mi pérdida de fé

El tema de religión y la iglesia católica a resurgido por las notas que han sido publicadas sobre los abusos descubiertos en Pennsylvania en Estados Unidos. Por un lado estas noticias me causan enojo y malestar. Por otro, parte de mí espera que los seguidores de esta institución finalmente lleguen a ver lo que yo veo.

La perdida de fé es un proceso que toma tiempo. Como si fuese a salir del closet metafórico, es un camino que comienza con dudas, miedos, y reafirmaciones. No es una rebeldía contra la sociedad ni un querer causar malestar en otros.

Para mí, todo comenzó desde muy chica y el tener que ir a misa. Jamás lo disfruté. El ir a misa, clases de catecismo, y el rezar. Jamás lo entendí y se me hacia tedioso. El despertar un domingo para vestirte en tu mejor vestuario para ir a pararte en espacio claustrofóbico sin clima, no es la definición de diversión para ni un niño. Y el esperar que una niña pequeña ponga atención a algo que no entiende es mucho pedir.

Yo me la vivía analizando quienes estaban ahi sufriendo conmigo, cuestionando que exactamente era lo que pensaban. Los adultos se veían semi atentos y sus niños igual de distraídos que yo. Seguía sus movimientos- señal de la cruz, hincar, sentar, parar, sentarse de nuevo- pero no entendía ni para qué ni por qué.

Alrededor de mis 12 años paramos de ir a misa y fue la bendición más grande para mí. Me podía despertar un poco más tarde y esperar con anticipación a un almuerzo familiar en el restaurante al que recurríamos cada fin de semana. Pero aún así éramos creyentes. Mis padres simplemente ya no le vieron punto el atender a misa cuando nadie quería estar ahí. Claro, tuve amigas que me decían lo malo que era esto y que ellas me recogerían de mi casa por que tenía que ir.

Por otro lado, con mi inocencia de niña, tampoco entendía porqué mis deseos no se cumplían. Me pasaba las noches rezando y pidiendo. Rezaba por que este dios tan bondadoso me diera la orejita que se le olvido hacerme. Pero este ser tan poderoso parecía ignorarme y eso me molestaba. Me sentía rechazada y enojada que este dios no me ponía la atención que pensaba merecerme. Me despertaba cada mañana alzando la mano a mi cabeza solo para decepcionarme más con el.

Durante la adolescencia aprendí a ser más observante. Veía muchas incongruencias entre lo que la gente expresaba cuando hablaban de religión y su fé, pero su comportamiento dejaba saber que eso que proclamaban no se sostenían con el pasar del tiempo. Comencé a ver a la gente como personas individuales con sus fallas y menos como parte de un gran plan diseñado por un dios. Estas fallas también las vi en mi misma.

Comencé a aprender sobre el mundo y las cosas terribles que sucedían mientras mis amigas y familiares hablaban sobre las bendiciones de Dios y como hay que dar las gracias. Empece a cuestionar el por qué a mi me tocaba dar gracias por lo positivo de mi vida pero alguien más se veía sufrir cosas que estaban fuera de su control. Se hablaba de la pobreza de mi país mientras comíamos en un comedor elegante después de que yo regresaba de mi escuela privada dentro una de las comunidades más adineradas del país. El “gracias a Dios” perdió todo significado para mí.

A los 16 ya me identificaba como “Agnóstica”. Un paso natural para cualquier católico en cuestionamiento de su fé.  Ya hablaba un poco más abiertamente sobre el tema pero con miedo a ser criticada u hostigada por esta decisión. En aquel entonces ya había cruzado una linea que pocos cruzaban. El cuestionar.

Durante la carrera es cuando todo cambió. No solo perdí total fé en la iglesia, en Dios, o en un tipo de ser espiritual o metafísico, pero adquirí una actitud de desprecio por la religión como tal.

Al inicio esta actitud me comía viva y me hervía la sangre. Buscaba con quién pelear y debatir constantemente. En restaurantes, en bares, en juntadas entre amigas- donde fuese. De una manera u otra sacaba el tema, recitaba de los libros que leía y como si fuera guerrera en camino a batalla, mis manos bailaban y saltaban mientras daba mis argumentos que parecían derramarse de mi boca sin control. Claro, con poco resultado.

