There are two ways to view the world. You can view it through the eyes of a someone who takes everything on faith or you can through the eyes of a skeptic. This relatively easy decision has ramifications greater than many are willing to believe, life-altering consequences. With that very decision, a series of other decisions must be made with it. Do you choose to believe everything you hear or question things (or, the third option, you can choose to believe what you want to hear and question what you don't)? Do you choose to shut out all differing opinions or do you choose to open your mind to varying worldviews and seriously try to at least understand them (or, do you choose to do this with selective opinions)?
Faith and skepticism are often terms applied with religion, but not religion exclusively. As I have stated before, I am a proud skeptic. I question everything that I hear, even things that I don't agree with. My analytical nature has made me seem quite cynical to others and at times too mature for my own good. Sometimes it's exhausting. I wouldn't take it back for the world, though. When I see other people who cannot open their minds and their hearts, I am only more reminded how of great of a gift my skepticism really is.
Today I told my grandmother that I'm an atheist. That's right. After a full two years of questioning my belief in God, I finally outright said my position. I think she's been putting the pieces together but nonetheless, I stayed silent on the issue even though she rambled about it. I wish that I could have been more articulate but I was too nervous to form words. My sister applied to a Catholic school and got in so of course the conversation came up.
Of course, my grandma made a big deal about it. She kept trying to make me promise that I would pray because God would answer my prayers. I said I would. Then she tried to blame my mom for not taking me to church enough.
I'm glad that I told her, even though I am still stressing out about it. I know that she loves me but she will continue to shove it down my throat. That's just the way she is. Unlike my mother, she won't even try to see why I'm thinking the way I'm thinking or see where I'm coming from. She just sees that I don't believe the way she does and that I have to.
Of course, if she did, she would see that I would need solid proof or at least a string of events. She might even see how fine I am without believing in a god and how I do not have that same need. She then asked me what I would do if I met and fell in love with a Catholic boy. I told her that I would discuss things with him and that I might sort things out, but I wouldn't let him shove it down my kids' throats (they would have to make their own decisions about it). Personally, I don't see myself falling in love with someone who has so many contrary viewpoints to mine (I wouldn't be very cool if he didn't want to use birth control with me or wanted to donate a significant portion of our money to the Catholic Church).
I have yet to meet an open-minded devout person. I've talked to one on the Internet a couple of times but I've never actually met one (before everyone goes all stranger danger on me, I read her story on the Internet and I've had a discussion about it a couple times. Religion is a big part of it and the writer is a devout Catholic. I've learned a lot about Catholicism from her). Religion seems to influence their whole worldview in general and the way that they think.
My maternal family members seem to have a very closed-off, narrow-minded way of thinking. If it doesn't make sense to them or goes against what they believe, they won't hear it. Both my grandmother and my aunt have denied the legitimacy of GAD and told me just to "stop worrying" (what kind of logic is that? That's like telling a person with depression to "be happy").
The problem with this kind of thinking- this narrow-minded, faith-driven emotional reasoning is that it leaves people gullible and with poor critical thinking skills. They are also extremely gullible and will believe anything that they hear. Anything that the priest tells them, they'll take for granted. They take these beliefs to heart and then they just can't let go of them.
The beauty of being a skeptic means that while you question everything, you are also open-minded possibilities. With faith, you are close-minded and can only accept the few things you hear but that still fits into what you believe.
Life with that kind of thinking is a path. There's only one option, one way, and its the one that fits with your beliefs. No one else fits. Skepticism and open-mindedness open your mind. Under that way of thinking, life is a maze with a variety of paths. There are multiple truths. It gives you a greater understanding of the world and a greater sense of self. It's like color as opposed to black-and-white.
If I try to explain that to my grandmother, she wouldn't believe me and she wouldn't understand. She might say that she does but she wouldn't understand.
I can't change the way my grandmother thinks. I can, hopefully, make a difference to the people in my own life and attempt to remain the way I am now.