A couple of days ago, Karl had written about running across an entry by Alissa about an NPR show entitled This I Believe, where people get air-time to talk about their personal beliefs. Well, Karl went ahead and typed out what he believes, and it was a fascinating, beautiful read. I left a comment saying "I wish I had the guts to do this," and then moved on to the next site on my blogroll. It's not that I don't have the guts to write my beliefs, I'm just not comfortable sharing them on my blog.
But then last night when I was at the grocery store, something happened to change my mind.
I was walking down an aisle looking for microwave popcorn, when I spotted a Hispanic woman shopping with her two children. She was carrying her youngest child, an adorable girl with wide eyes in a cute little sun dress. Trotting along ahead of her was an equally adorable young boy wearing khakis and a bright blue button-down shirt. His hair combed, belt buckled, and shoes cleaned, he looked like he hopped out of the children's section of an Eddie Bauer catalog. As the little boy walked down the aisle, he would point out objects and speak its name in Spanish and English. "MAÍZ! MAÍZ!" he would shout, quickly followed by "CORN! CORN!" It looked to me like he was teaching his mother English, as he was constantly looking back at her as he pointed and spoke, but he could have just as easily been practicing his own English skills. Whatever he was doing, it brought a smile to my face, because he showed such enthusiasm in his never-ending task of translating everything in the store.
The moment was too good to last, of course.
Coming from the opposite direction were two skanky bitches who took great delight in giggling "UNEMPLOYMENT! UNEMPLOYMENT!" and "WELFARE! WELFARE!" as they passed.
I was immediately consumed with rage, and was about to point at them and scream "BITCH! BITCH!" and "SKANK! SKANK!" but realized that this would only bring myself down to their level, and ultimately accomplish nothing. Instead I stood there fuming as the boy, only temporarily interrupted, continued on with his efforts. "JUGO! JUGO! - JUICE! JUICE!"
It was then I realized that what I BELIEVE is that nobody should be looked down upon or thought less of because of how they look, where they come from, what they believe, or who they love. And anybody who would persecute somebody for any of these things... particularly a child... is pretty pathetic. Who knows what the future may bring? Assuming that his intellectual curiosity isn't crushed by redneck racist bitches at the grocery store, this little boy could grow up to become President of the United States one day. His potential is limited only by the confines society would choose to place upon him. Knowing this disgusts me to my very core, because I've just witnessed first-hand the adversity he will be facing every day of his life. Everything else aside, this little boy... so happy in a world full of possibilities... can be dismissed, ignored, crushed, or tossed aside based solely on his heritage, without so much as a second thought.
What a waste.
It's not that crap like this is something new to me, it's just that seeing such a vivid example of this despicable shit really puts a damper on your day.
It also makes you want to blog about what you believe, even if it is in an extended entry...
THIS I BELIEVE
As somebody who turns to Buddhism as a blueprint for living, I believe that all life is sacred. I believe that, whenever possible, life should be cherished and respected. Whether this means catching a spider and taking it outside instead of stepping on it... or accepting people for who they are and not judging them because they are different from you... it's all the same. Life is a miracle that you can witness every single day, and to not be amazed by it all is an offense to whatever beliefs you hold dear.
This leads to all kinds of decisions that everybody has to make for themselves. I don't eat meat. I do, however, wear leather shoes because I can't find an adequate substitute. In any event, I don't judge people for their personal choices in matters like these, and would prefer it if others extend the same courtesy to me.
Like Karl, I believe that children should be loved and protected above all other things.
Unlike Karl, I believe anyone who would inflict physical or emotional damage upon a child should be shot in the fucking head, as there is no place on this earth for one who would corrupt the innocence of a child. This is very difficult for me to reconcile with my mandate to cherish and respect all life, but I somehow sleep just fine at night knowing I believe this.
I do not, however, believe that any justice system is incapable of making a mistake where capital punishment is concerned. Because of this, I don't believe in the death penalty, even for child rapists and abusers who I think deserve to be shot in the fucking head.
I believe that all people are equal.
I don't believe that somebody who believes differently than I do is wrong. I don't believe that people who have a skin color or eye color or hair color or shoe size different from mine are inferior. I don't believe that those who speak a different language than I do are uncivilized. I don't believe that lines drawn on a map can make one group of people be more important than any other. I don't believe that my way is the only way.
I believe we are all on this earth together, and man's constant need to divide, separate, and classify people is one of humanity's biggest failings.
I believe that personal choices should not be regulated, prohibited, or demonized by the government of these United States or its citizens unless such choices would bring harm to others. I believe the same for governments of other nations but, since I am not a citizen of other nations, they should decide for themselves how they want to be governed.
As an example, I believe abortion is wrong, because I believe that life begins at conception and all life should be cherished. I accept, however, that there are people who have different beliefs about when life begins, and they should be allowed to follow their own conscience without having contrary beliefs forced upon them by myself or the government.
With this in mind, I believe that labeling the USA as a "Christian Nation" as justification for trampling people's beliefs is absurd. Anybody who does so at the expense of the 25% of us who are not Christian are dumbasses who need to read The Constitution upon which this country was founded. I further believe that, of the 75% who claim to be "Christian," only a small fraction actually live up to Christian ideals (which is why being judged and condemned by these people is amusing to me, and why I despise people like Pat Robertson for doing so).
Likewise, I believe that who you love and how you choose to express or acknowledge this love is nobody's fucking business.
Especially the government's.
I believe that two people who love each other should be able to get married. Even if they both have a penis. Or if they both have a vagina. Or even if they can't define their sexuality at all. If two atheists can be married in a non-religious ceremony by a justice of the peace and be recognized by The State as "married," then the government has no business branding marriage as a "religious act," and should allow any two people to marry. Otherwise, it's just selective persecution by a body elected to represent all people, and illegal discrimination.
I believe that to hate anyone or anything is a horrendous abuse of energy and not a constructive use of time.
That being said, I have no problem admitting that I hate Ann Coulter and people like her who choose to use hate as a tool to divide us. I believe that people who persecute under the pretense of being persecuted should be reviled, vilified, then ultimately forgotten for the benefit of all mankind.
I believe that the diversity of people on this planet is the best thing about it, and there's room enough for everybody. I would be happy spending the rest of my life traveling this earth and meeting as many different people from as many different places with as many different beliefs as possible. I believe that if more people could stop seeing diversity as an excuse to hate, this planet would be a much better place.
Above all, I believe friends, family, and a good laugh make life worth living.
I believe that this entry is entirely too serious now, and our trivial beliefs can be the most fun...
I believe that Depeche Mode is one of the greatest bands ever, and seeing them live in concert can change lives.
I believe that Jeremy Piven's Cupid was the greatest show ever to air on television.
I believe that Elizabeth Hurley is the most beautiful woman on earth.
I believe that any bagel made outside of New York City is not really a bagel at all.
I believe that a Macintosh is the only computer worth owning.
I believe that Batman is the coolest comic book character ever.
I believe that if I don't stop believing just now, this entry will go on forever because I believe in a lot of stuff.
I believe that if you were to believe in only one thing, it should be that compassion and caring for other living things is all that really matters.