That Time I Went to the Other Party

I used to be religious. And being a religious white male in America, that means I was a Republican.

I didn’t know much about politics or current events. I didn’t watch the news, but my ears would catch dialog about this or that event, and who supposedly was for what I was against or against what I was for.

What was I against? Anything that I felt would “trample on my rights.” What were my rights? Jesus! Property! Guns! Prayer! Bibles! You know the routine, be for or not for it.

But who was running for office? Who knows. I wanted to know what party they were in. I wanted to know what that party was for or against. I wanted to vote for whoever actually read the terms of agreement because that would save me the work detail.

The only thing I knew about the Republican Party was that it was “pro-life.” This means that the opposing party—the Democrat Party—was pro-death, or “pro-choice.” That was all I cared about. No other humanity issues were even considered.

Was there issues with the Republican Party? Sure. But did I know what they were? Not really. All I cared about was that I felt abortion was wrong and wouldn’t care about how else the party I considered myself affiliated with was wrong. Life over death. That was the most important.

A few things happened that started me on the way to changing my politics.

First off, I like people. I don’t like to see others in pain. I want to help people—not just my own circle—even if it is at a sacrifice. As I’ve aged and married, I’ve been less free with my money, but the heart is still there. Instead, I give more time and resources than I used to.

Turns out, most organizations that try to alleviate others’ pain and discomfort without ultimatum and conning are non-religious, left-wing groups. Right-wing, humanitarian groups are almost non-existent, except for the church groups that try to proselytize. Here’s a meal; now, come to my church and tithe.

Secondly, I stumbled across George Carlin stand-up videos. Using philosophy combined with humor, he attacked the ideas that many Republicans have about war, god, rights, oppression, and the like.

Ironically, the right-wingers care about themselves and maybe a fetus. After that, Carlin says, they don’t care about you until you’re military age. After you leave the military, they again don’t care about you. They claim to be “pro-life,” but are pro-war, pro-death penalty, pro-spanking, pro-child labor, and pro- anything else that steps on the dignity of people they do not know.

Thirdly, I read a book called God’s Politics, which was less about party lines but rather showing mercy and kindness to all people.

A truly religious party would not want others to be hungry, in poverty, without health care, and without hope for a good future. This made me realize that outside of the “pro-life” argument—which is a small issue in comparison to all the other more important issues that we Americans face—I was more of a Democrat than anything.

America is a melting pot of diverse people types and cultures, where all of us are seeking life, liberty, and happiness. Any party that promises and delivers this to as many people within and without our nation is the political party or person I want to align myself with. Otherwise, I’m being ignorant, unkind and/or selfish.

Good from Religion

Though it’s been almost a decade since leaving religion, it’s hard to put it behind me. I don’t mean the church-going and Bible-reading. I mean the good stuff in religion is hard to shake off.

But I guess that’s the main point. The things I still utilize from my religious days turns out not to be religious at all.

Community

No matter where you are from, whether you are introverted or extroverted, religious or not, you will desire one form of community or another.

They come in all shapes an sizes: churches, board meetings, pool tournaments, bar chatter, hiking groups, monthly dinners out with friends, recovery meetings, et al.

If one leaves the church, there should be some sort of community, even if it’s hanging out with the neighbors in the backyard for beer and burgers.

Morality / Ethics

Growing up in Christianity, we are taught to be mindful of our sin.

Prevention of getting in trouble should not be the motivation of our deeds.

Neither should be feel like we can do whatever we want in this life, believing we’ll be forgiven no matter what.

I believe that integrity is who we are when we behave in public similarly to how we would in private.

Our character should be consistent, both alone and with company.

Group or individual biases and bigotry has no place in an all-loving, secular life.

Social Justice / Human Rights

The previous takes me into this section (social justice and human rights).

When I was religious, this was a huge thing.

Soup kitchens, shelters, bake sales, visiting the hospitalized and imprisoned, and taking care of the widows and fatherless.

While these things are good, there was always an element of letting these people know why we were doing the things we did: to convert them.

In the secular realm, we don’t do these things to get people to choose a religion or god, but instead to show that no matter what, they’re people like us and deserve to be treated with dignity and love.

Peace / Tranquility

While we all will sometime die, we all want peace and tranquility.

We want to know that when we leave this life, we will leave loved ones with good thoughts about us, and hopefully not a lot of stress regarding the unfinished tasks.

And while we’re here, we want to keep the peace, trying to get along with our fellow human being.