Everywhere But Home

News and musings from wherever my crazy life takes me. My body may be back in Illinois, but at least for now, my mind is still in Mongolia.

The Obligatory Post-Election Political Musings That Ramble Far from the Election

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If America suffers from low voter turnout, that fact was certainly not reflected in my Facebook feed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many posts on the same topic; on election day, I think I saw at most five posts that didn’t urge people to go out and vote – and that includes posts by friends overseas. Great job making your voices heard.

I’m especially proud of the country for the steps that it has made towards equality in states like Maine and Maryland. Equality is something we promised to everyone, not just the straight people.

I also believe that you don’t have to approve of gay marriage to allow it. You can respect an opinion, a lifestyle, an identity without agreeing with it. I certainly don’t believe that the world was created in seven days or that Adam rode dinosaurs, but if that’s what you think, I won’t argue with you. All we would do is get angry at and frustrated with each other; I doubt either of us would change our minds.

About a month ago, a friend made the following post on Facebook:

I believe God made two genders, man and woman, to be partners in this life. Don’t tell me I’m naive or uninformed when I respect the difference between them. I will not judge you, but I expect not to be judged either.

I don’t agree with her that there are only two valid genders, or that one of each is the only valid form of partnership. But I respect her right to that belief, and her right not to be made less of because of it. To me, a promise not to judge someone means more than grudging tolerance or an I-won’t-condemn-you-outright-but-I-don’t-have-to-be-nice-to-you attitude. It means treating that person as you would any other, allowing them the right to make their own choices and live their own lives, even if you consider them to be mistakes. If her promise not to judge others is that sincere, then I respect her highly for that.

I have always taken offense to the notion that America is, or should be, a Christian nation. America is a nation full of Christians; that is certainly true. But it is also a nation full of Muslims, and Hindus, and Jews, and Buddhists, and atheists. That there are more Christians does not it itself make their beliefs any more intrinsically valid. Yes, our laws are based on many of the principles that Christianity espouses, but the fact is that most major religions teach those same principles: Treating others as you’d like to be treated. Not killing other people just because you can. Respect for your fellow man. Love. Religion doesn’t make you a good person, or a good citizen. I know plenty of atheists who live more strongly by their own moral codes than lots of Christians. Thus, the idea that religiosity qualifies a person to be present holds no weight with me. You can be a born-again Christian and a hypocrite; you can run for office with the intent to impose your interpretation of an ancient book on millions, even though you have no idea how the legal system works.

As author K.A. Thompson pointed out on her blog, freedom of religion means there is also freedom from religion. It means that you are free to practice as you choose, but not that you are free to impose those practices or beliefs upon others. So if you believe that abortions are a sin, don’t get one. Don’t tell some poor young woman who can’t afford another mouth to feed, and whose circumstances you don’t know, that she can’t get one. And especially don’t deny her access to contraception, either. If you believe that her choices violate God’s laws, I’m pretty sure you also believe that He will punish her for it. Let that be His prerogative, not yours.

I should point out that you can be religious without believing that all people should be bound by the laws of your religion. I know plenty of people who do – this girl from my high school, for instance:

I’ve heard Christian stress over the future of our country because of the passing of laws that go against Christianity. What kind of message does that send to other when we freak about these things? It perpetuates the impression that people have to fit a certain mold in order to fall in love with Jesus. Christ was about love, not restriction. What good is a follower if they only follow because they have no other choice?

Her point differs slightly from mine, but they’re two sides of the same coin, really. Banning abortions, gay marriage, and contraception doesn’t reduce the practice of abortion, homosexuality, or sex that you consider unKosher. It doesn’t win your religion any converts, either. All it does is spread discrimination.

Way to go, Maine and Maryland. Good for you.

This is, without a doubt, the most controversial post I’ve written on here, but it was something I thought needed to be said. If you want to voice your own opinion, please do so, but play nice. You’ve the right to your own opinion, remember, but not to abuse others for theirs.

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Author: everywherebuthome

Linguist. Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. Expat in Mongolia. Writer. Scout, dancer, gymnast, equestrienne.

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