When I was a kid, one of the book series I loved to read was called The Baby-Sitters Club. There was even a TV show in the 90s of the same name. This TV show was based off of these same characters, though I honestly don’t remember much about the show itself. But that being said, when I found out that Netflix was coming out with a Netflix original version of The Baby-Sitters Club, I was elated!! And so fast-forwarding to now: Netflix has finally released this show on its platform. And upon watching the first couple episodes of it, I fell in love with many of the actors immediately. I love how this show has been updated in terms of the times our real world is actually living in; like, the girls within the Baby-Sitters Club have cell phones. These girls also seem to have beliefs that align with feminism which is also lovely.
In an episode of the Multiamory podcast, the show’s hosts Emily, Dedeker and Jase talked with their guest about what it means to define oneself as someone who’s on the spectrum that is asexuality. And something huge that this discussion has brought to my mind, is the importance of speaking with one’s potential significant others about whether you are a sexual person or not. Multiamory’s guest suggested that especially if folks are on the spectrum of asexuality, it would be helpful for such folks to be honest about exactly what that means for them individually. This particular discussion has gotten me thinking about how one of the words I use to label my sexual identity, is the word “demisexual.” And what “demisexual” means is that I have to have some form of a connection with people, before I can have sex with them. I don’t have to be in love with people I have sex with though, which I’ve found can be a misconception that people have about this particular term “demisexual.” But that being said, that’s why it’s important for people to openly share their experiences with things like sexuality or religion or non-monogamy: because as I’ve said numerous times before, speaking up and out is the only way we can change the world for the better.
In another Multiamory episode, Jase, Dedeker and Emily talked with the day’s guest about the very controversial subject of dating as someone who does relationships much different than many folks do. And one thing that this guest touched on that’s important for me to mention here, is that for some folks, myself among them, being totally honest with people from the start is the way to go. So like, an example of this in my own life, is how I say on my online dating profile that my potential partners need to be accepting of people with disabilities (PWDs) as I’m a PWD myself. And even though it isn’t socially acceptable for me to say that so bluntly, it’s necessary nonetheless. Because I’ve wasted tons of time in my life already, and I’m not willing to do so anymore, in any way. But that being said, I’m sure that life will still hand me people who are toxic…but mostly, I’m a firm believer that whatever you put out into the universe, will come back to you tenfold. And so, the easier it becomes for me to live in my truth, the more I’ll in turn attract the right kinda people into my life.
In a recent episode of the Short Wave podcast, the hosts of this show actually let other podcast hosts take over their show for a day. And the story that was told by the guest hosts, was relevant to what we as a world are going through right now: people not wanting to follow the rules that the governments within countries are encouraging us to follow. So the story that’s being told here in this Short Wave episode, is one in which a woman who thinks she’s healthy, actually turns out to be deathly ill. But this woman is so fucking stubborn that she repeatedly disobeys people’s orders to allow herself to be tested for bacteria. The people who are doing their best to convince her that no one wants to harm her, cannot seem to hold her for any amount of time, as she fights everyone as hard as she can. And so eventually, this woman whose name is Mary, does have it proven that she’s sick with bacteria that’s contagious. But then as time goes on, she eventually dies from having pneumonia. And how this story is related to what’s currently happening in our world, is that there are individuals who are intentionally disobeying the rules that governments of countries are encouraging people to follow. And while I’m typically someone who doesn’t follow rules just because I’m supposed to, I do follow the government’s rules, or the rules that the World Health Organization (WHO) has put out. Because when it comes to lessening the number of people who are diagnosed with Covid 19, I absolutely want to do my part to keep as many people safe as I can. The only risks that I’ll take in life, are ones that I can be reasonably certain will have a mostly good outcome: relocating from one place to another, for example, has had a mostly good outcome.
