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TheBluegrassSkeptic

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You know, I do hate the term atheist.

 

I really hate it as much as the term religious, Christian, Muslim, black, white, Caucasian, Indian, Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative. I find though that if I don't apply a label (and in the past I have not), everyone else always does it for me. EVERYONE. It disenfranchises who I am, and also disenfranchises who they are. I am not saying we should ignore what makes us who we are, but need to accept what we are, and not redefine other people's identities. Accept them.

 

I know, you are thinking, But, just don't talk about hot topics of any kind and you won't have the issue of being labeled.

 

First, I love discussion, and even IF I managed to avoid hot button topics, people around me will not be able to help but notice I don't attend church. As soon as I kindly explain I am not interested to a Jehovah Witness or the Baptist missionaries on my doorstep, I am labeled. Either I'm lost, an atheist, or something along that line, but surely not a believer since I refused to talk about it.

Still, despite all this, come this New Year (yes I do set goals and keep them), I will try to once again drop the label, and not partake of any giving of them either. People are just that, people. Labels are more than divisive, on some levels I would say they are a form of cruelty.

 

I go so far as to say they are cruel because what happens when you apply a label?

 

You separate yourself from the rest of the world, fellow humanity, and that is an aggressive thing to do. I don't consider myself apart from humanity, really. Even when folks self identify as a Christian or Tea Bagger, etc.., I still am willing to pay my share of taxes to help them get that break in housing, tax credit, whatever. They need a donation, I will help if it is within my power to do so. And by this behavior I get labeled: Liberal, Democrat, Socialist, Communist, Humanist, among other things. It stings, and ten years ago, that sting would have affected me to the point that I wouldn't dare even speak to someone who lived in certain types of neighborhoods or lived in ways I felt were personally inappropriate. Automatically I would exclude them from my life, and disregard their need.

 

See, these labels are not just about words, they are about fear and prejudice. It's about exemplifying the differences between us and using those differences as an excuse to receive entitlements the other does not receive. Instead of addressing their fears, we encourage them to blossom further. When I truly listen, I'm talking about more than words here, but the empathic elements interwoven inside their message, you often will find the solution to the problem at the same time. Labels prevent this process entirely. Further than that, these labels, no, let's call them for what they are -- Divisions -- these divisions breed ignorance, hate, anger, and violence.

 

My bottom line here is that my differences do not define my care and empathy for others, but when I use that label: Atheist? It is assumed I am redefining my empathy based on our differences. Which, if the other party would stop their labeling for a few minutes, they would see, hear, and FEEL that coming from me is not a desire to withhold myself, but to invite myself into their lives further.

One thing I am absolutely NOT guilty of is refusing to listen. I know I have my memes on here and hotly written blogs, but if someone wants to discuss with me the issue at hand, I am always here with open ears. I won't always be able to agree, and probably not always be able to understand, but I do try to let the other side of the coin present their side, and I do my best to clear the way for a human level type of connection. I want to know you. I want to feel you. And even if I don't get to, I still care about you.

 

So, come January 1st, I'm not an atheist. I'm not an Independent. I'm just a woman, mother, and ... oh, shit those are labels too, huh.. Fuck it then... I'm human.

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Guilty. Very very guilty. I've never made that association with the label and fear but I'm starting to see your point. And after reading this I'm recommited to listening. What do you do when your instincts tell you this guy's a con? I see a lot of that. I also see some real stuff. There's a guy I wish I could show you, show everyone. He facinates me but he's crazy and I'm sure unreachable. He's a street person with all of his belongings in a shopping cart. If he was in a movie it would take the make-up artist hours to achieve this look. I really don't know why I'm telling you about this person. later Zomberina

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When my instincts tell me this guy's a con? I politely say I'm not biting, don't really attack their character persay, but leave it at the content's fault and not the speaker. ;) 

 

As far as the street fellow, all you've told me is that he lives out of a cart and is very , very, haggard? Does he preach? Does he need a social worker (not because he preaches, but because of the cart)? There are proactive things you can do to get to the source of who the person is. If someone is going on and on about God, tune out the God part and listen to what God is supposedly doing. God gives me solace is a common theme I hear, and most everyone I've encountered that focuses on God's comfort and solace? They're struggling emotionally. God forgives sin and wants you to join us in Heaven theme? Usually scared of death and mortality in general plagues their mind a lot. There are ways to hear the real message, it just takes patience (and a lot of humming through the Jesus saves rants).

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I've tried to approach this guy. No way, aint gonna happen, he won't even make the slightest eye contact. He rambles a lot but I've never heard a distinguishable phrase or sentence. To me he seems to be completely crazy. The cops do what ever they have to in order to avoid him I'm sure. Besides, I'm not sure he's ever commited a crime. The only time you see him is in the alley, and normaly you only see his shopping cart because he's curled up behind a dumpster. I used to have an automotive shop in a less than desirable part of town. It had a fenced in storage area I called my bone yard. He used to camp out there fairly often. There were parts cars he could get in when the weather turned bad. A few low end resturants were in this area and a lot of his meals obviously came from their dumpsters. I would watch this guy from a window sometimes an hour or more. It was like observing a wild animal at a zoo. Forget about trying to comunicate. I watched him undress one afternoon. After several layers he was nude. I couldn't believe his physique. He is chieseled, like you see in a body builder magazine, maybe even the cover. He is very very black, darkest complexion I've ever seen. I guess I'm telling you all this because I saw him recently after 8 or 9 years and it's made me think about him again. I closed my shop in 05 and was in that area the other day. Just happen to glance down the alley and saw a shopping cart. Made a block, turned around and came down that alley and it was him! Time has stood perfectly still! He is living the exact  same life. How are you suppose to feel when you see him after all these years and all these wonderful changes you've made in you life and all these wonderful things your friends say and all these wonderful plans you have. So What--Who fucking cares? Man I've got dogs that have it better than him. How wonderful and fair is that? People make me want to vomit or fight when they put that cheerful look on their face and announce how much god has blessed them. What makes them so goddamn special?

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Yeah, they never speak on how they are trying to encourage that "blessedness" in others besides praying for them or handing them an address for a church. They really act like it is pure design that leads them on the road they are on to success. This guy sounds like he seriously needs a case worker, or he has been in and out of care with no success.

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I'd be willing to bet any file or files on this guy are stamped Non Compliant. Reminds me of a gal [street person] I tried to help. The most cheerful but mentaly challenged person I've been around. Her name was Terri and she was a neighbor in this same area. She had much more of a support system than the guy I described. A dumpy little apartment, a resturant next door fed her freely/often, I gave her rides, etc.and she just loved my dogs. Anyway one day she asked for a ride to the bus station. On our way there I learn that she's moving to Ft. Worth even though she knows no one and has never been. Well I talk her out of it and I made her an appointment with M.H.M.R. She tells me she's never been but is willing to go. I pick her up on the day, we drive to the place, walk in the front door and everybody we see says "Hey Terri". Just goes to show it's hard to help some people. I almost wish that guy was a dog, then you could improve his life like it or not,,,as strange as that sounds. 

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