Había leído un libro que me afirmó y contesto todas las dudas y preguntas que tenía capturadas en mi mente. Reí y llore mientras que el texto causaba que mi corazón se acelerara de la emoción. Lo que sucedía era algo que no podía describir a otros. Una revoltura de éxtasis, felicidad y calma mental que buscaba desde pequeña.

Investigue al autor y aquellos que escribían con un pensar similar. Compre más libros y leí como solía hacerlo de chica. Pasaba noches enteras hasta que saliera el sol viendo debates sobre religión en YouTube. Tanta era mi emoción que no me importaba perder sueño con esto que había descubierto y morir de sueño en mis clases de la universidad.

Pero también fue durante este tiempo que aprendí hablando con los demás lo fácil que es para otros decir, “Es que tienes que respetar.” El decir esto siempre me dejaba confundida. Mi intención en sí no era faltarles el respeto pero tener una conversación o debate sobre un tema que tanta gente considera importante. Como un autor dice, si podemos debatir sobre todos los aspectos de la vida social, por que la religión se omite de esto? Por que esto es libre de crítica? Más aún cuando tantos lo consideran el motor de sus vidas diarias.

Cuando me decían que debía respetar, se referían a que la religión es una experiencia personal. Pero también era decir “Ya no hables de esto. Mejor no le muevas.” Esto se volvió inaceptable para mi. La palabra respetar me dejo cuestionando que exactamente implicaba.

Me encontraba en mi escuela de arte teniendo que hacer mi tesis. Limpié mi studio, puse papel café en la paredes y escribí la palabra “Respetar” en el centro y me senté frente a el a pensar. Escribí más palabras, ideas que se conectaban y entretejían. De ahi, desarrolle mi proyecto.

Son cinco años después y mi pensar no ha cambiado pero mi manera de lidiar con el sí. Después de la carrera hice maestría en Sociología para poder encontrar más respuestas a como lidiar con esto que me consumía tanto tiempo y energía. Quería poder hablar del tema de manera inteligente y calmada. No es decir que ahora lo tengo todo averiguado, pero como decido responder afecta a como los demás responden a mí. El “Tienes que respetar”, fue menos frecuente.

Las respuestas que ahora veo hacia el tema de los abusos me siguen sorprendiendo. “No hay que generalizar.” “No todos son así.” “Hay que ver lo bueno que se hace también.” “No tienes que alabar a los curas.” “No creo en la iglesia pero tengo mi fé.”

Por un lado tengo empatía hacia ellos. Yo me sentí liberada de esta religión y por ende ahora puedo ver la situación con ojos objetivos. Hasta perdón y lastima siento por la decepción que deben sentir los religiosos ante esta realidad de película de miedo. La película más terrible que uno se podría imaginar.

Por otro lado, no acepto el silencio por su parte. Son los religiosos quienes se quedan callados ante lo que sucede. Son quienes ofrecen excusas que no tienen ni pies ni cabeza. Si tan personal e importante es su fé para ellos, ¿por que no pelear por ella? Si fuese cualquier otra organización, religión, industria; la gente no tendría estas respuestas que repartir. Estarían listo para denunciarlos orgullosamente. Critican el Islam por sus problemas pero reparten excusas por el Catolicismo.

Lo que yo veo en el catolicismo, como en las demás religiones, es una organización creada por hombres. Una institución llena de corrupción con sangre y lagrimas derramadas.

Es escoger ignorar lo increíble que es el mundo natural y las ciencias, lo interesante que somos los humanos, y el rechazo de la verdad por una idea que no se a comprobado si es que resulta ser verídica. Mi pregunta a ellos es, ¿pues a costa de qué?

Es tomar la palabra de ese ser humano parado frente a ti como quien interpreta la voz y conocimiento de un dios al cual das toda razón y responsabilidad por tu existencia. Es aceptar que esa persona detrás del púlpito tiene una verdad que tu buscas mientras estas consciente que el sabe lo que sus compañeros hacen detrás de las cortinas y mantiene el silencio. Es escoger tus creencias sobre el bienestar de tus hermanos y hermanas.

