What they don’t tell you about speaking out (and having different views)

If you are privileged enough to go to college, then hopefully you are challenged, faced with hard decisions, and exposed to new ideas. College is meant to be a place of self-realization, exploration, and enlightenment. I spent five years as an undergrad and didn’t fully realize how much college changes you until my last year. I realized pretty quickly that I had abandoned my ultra-conservative roots and picked up a more liberal, left-winged way of thinking. From the Black Lives Matter movement to DAPL, I consistently had different opinions than my loved ones (specifically on Facebook).

I am a loud and proud individual. I am privileged as hell. I suffer from white guilt but choose not to be immobilized by it. I am a God fearing Christian. I am all of these things and more, yet I find myself constantly questioning my role, what society is suppose to be, and how to make a true difference. All of these things I have learned about on the job, in the classroom, on a Saturday night three drinks deep at a bar. There is so much knowledge I have gained, questioned, and created – however they don’t tell you everything.

They don’t tell you how to respond to harsh criticism to your ideals and beliefs by your friends. They don’t tell you how awkward it will be at family events whenever you’re the “flaming liberal” who has betrayed their conservative upbringing. They don’t tell you about the tears, rage, and fear you feel (all at once) when a family member you have loved, looked up to, and have worshiped all your life tells you they don’t know who you are anymore, that you have betrayed your heritage – essentially cutting ties. They don’t tell you the pain you will go through as you change into the person your trying to become.

They don’t tell you that sometimes you will wonder why you even bother to speak out about injustices, the hypocrisy, and the hatred. They don’t tell you that your family will slowly walk away whenever you don’t sit on the same side of the political spectrum. They don’t tell you have you sit, for hours, wondering if all you have done is even worth it. There is so much they don’t tell you – so here I sit, wondering if my activism, yearning for a socially just society, and hundreds of hours of self-education is even worth it. What am I really accomplishing? Is it even worth it?

I don’t know. I am terrified. My greatest fear is being lonely. They don’t tell you about all the shit that comes with picking the high road, the road less traveled, the road not in-line with your family. I am so young, yet I feel so old. I am so privileged, yet I feel like I have lost so much. No one told me that I would be where I am at right now. The only thing I have left to do is pray, read, meditate, and reflect. I don’t know what I am meant to do in this life – what I know now is that it gets real ugly, real painful, real. This is not the guilt confession of another white ally. This is not the bickering of a privileged male. This is true hurt, true confusion, true desperation. This is so much and more – the things that did tell me when I started this journey.

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You can keep your religion

You can keep your religion. I do not want it. I’m tired of labels, boxes, cold shoulders, and ignorance. This cradle Baptist is tired of lines being drawn, shallow expectations and ignorant glares. Your religion is useless to me and let me tell you why.

Religion has killed faith. No more do we see the missionaries of old. Now we have tv evangelists trying to stuff their pockets and increase their ratings. Religion has now become a race to see what building is bigger, who has the most “members” and who goes the furthest for “mission” trips. Churches have become an antique warehouse rather than a manufacturing plant.

Why is religion wrong? Because it separates us from others. To condemn one another is against the Bible, am I wrong? Then why do we not let our children play with other children because their parents don’t go to the same building every Sunday? Your religion is dead because it has become your god.

Catholicism. Hinduism. Protestantism. Judaism. With all of these options, we know God is for certain, but who is to say only one is right? How is it that Native Americans had a way of worship before Europeans “discovered” them? How is it that ever since the dawn of man, we have always fantasized, dramatized, and fictionalized our Creator? Here we are, thousands of years later, yelling at each other and condemning others to hell.

You can keep your religion. I have faith. I believe in my God. I believe He loves you and me. I believe He made sacrifices to get where we are today. You can keep your religion because I don’t need it. I can talk with the Jew, sing with the Catholic, and be friends with a Muslim. I can appreciate the Quaker, sit with the Mormon, and laugh with the Buddhist. We all have that end goal of eternal life. We all have that feeling, that passion, that fear. Your religion is yours to keep. I want to be free to love others, learn their passions, experience their faiths, and grow closer to my God. Keep your religion, because I don’t want those strings on me.