Humans are social creatures with an inherent urge to belong and be understood.
It’s the content feeling of calm and acceptance that I never quite had around religious people.
I lived in an Indian space that often called Hindi and Tamil separate religions. I knew these things weren’t religions but for simplicity sake, you just called yourself Tamil so people understood the religious-culturally specific practices you adhered to.
Religious practices were such an interestingly scary experience for me. I mean there was this “God” I had to respect and fear. And there were many prayers and fasts that always seemed so unfulfilling and wasteful.
“I am not Tamil, I am Christian,” was another famously misunderstood ideology in our communities. People of the Christian faith reveled in finding their “one true lord and savior,” and making others believe that they should follow suit in either a very open or subtle way.
They (The Hindus and Christians) were in general, really nice people, extremely supportive at times but the religious aspects made them UGLY.
Religious fundamentalism just made me feel sad, voiceless and bullied into things I know I never quite belonged in.
As a child and teenager I realized that if I behaved like I had a religion and acted like I tolerated people and their shallow understanding of the divine then I fitted in perfectly.
They left me alone.
As I got older my mask began to drop, I became this borderline atheist.
I always came across people who told me that I don’t like religion because I was exposed to it the “wrong way.” And yet when I gave them a chance to show me the “right way” it always seemed as if the “right way” abided by their narratives.
It became evident that most religious people were just living in their factional microcosms of their own truth, support systems and comfort zones, excising any form of criticism and respect for opinions outside of theirs, all under the guise of “tolerance.”
My experience with society made me understand that “God” was an outer projection of our inner thoughts and emotional states.
I began to believe that there were many “Gods,” each of which stemmed from our own emotional interpretations of it, and the high we got from others sharing our belief systems.
Religion was an immense support system and coping mechanism for some, when turned into a collective thought process. But it was a community of thought, I could never quite be in sync with.
Fast forward to 2016, I had a cancer scare, and my unintelligent self decided to go public with it and the news of my impending chemotherapy.
I felt that most religious people, though well-meaning, just provided me with toxic positivity.
I refused to have a Christian pastor pray for me, and the pastor beguiling asked, “Why?”
It was simple, to me he was just an ordinary man, high on his own opiate that made him believe that his words would improve my thought process and “heal” me but it wouldn’t.
And don’t get me started on the Hindus telling me what prayers I should do.
I called it toxic positivity because it was an empty generic pick me upper that could be likened to divine heroine. I could have taken it all in but would happen when I came off the high?
It would have been nice if people connected with me rather than project their own coping mechanisms onto me.
I knew they meant well, but I promised myself that if I ever got cancer again, I'd rather die in silence!
In the present, I always seem to have one or two people who try to silence me every time I criticize religion or speak up about my own life and experiences with it. It’s always tough when people do that because it takes me back to moments of voicelessness in my life. Perhaps I can come across as brash and aggressive when dealing with it but I always mean well, and I totally understand that the aggression comes from the years of voicelessness.
I am not an atheist.
It’s just that I understand “God” through different facets of life, be it nature, the quantum verse, emotional states, thoughts, coincidence, triumphs, failures, design flaws, malevolence, chaos and the unknown.
“God” is not perfect.
I feel that there isn’t a religion that entertains this framework of understanding and one that is willing to have critical discussions around it even though many claim to do so.
I cannot belong to a school of thought which affirms that “God” is solely good, pure and an all intelligent creator that has a plan for us all. I can’t believe that it is some entity I need to appease by worshipping and spreading its message.
But I understand why humans have a tendency to do this. We tend to put labels on things and try to give meaning to everything because if we don’t then we start to lack purpose. We need to believe that there is something out there that gives a damn about us, and has a plan for us because that instills a degree of self-worth and motivation.
Who wants to just believe they are minute particles of random chaos orbiting a ball of gas?
I learned that “God” is good and bad, and that these two variables are more of a grey area rather than a black and white one.
A part of myself will always remain angry at religious people, but I can constructively take that anger and use it to create less oppressive, non-rigid and emotionally positive systems of self-worth for my future generations.
To the minority of non-religious people who are always silenced and misunderstood…
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