
Wide-eyed at the world.

Just like our proverbial baby bottoms,
Uncallused, unblemished, unbruised,
So were our newborn brains – clean, pure.

No neural pathways for fear, jealousy, hatred or self-loathing yet formed.
No axons fused to dendrites to register the words “idiot,” “nigger,” “rape” or “kill.”

For a few precious moments, we were free.

In 1937, Saddam Hussein and Colin Powell,
Had they been left alone together by their mothers to play on a blanket in the sun,
Would have blinked with curious wonder at the chubby round cheeks and dark eyes
Gazing back across flowered fabric.

We don’t choose the gods who speak first into our tiny ears,
Who give color, texture, form to the landscape of our minds.

It is not for us to say whether the hands that hold our wobbly heads are rough or gentle,
Or whether they are there to hold us at all.

We only make do,
And take what we are given,
Because it is all we can, all we have.

Until the time that our muscles and minds have hardened
into some functional state.

And then, we act.

But Then is too late.
The dominoes have been set for us,
And they are already falling.

We choose, yes,
But only from among the paths we see from where we stand.

Our actions are our own,
But we act out of the reality inside,
That was put there by someone else,
whose reality was put there by someone else,
whose reality was put there by someone else…

What if, instead of floating between the households of depressed mother, militant uncle, abusive step-father,
Baby Saddam had sat on my father’s knee,
And been told the same stories I was told.

What if my mother had tucked him in at night
And kissed the spot on his forehead where his sweet, little boy curls fell?

What other pictures might have been painted on the canvas of his mind,
and those of his children
and his children’s children…?

What other ways might the dominoes have fallen?

Perhaps we should not assume too much.
Perhaps we should not forget to turn
And look back at events that came before,
And grieve those first.

Perhaps we should spend less time
Swimming ’round and ’round in the wrongs of the present moment,
And more time figuring out how we might redirect the forward path of fall.

It is possible, you know,
In spite of everything.

We are all babies once.

The Hardest Part

Considering the fact that I have spent nearly my entire 28 years of life believing in the existence of God and seeing all of reality through a Christian lens, it is surprising to me how easily I have been able to let go if it. There has been a lot of mental effort and some mortality-related anguish in coming to my new conclusions about reality, it is true, but for the most part, it has been a fairly smooth theoretical transition.

The practical journey from faith to none, however, is turning out to be really difficult and painful…probably the most difficult/painful thing I have ever experienced.

It is probably one of the most gut-wrenching feelings in the world to know that you are breaking your parents’ (the two people who have loved you most purely and selflessly and unconditionally in your life) hearts, and be unable to do anything about it. (Trying to talk myself back into faith at this point is out of the question. I have seen too much through the crack in the door to be able shut it again and forget. And pretending would be even worse – relationships built on pretense are not relationships at all).

Along with the fact that I am causing deep hurt, worry, grief and pain to the people I love the most and, in their minds, separating myself from them in both this life and the eternal, I am also dealing with a degree of loneliness I have never before experienced. Close relationships – the kind that allow for the exchange of real, true, unfiltered thoughts and feelings from the deepest parts of your heart and mind – take years to develop, and many of the ones I have grown in my own life have been compromised. I am fortunate to have a sister and one close college friend with whom my relationships have been unaffected by my change in perspective, but losing that relaxed, all-knowing, complete openness with my parents, especially, has, in a way, set me adrift in the world.

On top of all that, there is a lingering possibility in my mind that somehow I HAVE been deceived. I can still look at my current self through my past eyes – as a selfish and/or deluded person, choosing her own way over God’s. I can hear my parents’ and friends’ remorse-tinged conclusions that Satan (or my own pride or fear) has blinded me, and their hopeful resolutions to pray me back into the kingdom. Those voices, that point of view, has been engrained in me from the time I was born, and though it no longer makes any sense to me on hardly any level, it is still my “default setting.” I still sometimes wake up in the morning “thinking like a Christian.” And so, there is still a little tiny inkling of fear that maybe they are all right. Maybe I, and the billions of people in the world who cannot, for whatever reason, believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life,” are all wrong…are all headed for Hell.

But then that thought – the thought of Hell – brings me back to my senses…reminds me of how I got here in the first place. It reminds me of all the contradictions I had to rationalize, all of the mental hoops I had to jump through, to believe in Jesus as the Son of God, believe in the Bible, even in a contextual, allegorical sense. No. There is no going back for me. Maybe there is a God. Maybe there is an afterlife. I am still open to that possibility (again, I am a “soft” atheist – I lack belief in a god, as opposed to a “hard” atheist, who believes definitively that there is no god). All I know is that, if there is – He/She cannot possibly be the God revealed in the Bible. Any god who would create, for the sole purpose of his own pleasure, beings with the potential to go bad and end up in eternal anguish, could not be good and could not be God. If God exists, he/she would be completely self-fulfilled. He/she would not need anything or anybody. And to create sentient beings able to experience pain and grief in order to meet some kind of need for “glory” him/herself would not be good or loving or “god-like” at all. This, to me, seems very clear.

At the same time there is a lot about life that I don’t know. And there are now some questions – BIG questions – that I don’t really have any answers for. But these I will get to another day. This post has wandered a long way from its original topic, not to mention grown ridiculously long. Oops! I will be done now.