Beliefs And How To Respect Them
What Defines A Belief
In the simplest of terms a belief is an opinion. It won't have any solid evidence to it's existence and will be entirely built on your faith in that belief. I can believe that there is some mystical force involved in the universe or I can believe there isn't. Either way there isn't any actual proof one way or the other that either one of those options is right or wrong.
A belief is an opinion and I believe that, as long your beliefs do not attempt to change anyone's life against their will, that you are entitled to it. You are allowed to believe that something like gay marriage or eating meat is morally wrong but as long as you aren't the one getting married or having a hamburger than it really shouldn't be your concern. In the United States of America most of us are fortunate enough to govern our own lives and I've never understood why so many people have decided to use that opportunity to govern everyone else's.
As a side comment to the above paragraph, I do believe there is an exception. It is acceptable to always challenge the belief of anyone who plans to do harm to themselves or others in a physical or emotional sense. Just because someone does not believe in your idea of a higher power does not mean they are harming themselves.
As an example, I never agree with anyone who says they are fat. My idea of fat is someone who is so obese that it poses an immediate threat to their health. My response to anyone at an average weight or lower is simply: "no, you aren't." and I will usually go as far as asking strangers to back my opinion. My response to anyone at an above average weight is: "I don't think so, but what do you plan to do about it?" I will always challenge that belief because of the threat agreeing with it might pose. If someone believes they are fat and are given an outside absolution than they run the risk of becoming anorexic. Average or below average weight people will only need to be convinced that they aren't fat. You can't simply do this with the above average weight people because chances are higher that they will be told this. The average person will remember one negative comment compared to a hundred positive ones. I ask what they plan to do about it so I can point them in a safe direction: "Eat healthy and/or exercise properly." If they chose not to take my advise than that is their choice like it is my choice not to listen to them complain about their weight again.
When Our Opinions Are Valid
An opinion will only ever be valid when it is well thought out and, most importantly, asked for. There is a very fine line between me asking what you believe in and you telling me unwarranted. If I ask what you believe in than that means I care and that I am interested in the answer. I do not have the right to tell you that you are wrong as long as there isn't harm to anyone. I do not have the right to tell you that any opinion you have that would impede on someone else's rights are wrong. But I do have the right to tell you that any actions you do that would impede on someone else's rights are wrong. I really don't care if you think abortions are a sin or that owning guns in my own defense is barbaric but as soon as you take action against someones right to either than you have lost your opinion by attempting to make it a fact.
In the United States, especially, most of us are told from birth that we are special. That we are truly one of a kind and that we matter on an extremely individual level. And that is why I believe we are one of the laughing stocks of the world. Why our stereotype is loud, obnoxious and hypocritical. Our lack of unity results in our turmoil and the rest of the world does take notice. See now whether you agree with that statement or not does not change the fact that it is an invalid opinion. It was uncalled for and I know I offended quite a few people by making it. But how does that make you feel? Do you feel that you were violated? Do you feel that because I am just the thoughts of the writer in this article that you don't have the opportunity to share how you feel (outside of a comment on the internet) and that is unfair to you? Now is that right of me to do that to you? Is it right of anyone to do that to anyone else?
That is when our opinions are valid, when they are asked for and when they are concise.
An Unpopular Opinion
I would like to say I wrote this article purely out of the hope that it would change peoples' views and actions on beliefs for the better but I would be lying. This article began as a rant and it took me a few hours to collect myself to make it this civil. On April 4th, 2014 was my twentieth birthday and I spent it avoiding many of the people who love and care for me because I do not believe that my birthday is something to celebrate and I haven't actively celebrated it in over ten years.
I see birthdays as a by-product from the invention of calendars. Now, I am not saying I don't celebrate anyone's birthday, I just don't celebrate my own and I believe that I have that right. I am not preaching my views during anyone else's birthday parties trying to bring anyone into my way of thinking. In fact, I'm usually one of the people trying to make it better. I care about their birthdays because they care about their birthdays and that is enough of a reason to try and make it is as good as possible.
I have my opinion and I found out rather quickly that most people will not accept it and let me have my peace. I went through a couple years of arguing before I just stopped telling people when my birthday was all together so I could hope it would just pass without notice. I'm convinced that my argument affects how people view their own birthdays so they make it difficult for me afterwards.
The argument is always the same:
"Why do you avoid people on your birthday?" Because I don't celebrate it and people seem to have an issue accepting that.
"Why don't you celebrate your birthday?" Because I don't view it as an occasion to celebrate.
"What don't you like about your birthday?" Nothing, really, I'm pretty neutral to the literal date but the people who celebrate it have made it a frustrating time of year.
"Why does it frustrate you when people celebrate it?" Because it's time, effort, and money going into something I don't believe in that's FOR me? I don't understand it, it is like giving a Christian boy a Bar Mitzvah.
"But how come when he/she acknowledged your birthday you were fine with it but when so-and-so acknowledged it you got mad?" Because he/she didn't know my views on my birthday so I can't be mad at their lack of understanding. I got mad at so-and-so because so-and-so is well aware of my view points and decided that their own satisfaction is worth more than my comfort.
"How did they decide their own satisfaction is worth more than your comfort?" Telling me Happy Birthday on purpose is like serving ham to a Kosher family who you know is Kosher just because you made it for them. Just because in the average world it is seen as a kind act does not mean that it automatically applies to me. The effort is recognized but not appreciated. And then they get offended.
"But they are showing that they care for you." If they really cared for me like they say they do than they would do as I ask and not celebrate my birthday. It saves everyone time, money, and effort with the added bonus of still giving me what I want.
"I don't agree with your view." I don't care.
I've been having this same ridiculous argument for over a decade and from now on I'm going to send them to read this instead of having it. This is the frustration I have to live with over something as unimportant as choosing not to celebrate a particular day of the year.
If you do find that you have an issue accepting someone else's beliefs than you should be relieved because I offer a solution. My solution is to let it go and assume everyone is just as devout as you are. Do you believe you can so easily be convinced that it would only take someone telling you that you are wrong to change your views?
So, please, next time someone of a different religion asks to pray for him/herself at your table. Let them.
Please, next time you see a gay couple holding hands. Let them.
Please, next time someone tells you they are going to hurt themselves or someone else. STOP THEM. It doesn't even have to be you who stops them, tell someone who will stop them, but you have to start the progress.
It is easy. Live your life the way you want and let everyone else do the same. Don't call anyone fat.