Ahora cuando me hablan de lo personal que es la religión y la fé, siempre respondo con lo mismo. “Eres católica/o y crees en el dios católico por la mera coincidencia de que naciste en México, tus padres son católicos y 80% de los mexicanos son católicos. Eres católica/o porque hace una vez fuimos conquistados por los españoles y trajeron con ellos este dogma cual ahora llamas personal. Si fuese haber nacido en Irán, lo más probable es que serías musulmán.”

Entiendo el aspecto meditativo de la religión. A eso muchos le llaman espiritualidad. Es completamente humano buscar espacio donde poder contemplar y sentir una clase de paz mental. Pero dar excusas por los abusos y la corrupción de esta institución, por llamarlo una experiencia personal y espiritual es ignorar la realidad de tu parte en la composición de esta organización y la importancia de ellos en tu propia fé.

Y cuando me dicen que tengo que respetar, respondo “No tengo por que respetar las malas ideas… Más aún cuando buscas defender tu fé personal a costa de la violación de miles de niños.”

 

Recomendaciones:

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (documental, 2012) > sobre los abusos en una escuela de niños sordomudos. Es muy fuerte. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTlP2-G0ec8

The Keepers (serie documental, 2017) https://www.netflix.com/us-es/title/80122179 > sobre el asesinato de una monja quien sabia de los abusos en una escuela norteamericana

(No se asusten por los títulos llamativos…. Son autores extremádamente estudiados.)

“The God Delusion”, 2006, Richard Dawkins

“God is not Great: How religion poisons everything”, 2007, Christopher Hitchens

“The End of Faith”, 2004, Sam Harris

Videos de Christopher Hitchens en Youtube: Fue un hombre muy inteligente con una manera de hablar que no se iguala en nadie

The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World, intelligence squared debates> debate cual cuestiona si la iglesia católica es buena para el mundo

 

 

 

What The Hell Are We Fighting For?: Mexico and “the Family Unit”

I’m incredibly privileged and sometimes I forget.

I’m not sure whom I’m directing myself towards. To write this as an attempt to have it speak to the people of Mexico seems futile. To write this in English…well maybe it can be more widely read. After all, we are a country that sends its best.

I’ve been living in New York City for seven years. I went to a very liberal university for both undergraduate and graduate school. I have surrounded myself with inspiring hard working friends. I have insurmountable support from my family in Mexico and I want for nothing except what I, only, could get myself in the way of. But sometimes I forget.

Sometimes I forget the environment I stepped out of. One in where the social structures in place prevent others, different from me, from forgetting where they find themselves.

Yesterday, one of several marchas, or protests, nationwide, took place in Mexico calling for the “protection” of “the family unit”.  This was a large protest. A protest for the family unit based on one father, one mother, and however many children they may want to produce.

When I speak of forgetting, I’m referring to my position as a Mexican living in a highly democratic society in which most of the time, not always but most the time, the basic fundamentals of democracy do win.

The president of Mexico, the same guy that just offensively invited Donald Trump to our country, just signed an initiative to make same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Go figure he’d get something right. Unfortunately, this has caused an uproar.

What I forget is that Mexico is still a very confused country. As a developing nation that suffers from a corrupt government, corrupt policing, a corrupt economy, a corrupt public education system, and bases its aspirations mostly on ideology rather than fact; manipulation seems to be the only way to mobilize its people.

We are a people that either extort or are victims of extortion. We allow the powers that be to stand on our shoulders as long as we can go through the day without being bothered. We have, to a large degree, become an apathetic people who, instead of fighting for what we deserve, rather accept and wish for the best.

And then yesterday happened.

I sometimes forget that my country does have a fire in it. A powerful passion that is rarely used. One that is incomparable to that of the country I find myself in. We are a country of happiness. A country that has offered the world Nobel Prize winners. A country that has offered medical, scientific, and manufacturing advancements that compete at a global level. Not to mention, a country that has given you the best food, beer, and tequila you’ll ever have.

We are a people that want to sit down with you, have a beer, and have a good laugh. But we are also a people that sends its best because our own country fails us often.

But what the hell are we fighting for now?

As a progressive feminist Mexican in NY, I am comfortable where I am. If I speak, I speak to the choir. I may have a debate, but its a healthy one. No one leaves offended and its all fair game. This is not the case in Mexico. That is what I forget and that is a privilege.

