A big pet peeve I have with my other fellow occupants of this ‘pale blue dot’ is how they make assumptions based on opinions other than their own. They don’t investigate the other side of the equation, and prefer to yell from the top of their perch with a megaphone rather than walk over to their neighbor and have a real conversation. They reinforce these behaviors because they never are around people who have differing world views.
I hate trying to debate, work, study or even hang out with these types of folks.
However, I realized yesterday that I might be in danger of becoming one of these people.
Let me explain.
In college, I had a veritable cornucopia of people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints around me all the time. They carried signs with graphic pictures of aborted fetuses, or cried out for Marriage Equality, or sold baked goods so they could raise enough money to restore a dilapidated but well-loved old building.
I was in constant awe of what I saw and who I learned from. Even if I wanted to avoid them, I didn’t have much of choice. In all honesty, these interactions have been worth more to me than the price of my tuition.
I guess what I’m kind of afraid of now that I’ve graduated is that I’ll just gravitate towards people who very closely align with me, therefore creating this water-and-oil type of relationship which keeps me at a safe distance from all the “crazies” out there who I might learn something uncomfortable from. It’s a natural human instinct to seek out people whose company you enjoy and who are similar in some ways, but I think it’s part of human evolution to never stop challenging who you are and why.
I never want to make broad generalizations or draw conclusions based on what I’ve read about some controversial group on Reddit or heard from a friend, because that would make me a hypocrite when I chastise people for the same exact thing.
The answer to this came to me when I was driving home from work. I see this Church on my commute home every day, but I’d never even dreamed of going into it. As best as I can tell, it’s a hispanic Pentecostal church. When I hear the word “Pentecostal Christian” the first impulse I have is to shudder, and the second to say something snarky.
Have I ever been to a Pentecostal church? No. Have I ever talked to Pentecostal people? No.
Chances are I would never purposely seek out and talk to these people and certainly not ask them questions about what they believe, and what matters to them in their lives.
But why the non-existent Hell not? Isn’t that why these people go to church in the first place—to share what they believe with each other?
After I became an atheist, and I got dragged to Catholic church with my family, I looked at everything with completely new eyes. The service, the songs, the chanted creeds; none of it felt the same anymore and I was free to examine it and shape my perception in ways I had never dared before.
So, I’m going to go to a hispanic Pentecostal church this Sunday because I want to shake up my anthropological snow globe. I know I’ll be a fish out of water, especially since Spanish is not my first language and I’m, as Weird Al Yankovic would say, whiter than sour cream. But I don’t give a fuck. I could learn something, and at the very least I’ll have pushed myself out of my comfort zone for a couple of hours. And I love a good challenge.
My plan is every Sunday in July, I will study some new group of people who I wouldn’t normally be around and then report back my findings.
Wish me luck!