Sunday, June 05, 2005

Raining in Hawaii

Well, it’s pouring rain here. And I like it. It probably won’t last. I love the daily rain in tropical islands.

I am still getting tons of letters from people all over the United States. Ira says that approx. 1.7 million people listen. (Ira wrote and said they have gotten possibly more comments on this weekend's show than any other -- I haven't asked yet if it's more positive or negative.)

So, I can’t speak about the general opinion. But the letters to me are really positive. Wow, I am so fascinated by everyone’s stories. So many people who feel the same way. Only a few begging me not to “let go of God.” Most are supportive and from people who feel exactly the same way.

You know, when I first “let go of God” I felt it was a private thing, something I didn’t need to share with anyone. But now, as I see what religion is doing in our culture and in our politics, I think we’ve all just got to be a lot more out-spoken about how we feel. I remember being hesitant at first, when people said religious things around me, even benign things like…”Well, it will all work out for the best.” I would just say nothing. I would simply joke to myself “Yes, that’s just what Hitler said…” But now, I do say things like that. Or I say, “Well, I don’t believe that is always the case, but I know what you mean. “ Or something like that. I am proud of being a woman without superstitions, to me it’s liberating, nothing to be ashamed of. I think of it as an achievement, and I’m not going to be quiet about it.

I got a lot of letters from people who were raised in a religion and then when they were around 12, they saw through it all and left. In fact, most of my own friends had this exact experience. I think they are fascinated by how I could have believed for so long. I think it’s a combination of the following:

1.) I needed to believe emotionally and I didn’t want to NOT believe that there was something there that cared about me.

2.) I didn’t think about it deeply. I dipped into my belief when I needed it or when it made certain circumstances more tolerable or more “poetic” and then I went back to a benign skepticism when I didn’t need it.

3.) I had a serious lack of science education. I would latch on to seemingly scientific ideas about “energy” or “the power of intention” or “synchronicity.” I just didn’t have the critical thinking skills or the basic scientific knowledge to not be vulnerable to lots of ideas that seemed to make sense if you didn’t look into it too much.

So, I was never a big believer to begin with. I mean, more than my friends. In some ways, loosing my faith wasn’t the big deal. It was on the other end, it was in accepting myself as an evolved animal on a planet in a vulnerable fathomless abyss. And after you got over the horror of it, the deep realization that we’re merely random flowers blooming in a sea of minerals, then it was all so different. That impact was immensely greater for me. It made me appreciate each day, each moment so much more. It made me grieve for injustice in a whole new way. It made me truly afraid and appreciative. My investment in my own life grew and my concern for others plight increased.

Anyway, most of the letters I’ve gotten are from people who feel the same way I do. And that just makes me feel great – obviously. Thank you so much people!

The letters I got from people who were upset and angry – well… Many of them started out the same way, something like, “I know you think people like me are stupid, and I can tell you even enjoy putting us down.” One person said, “Obviously you get off on humiliating others.” Get off? Get off on humiliating others? Another person started their letter, “I bet you feel pretty good about yourself right now, stomping all over the sacred book that most of us hold dear.” Or something like that. Anyway, all day yesterday I was thinking, “Well, was I gloating? Do I ‘get off’ on this?” I felt I really didn’t. I didn’t do this rashly. It’s not the only topic I’ve taken on. I don’t make my living from it. I have lots of dear relatives who are believers. I tried not to be condescending.

Then I thought, “Well what if I WAS ‘getting off' on it?” What difference would that make to the truth? If someone were attacking me as a non-believer, I wouldn’t -- first thing -- right off the bat, accuse them of enjoying disagreeing with me. Or of happily humiliating me. I would try to counter them with the facts and I would keep my feelings about their state of mind while attacking me to myself. It’s beside the point.

I didn’t know what an ad hominum attack was until a few years ago. Which is horrible because I was a high school debater and my dad was a lawyer and I should have known about it. But basically it means when you attack the character of your opponent as a way of arguing for your view. It’s such a basic thing. It’s sort of what my parents did the whole time I was growing up. “Well he’s an idiot.” Or “Why would listen to THAT guy, everyone knows he’s nuts.” “You are angry right now” and so basically everything you say has no merit. Or I even think of old arguments with a particular old boyfriend where every time I brought up something disagreeable he began to attack me on “when “ I brought it up, or “how” I brought it up or my “tone” when I brought it up. Everything became about everything else and not the facts of the case.

I suppose this is so obvious to everyone in the world, but it sure wasn’t to me. I mean, until a few years ago.

Well, I am going to try to post something every day. I can’t write about my job, clearly. But I can write about everything else. Now it’s stopped raining and Mulan and I are going for a swim before my work starts for the day. Yippee! A seven a.m. swim, what could be better?

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