When I speak of an equalitarian society in Mexico, I’m often welcomed with a rolling of the eyes, a pat on the back, and a dismissive “oh well” attitude. If it doesn’t affect them, its not an issue. This is an example of the general attitude I receive when visiting the country I call home.

But if I scroll on Facebook to posts about women or the LGBT community in Mexico, the comment section is dominated by replies that refer to christian traditional values. I go through them and in a seconds time become flustered with confusion, anger, and a feeling of powerlessness. The only thought that goes through my mind is: How?

How are we the country that looks to feel accepted out of it and yet can’t even accept our own within it?

With all of our problems, yesterday, the people of Mexico stood up for an imaginary problem. Imaginary because the wood and smoke used to ignite that fire was based on nothing more than old age tradition. A tradition which is looked to be imposed over actual democracy.

Yesterday, we were not our best. We were our petty, scared, and self-manipulated selves. The ones that fear to be told our truths rather than face our own reality. The ones that stick our heads in the ground rather than stick it above the water and fight for ourselves. The ones that shiver at the thought of change. Change that may allow us to be that which we aspire. Change that may allow us to move into the future and let go of the past. Very unfortunate aspects of who we are. Aspects that we take for granted at times but get in the way of our own success as a country.

I love my country; but I often feel ashamed of it.

We laugh at our neighboring country, the one I currently live in. But it is a country where mistakes are observed and fixed, not regurgitated and repeated.

After the Orlando shooting happened, an incident where many of the queer community died, I posed the question: What kind of country does America want to be? Now, I ask my home, my country, my people: What kind of country does Mexico want to be?

The Inconsistency Between ‘Respect’ and Religion

It was the beginning of April in 2013, a month away from my graduation thesis show. I plopped on the floor of my small but recently cleared out art studio at school as I stared at the large Gordon Paper I had tacked onto one of the walls. I got up, took a pen, and wrote ‘Respect’ in the middle of the intimidating brown space. I stared at it, sat back down, and stared some more.

Earlier that year I had recently completed Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and could not be stopped from bringing it up in mundane conversation. While I’m sure I annoyed many, religion became, and has been, paramount in my life. Not my adherence to a religion but my own removal from one.

It wasn’t that I had been taught something foreign to me and became fascinated. It was that every question and every doubt I had about the role of religion in my life and environment, became validated by a single piece of literature. I had to get it out.

In speaking of my newly found passion with friends and family, I came to realize that the conversation on religion always ended with one similar sentiment by those I spoke with: “You just need to respect others beliefs.”

But what was I saying that had anything to do with respect?

Frustrated by the way those conversations ended, I couldn’t stop wondering what people meant. Respect? Respect what exactly? What does that mean? Is it an action? An emotional stance?

While to many the answers to those questions may seem obvious,  I’d like to challenge that notion.

I couldn’t shake that word: Respect. I wanted a conversation about the role of religion in the social world, not advice on how I should personally deal with it.

Many of us, if not all, were taught that ‘respect’ is a sort of “live and let live” mantra which to live by. “You do you and I do me”. Therefore, on the superficial level, I was being told to “you need to……” What?!

I need to do what?! I need to hold esteem or regard for those beliefs? That is, after all, the definition of ‘respect’. To admire, hold regard, or esteem for someone or something. That’s when it hit me! Once you attempt to interchange the word ‘respect’ for one of its available synonyms, its imagined meaning completely changes. Here are some examples:

Therefore, when being told to ‘respect’ religious faiths, I was expected to have a sort of positive attitude towards those beliefs in spite of my own. And while I understand what is being said, it, in its entirety, dismisses and disregards what religion is.

I could go through the sociological approach towards outlining how, by its very premise, religion is not based on a “you and me” social relationship. Rather, it is an “us and them” situation. Religion, for much that one could look to argue for its spiritual value, is organized. There are places of worship, doctrines, hierarchies, and conflicting ideologies and interpretations. But there is enough literature out there by intellectuals to complete the task.

But because of horrific events occurring world wide with the rise of Islamic terrorism, I believe there is no better time to put into perspective what ‘respect’ means when we attempt to unwrap religion. Therefore, I will use Islam in my approach but will further expand with the Christian-Catholic faith.

The Orlando shooting last weekend, once more, stirred up the political conversation as to the role of Islam in the world. Whether or not it was the shooters motivator, it became part of the conversation.

