Faith

You've gotta have faith?
Image by Roger Smith via Flickr

THE FOLLOWING ISN’T A RANT.  IT’S AN OBSERVATION.  I NORMALLY DON’T GET INTO RELIGIOUS MATTERS, BUT I FELT THE NEED TO SHARE.

I was at the Minnesota State Fair this past weekend and saw the Muslim volunteers handing out the “Understanding Islam” cards to help promote greater understanding of their religion and reduce the seemingly rampant Islamaphobia that is running throughout the US.  Earlier that morning, I’d watched the news piece about the same “Understanding Islam” volunteers that showed some Minnesota residents were not being very kind to these people. A man approached one volunteer, snatched a card, tore it into pieces and tossed it at the volunteer’s feet. When the reporter asked him why he did that, the man responded, “It’s a religion of hate, isn’t it?”  Back to me at the fair,  several hours later.  The same volunteer was standing across from the fairgrounds, handing out the cards.  As 20-30 people walked by him, I turned to him, took a card, and thanked him for being there.  I hope I improved his day for just one second. He was just doing what was right for his religion.

Religion of hate?  There is no religion that is a religion of hate.  Just as there are Islamic extremists, there are also growing numbers of extremists in many religions, including Christianity, that are ruining the religion’s image.  If any of us continue to dislike someone because of their religion, we’re essentially becoming our own enemy.  Can you imagine what it would be like to be standing somewhere in Iraq, Egypt, or China and trying to hand out “Understanding Christianity” cards?  It’d be awfully tough…but we need to remember that we’re not there.  We’re here in a nation that promotes and ENCOURAGES freedom of religious belief.  Many of our descendants came here to escape the very religious persecution some of us are doing to the followers of Islam.

We’ve gotten things wrong.  I could go on and on about flaws in many religions, but we’ve moved away from loving and respecting people (which every religion says is mandatory) to judging and hating because they don’t believe in “our God.”  Who cares?  We can’t judge them.  Any religious figure will tell you that.  We just need to love them.  We’ve started making religion and politics a one-stop shop and in a society of mixed races and religions, we can’t afford to make a mistake like that.  This happened recently in Kosovo from 1986-1998 when nationalism and separatism led to rising tensions between the Serbs and Albanians that resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides.  What’s the lesson to learn?   Stop confusing America the country with being a Christian.  To be American isn’t to be Christian.  It never was.  To be American is to be free and it’s about time we start remembering that.

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I didn’t shave my legs for this.

'Shaving' with cream and a spoon
Image by suzettesuzette via Flickr

Lauren in CT wrote:

Sean,  I seem to have a dilemma.  I don’t shave my legs and guys don’t like it.  I am 20, have fine blonde hairs that are barely visible, but yet, guys seem to be turned off that I don’t shave my legs.  I just find it a time consuming, consumer driven marketing ploy to make women feel beautiful so I stopped doing it.  I still shave my armpits though.  Should I go back to shaving my legs too or am I right in doing what I want to do?

Lauren

Lauren,

While you are right in doing what you want to do, let me pose this a different way.  Would you think it was normal if you were the only one shaving and everyone else had beards and leg/armpit hair?  We live in a society (and this is NOT a modern fad) that equates shaving to cleanliness and cleanliness to health and better living.  There may be people out there that are okay with a woman with hairy legs (just as there may be women out there that want a man with a full beard), but the truth is, there aren’t many.  Another question, do you shave your armpits but not your legs?  I don’t see the difference there..

Anyway, you can do what you wish, but you should be also okay with others not being okay with what you’ve chosen to do.  Sometimes when we do things outside the norm, people notice.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll start a revolution and everyone will start walking around looking like fuzzy French people.
Sean

Under the rug

Valentine's Day Debt Protest 2009

Mackenzie wrote:

Sean, I am in a crisis or sorts.  I think my boyfriend is hiding something.  It’s not cheating, a secret child, or being gay-it’s debt.  I don’t have serious proof, but I think he’s embarrassed of it and as a result, hiding it from me.  He’s gotten calls from collectors, I saw his mail stack of bills that are seemingly unpaid, and he is always broke and feels bad about it.  His parents are also not doing well health-wise and he is helping them pay for their bills.  The bigger issue is that we’d began talking about marriage just before I started being suspicious.  He doesn’t know I think he’s hiding something, but I’d rather know now than find out later.  I do want to marry this man and I think that no matter what life throws at us, we can tackle together.  How do I go about getting him to open up?

Mackenzie

Mackenzie

Debt is like glass.  It can be harmless.. but when the system for handling it is broken, or if someone tries to sweep it under the rug, it isn’t long before people start getting hurt.  It can destroy relationships and families, we’ve seen it take down businesses and entire countries.  Debt sucks.

You love this man and want him to be open about things.  You didn’t speak of any other relationship issues and he is doing a good thing and helping his parents, so things are good, right?  I fully agree with having open communication.  Debt, income, relationship “stuff”, health issues, and job issues should all be part of open communication in a relationship.  A team is only as great as it’s weakest link and if you two are open and honest about everything, there isn’t anything you can’t tackle.  If you’re sure that you want to tackle this possible debt issue, then attempt to have a talk with him.  Explain that you are in things for the long haul and if he honestly feels that HE is also in it for the long haul, then you two should work together to get rid of that debt.

I know what it’s like to not have tons of spending money.  With car loans, student loans, child support, etc., it can be difficult to have the extra money at the end of the paycheck to do things like vacation or things like that.  Why do you think he feels bad that he’s usually broke? Do you find yourself paying for everything or does he go half and half?  If he is scraping by but still making an effort and you are doing things like going on vacations with your friends and shopping twice a week, it may weigh heavily on him because he feels you and he aren’t on the same level.  If you’re both in the same boat (but he has debt), then work together to tackle the issues at hand before you get further down the road (marriage?) and find that the hill of debt is now a mountain.

Commitment is a powerful thing.  If you are both committed to making things work, you’ll be successful.  If his pride or stubborn independence keeps him from being fully committed, then you won’t succeed..no matter how hard YOU may try.

Sean