On one side, there are the Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, and xenophobic. On the other, there are those that do not equate Islamic terrorism to Islam. Those that adhere to ISIS or Al Qaeda are a tiny, insignificant portion of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world.

Because the former attitude has gained mainstream status, the latter has come out in an attempt to point out that a small portion of something, does not make it everything. And while this is true, it does not make the latter all the better.

The liberal media and moderate Muslims in the West have come out in defense of their religion with fervor and passion. The phrase “It is a religion of peace” is often espoused by Muslims and liberals that speak out against those that look to demonize the religion. These are, more than not, Muslims that have become somewhat westernized and liberals who seem to want to pacify the debate on religion. And while they should do this, there is discrepancy between the used defense and the actual practice of Islam in Islamic based nations.

By basing the debate of the nature of Islam on terrorism, the conversation completely disregards the social and political practices of Islam. And while we should all be vocally against terrorism, we not need to agree with the religion itself in order to do so. As moderate Muslims put it, Islam is not about terrorism. But, I along with others say, Islam does not coincide with liberal, or even secular, thought either.

Now, this is not about demonizing Islam or feeding the Islamophobic, anti-immigration, xenophobic rhetoric. It is about accepting that there are absolute contradicting values between Islamic nations and their traditions, and the practice of separation of church and state in Europe and the United States, for example. The latter, isn’t even necessarily a liberal practice. It is a basic secular practice to ensure democracy within a State. A democratic principle that allows Muslims to practice their faith with the liberty to decide how to do so. A democratic principle which many Muslims around the world are afforded, BUT not most.

There are only a few outspoken Muslim activists who make this distinction, and even they suffer for it.

The problem with ‘democracy’ as understood by the West, is that it cannot be translated to many eastern countries. The world learned its lesson when the United States “wanted to bring democracy” to Afghanistan by the way of invasion only causing more social and political destabilization. When has imperialism ever brought about peace?

The Pew Research Center has found that most Muslims, in nations where Islam is the dominating religion, in fact want Sharia Law to be enacted. That means the law of the land should be based on the religious doctrine of Islam; the divine law within the Quran. That means that both private and public life should be guided and led by the faith.

Some of these nations and their support for sharia law are:  Afghanistan (99%), Iraq (91%), Niger (86%), Malaysia (86%), Pakistan (84%), Morocco (83%), Bangladesh (82%), Egypt (74%), Indonesia (72%), Jordan (71%), Uganda (66%), Ethiopia (65%), Mali (63%), Ghana (58%), and Tunisia (56%).

While the practice of Sharia law varies within each nation, most Muslim countries make use of it in one way or another and their people are in favour of it.

Afghanistan, for example, legally enacts capital punishment for apostasy, purdah (segregation) on women, and imprisonment for homosexuality.

What does this mean? That the Pew Research Center uncovered how most Muslims in these nations approve of the state of affairs within their own countries.

In circling back to my concern with ‘respect’ and religion, do I really have to ask?

When I’m told that I must respect ones faith, I am not being told to respect a type of spirituality. I am being told that I need to respect social values and practices that go along with it. That I should respect values and practices which go against those that have been afforded to me. That I should respect values and practices of which I am not just opposed to, but which I’ve been both socially and intellectually taught to view as negative. Values and practices which have been statistically and scientifically proven to be detrimental to society as a whole.

BUT because these are religiously based, I am not allowed to say so.

Which takes me to my general point: Because I can understand a religion, does not mean I have to respect it.

Just to emphasize that I am not being bias, I have the same problem with the religion I myself grew up with; the christian-catholic faith.

While it has been found that Mexican Catholics are in a high opposition with the church, they are still morally and socially molded by their interpretation of the faith. With 81% of Mexicans identifying as catholic, women’s sexual health, including abortion, remains a heated debate nation wide, very much like, if not more so, the United States.

Unfortunately, Mexico City is the only place which fully grants women the right to abortions (under 12 weeks only) without being subject to a penalty. All while, in another 18 states, they could be subject to penalization. In the worst of cases, up to 30 years of imprisonment.

With epidemic-like rates of teen pregnancy and domestic abuse in poverty stricken communities, along the incompetence to provide proper sexual education and resources by the public education system, I cannot respect the faith based belief that women should not have access to an abortion clinic. Let alone, be punished for it. The social and economic impact of high rates of teen pregnancy in poverty, when they have not even concluded their secondary level education, is not only detrimental to them, but society as a whole.

Not only are women affected by the Catholic faith, but homosexuals are still viewed as morally corrupt by 55% of Mexicans.

It is one thing to ‘respect’ or “let live” another’s beliefs when they do not infringe on the basic rights and freedoms of others. When they do not intend to endanger one specific demographic. When they do not look to put one citizen or believer above another based on their adherence to the doctrine. If as an adult you still believe in Santa, that’s your prerogative. I’ll think your nuts and won’t respect it but, unless you harm someone for it, I don’t see the problem. I haven’t even touched the miracle/mystical side of religion.

But it is another thing entirely to ask me to respect beliefs that do those things.

I cannot respect a faith which does not respect those that leave it, but rather kills them for it. I cannot respect a faith that does not respect a women’s body, but rather asks her to cover it as a sign of ‘modesty’. I cannot respect a faith which does not respect women’s ability to control their health and ability to choose their future, but rather forces them to a life defined by one sperm and one egg. I cannot respect a faith  which does not respect an entire community’s nature, but rather asks for the restriction of their civil rights. I cannot respect a faith that would limit my own ability to have control over the direction of my life.

 

“So with all due respect”, I cannot, nor will I, respect that as it is in my absolute freedom to do so.

 

*For those curious as to my resulting artwork: my endevour to challenge the word ‘respect’ resulted in an installation where I represented in list significant events from the 20th and 21st Centuries in where literature had been burned for ideological or political reasons. From Harry Potter to the Christian Bible, I documented the process in which I recreated the act, cataloged the book covers, and jarred and planted the ashes in potted Hydrangea.

 

 

 

 

 

The Four Horsemen In Conversation: on philosophy, discourse, and the seeming infallibility of religion

This is a great video of great minds in discussion. In an in depth conversation of religion, philosophy, and the struggle for their cause; Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens open up earnestly about their work, their critics, and how they understand each other. It’s quite long and no action, so I suggest it as a podcast while you work, clean, cook, or do whatever you do.

I grew up in a spiritually Catholic environment and stopped practicing in my early teens. Before that, I already had begun to question my faith which caused me much trouble. When I moved to New York, I picked up Dawkins’ The God Delusion and every doubt I had was confirmed and reaffirmed. I never looked back. From there I began my research and since then, have engulfed myself in religious debate. This video is different in mood and context of which these men are known to present themselves. They are having an earnest and challenging conversation with each other. Often established as offensive and arrogant by pundits, this video honestly demonstrates the men behind the headlines.

I’ve been a long time fan of these men. Not because I hold similar ideas and convictions, I’ve become admirable to their intellectual tenacity and fearlessness towards being debated. Even if you are a believer of a specific organized religion or hold yourself to be an agnostic, I suggest you look at their work for the mere concept of being emotionally and intellectually stimulated in one capacity or another.

 

 

 

Why Support a Woman’s Right to Choose

I often find pro-life posts on my Facebook News Feed. It’s not surprising to me since I come from a highly catholic and conservative environment, while I myself am a lapsed one. This is a response to the rhetoric I find coming from that environment.

  1. The God factor: Often people will use religion as a reason as to why they oppose abortion. The language goes from something like, “The sanctity of life” to “Man is not God.” The problem with this argument is that man creates man. Whether you believe in God or not, we as biological-rational beings, choose (or not, but do) to make more of us. People choose to have children, or people have sex which results in a child. We are conscious of this. We know unprotected sex (can) = child. It’s science, biology, the fact of life and how animal in general multiplies. Therefore, to say that it was God’s doing, well…sure, but that would mean that man then, is not responsible for reproducing, which we are and we are aware of this. There’s no immaculate conception, and if you believe this happens, you’ve got bigger problems. Therefore, abortion is much of man’s decision as it to procreate. We are responsible for who we put on Earth. Which takes me to my next point.
  2. Shouldn’t be doing it if not ready: Yes, teenagers are not ready to be parents. Some adults are not ready to be parents. But guess what. It happens. It’s biology, hormones, and the way the world works. Never in the history of humanity has the repression of sex worked. To use this as an argument is to live in la-la land. Furthermore, this argument belittles the realities of the social world. Low income communities with lack of resources to sexual education and contraceptives, are the ones that suffer the most. This is also in part the government’s doing when there is maldistribution of resources, particularly for women in vulnerable domestic situations. To place full on responsability over the shoulders of a young girl from a low-income household where she could possibly have suffered abuse from a relative (which is statistically the probability), is, to me, offensive, insane, and detrimental to the well being of not only her, but society as a whole. She, herself, probably didn’t choose her own situation and she should not be punished because of it. It’s easy to place the blame on women and call them murderers. First, it’s a two way street; takes two to tango. Second, having a child is a serious responsibility. Forgive me, but I rather have a child spared the possibility of terrible life than have them be subjected to situations they didn’t choose themselves. The situation is much larger than a one night discrepancy. It’s called reality. This takes me to my next argument…
  3. They are being selfish, the child didn’t have a say: Well, children don’t ask to be conceived either. The people having them do (or don’t). I’m also sure, the child won’t choose their name, their education, their religion, their family, their nationality, their family’s income, their clothing, their government, their food, and basically anything else, until much later. If a woman, or couple, doesn’t believe that bringing up a child is the right thing for that child, or them, they shouldn’t have to. There’s many young women who have unplanned pregnancies and decide that it is simply not the right thing for anyone. Maybe she doesn’t have money, she was abused, she didn’t have the proper education, “god-forbid” she’s 14; the reasons don’t really matter and they shouldn’t have to be in horrible situations to have to argue why it is the right thing for them. When you have the child, you are responsible for that child’s survival. It’s serious business. If someone doesn’t want to raise someone else, they shouldn’t be coerced into it and neither should the child. There’s enough abandoned and abused kids in the world.

Lastly and more importantly, women deserve a safe environment where they are able to discuss their options without secrecy or fear of being personally attacked or judged. Making abortion clinics inaccessible and pushing stigma over the issue does not deter abortions as a whole. THIS IS A FACT. For example, after a Texas law restricting clinic abortions was pushed, clinics have started to receive calls from women looking for tips as to how to have a home abortion. This devastating fact has actually caused Texan home abortions to rise dramatically. This is unsafe for women, psychologically devastating and simply…terrible. They are forced to do something that no one woman actually wants to go through. No one in fact wants an abortion, but they choose to because, to them, it is their best option as they see it. Furthermore, especially in highly religious and conservative communities, women will often secretly try to find information through people and online, often fearing the social stigma that comes along with it. They are shamed into pretending nothing is occurring and don’t look for the proper support they need in a time such as this one. Pushing stigma and fear on women for the sake of an ideology is far more harmful to that woman than anything else that can or could happen in a situation where they are considering to take this route.

When people support a woman’s right to choose, it’s not that we are supporting death. We support the choice of rationality over ideology and freedom over coercion. We support the choice of safety over danger and comfort over authority. We support education and resources when needed, not an idea. We support the choice of a bright future no matter what the decision. That is what we are supporting.

Making a Case for the Open Critique of Religion

taken from solarviews.com
taken from solarviews.com

When I enter conversations about religion with friends, I often find myself leaving them with unshakable labels set upon me. Labels which I find both offensive and incorrect. Some of them include: closed minded, judgmental, stubborn, and somehow elitist. I am not going to attempt to make a case for my opinions on religion. But I will attempt to illustrate the problem with labeling me as such when I do make such attempt.

What I have found in my endeavor for open religious discourse is that the attempt itself appears futile. But here is my overall point; it shouldn’t be. Setting aside the religious versus non-believer arguments, the simple premise that religion should be an avoided topic, un-debatable, or even a sacred one, is mistaken. Here’s why: regardless of what you believe, you cannot deny that the world we live in is a social one. Everything that revolves our everyday is a product of ourselves. Science, government, economies, education, the family, gender roles, etc. If religious, you may argue that all of these are the result of an almighty god, what he (or she) set forth for us to endure. But we must break this down to the fact that these institutions and concepts of being and living are comprised of people. People make them what they are. The term ‘social construct’ is a social scientific one which accepts that everything beyond the natural sciences is a product of us.

Again, some of you may disagree with this because you believe that somehow everything was designed. But even if that were true, a fact remains: everything is open for critique. Politics, family life, government, economies, education, gender roles, etc. The role of media, the role of social interaction, the role democracy, the role of social movements; have all been to remodel and reshape how these institutions go from politics to truth, and vice versa. What begins as a conversation leads to a wider opinion of masses. This is how the social world works. Now, the problem with the labels set upon me when I talk about religion is that they stop that from happening. Yes, I am stubborn in a lot of ways; hard headed more like it. But I believe there is a misunderstanding of what my role in the conversation is. Yes, I am criticizing religion. That is the whole point of my interest in entering such a discussion. But the problem is that because I am doing so, I am inherently viewed as in the wrong. I ask the question then, why are we able to use the same tactics for politics and social rights, but not for religion? What would happen if democrats weren’t allowed to critique republicans (or vice versa) on the basis that it would be intolerant? What would happen if the suffrage movements were viewed as going against something sacred?

Some of the arguments that have been held against my wanting to challenge the conversation on religion include: tradition, spirituality, and comfort. Sociologist Gabriel Tarde, made the point to not confuse Tradition with Opinion. That something is traditional, does not mean it is opinion nor that it is free from it. Opinion is of present time and those who once held what is now traditional as opinion have come and gone. That Seppuku, or honor suicide, was once an ingrained traditional act by Japanese samuri, does not mean that it should be retained in the fabric of Japanese modern civil society. It was once viewed as a sacred and honorable act, we now view it significantly different. Had we followed holy books to the letter to present time (which generally doesn’t happen), our social world would be immensely catastrophic. Therefore to say that one cannot critique what is traditional seems senseless to me.

I’m also often criticized for critiquing what some consider purely spiritual (this is where the label of closed mindedness tends to come in). Yes, I do have problems with that argument. That you somehow feel an inward “blessing” from your religious beliefs does not take away from the fact that your belief is not yours. Sorry (not sorry) to say it. My dear Neo-Atheist heroes, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, always point out that what you believe in was most probably indoctrinated in you. Your religion is as much yours as is the political party you support. Yes, there is a type of emotional aspect that comes in to play as much as nationalism does. But you are as randomly a catholic, for example, as you are Mexican (I’m using my own background here). And it also is not coincidental that those two identities come hand in hand. Geography matters. Therefore, to say that I cannot critique something because it feels intangible to you is not a proper argument. That your behaviour was molded by the religious views of your parents, is not a personal spiritual concept. That in some cultures and religions, women still retain a second-class citizen role, is not a personal spiritual concept. So the argument that your experience is of personal spirituality; I simply don’t buy it.

Now, the one of comfort is a complicated one. It is often said that lack of belief is for the elite, while belief is for the downtrodden. I understand why this is often said. “Some people need it.” My response is: they need their community, their nation, and their government. We as people have built institutions with the purpose of facilitating life. We have reworked and reshaped economic models to better fit our survival. We have created governmental institutions to ensure our safety and civility. And we have created the concepts of family and friends to further support our private and increasingly individualistic lives. Of course these all need work, but to say that someone ‘needs’ religion, and it tends to be the poor or marginalized, I believe, is to undermine the deeper problems that are in those social groups. It is to accept or believe that they can’t be helped. When I am critiquing what you label was what someone needs, does not mean that I am being negligent to them. It means that I look to hold true what the roles of government, community and country are meant to be. It is not only about critiquing religion, it is about critiquing everything. If you believe they need it, the question then is: why? And then, we can get to work.

I’ll admit something, when talking about religion I do get heated and often emotional. I understand how those reactions come off as negative. I do need to control my temperament. But while for some this conversation seems pointless, it matters to me and many others. It matters not only as a general subject but as a personal one. Growing up in my community, I realized women often feared being chastised and reprimanded in a way men didn’t. I often found myself angered by this and at times rebelled. The concept of a fearful God haunted me when I stepped over lines, and the concept of a benevolent God simply offended me. By the time a let go of this split-personality God, I was able to take responsibility for myself and become more understanding of others. While it may seem contradictory to the religious, I became much more compassionate.

So, I will continue attempting to critique and debate religion. I believe it to not only be worth it, but necessary. And while I do so, if I continue to be labeled closed minded, judgmental, stubborn, and somehow elitist; so be it. But hopefully it won’t be for long.