In a recent episode of the Hidden Brain podcast, the show’s host Shankar Vedantam told a story about how decades ago a teenage black man was accused of committing a crime that he didn’t actually commit. Throughout this story, we as the listeners hear about how multiple people are and have been supposed criminals, simply due to the color of their skin. The main man that this story is about is named Fred; he was ultimately convicted for a crime that he knew nothing about. He spent decades behind bars, even though as I’ve said above, he was still a kid when this crime was committed. And so, the main question that’s being examined in this particular Hidden Brain episode, was whether teenagers should be considered criminals as adults; and in my opinion, they (teenagers) should not be. Because as this Hidden Brain episode so eloquently points out, kids oftentimes don’t know any better. Children’s brains are literally not developed, in the same way that adults’ brains have had time to develop. This truth is important to acknowledge here, because people cannot be held responsible for something that they are incapable of emotionally understanding. So in the law holding this adult man to something that he was accused of doing as a teenager, the law assumes that this now-adult man has not grown up at all since that crime had been committed. Hell, when the jury had found the main person in this story named Fred guilty, just because he didn’t show that he felt bad about this murder that he’d been accused of, the jury’s verdict was incorrect. Fred was not the one who’d committed this crime; and it shouldn’t have taken decades for the law to catch up to that truth.
I think it’s important for me to talk about my own journey where becoming more informed on racism being a real problem in our world is concerned; because truth be told, the concept of racism is something that’s fairly new to me. Because to start, I’m a white female. So for most of my life, I grew up hearing things like “people only go to jail or prison because they deserve to be there.” This sort of thing was said numerous times by my family of origin, but also, I’ve been in romantic relationships with people who have espoused these same harmful beliefs. And so this means that for nearly all of my life, I didn’t know how to think critically about something like racism, which I was totally unaware of. But then in fall 2019 when I was in a class that introduced me to sociology/the reality of this very thing, my life was forever changed. I became conscious about subjects like racism and I learned more about how sexism is also a hot-button issue…and for a good reason, at that. It was also in this class that I learned exactly what white privilege meant, among other things. And so ever since I’ve taken that particular sociology class, I’ve become much more outspoken about these sorts of things on a regular basis, now. And TBH, I love speaking up and out on issues…when I feel my voice matters most. I think it’s important to say something whenever we see something, because that is the only way that we can change our world for the better.
Something in the book COMING OUT ATHEIST that stands out to me, is how its author Greta Christina points out that people have misguided ideas about what religion really gives the world. More specifically, many people’s fear about what they’d lose if they didn’t have religion in their lives, is so great that such people seem to find it unbearable to think of anything else besides their limited and limiting perspective. But yet I know through my own personal experience being a life-long atheist, as well as through having read other people’s stories related to their atheism, that religion of any kind literally does not give anyone anything that they can’t find in other communities. Well, except the part where religion of any kind advocates that people believe in a higher power or souls that will exist forever. Because the thing is, people don’t have to believe in a higher power, spirituality or souls of any kind, in order to be ethical human beings. But spirituality, a higher power and souls, are literally the only things that religion of any kind gives people. And quite frankly, as an atheist, I don’t believe in any of those things. But also, through having read atheist-related literature for many years, I know that there are tons and tons of atheist communities that exist, both online and offline. But as is true for many things in life, it can sometimes take awhile for us to find people within communities that we can come to think of as being a part of our tribe. But it’s helpful for us to have patience throughout such frustrating times, and to remind ourselves that we are not alone. All in all, I’d definitely recommend that people read this book, if they want to learn about atheism or if they are someone who wants to be an out atheist themselves…or even if they want to express their support of out atheists whom they care about.
Another book that’s by Greta Christina that I’m currently reading, is called The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. And one of the very first things in this book that resonates with me, is how she talks about people living in the here and now rather than in the past or in the future. The reason that this stands out to me, is because for much of my life, I lived in terms of thinking about my past and my future. Like, I truly thought that that was the only way to live. But also, I lived as someone who viewed the things that were happening in my life as things that I had no control over whatsoever. But in fall 2017 when I started going to therapy, that particular action of mine was what’s lead me exactly to where I am now: the driver of my life, to the extent that that is possible.
What I mean by this, is that I no longer think that my destiny has been planned or that some higher power knows my every thought or my every need…much less that this supposed higher power has a long list of the things that he/she/it is keeping track of, that make me a failure in her/his/its eyes. Because if that were true, this god must love seeing people in pain. At least, that’s what I used to try and convince myself of, back when I was still trying to outwardly appear as a hardcore Christian. But now that I no longer have to worry about keeping that fake attitude up, I’ll admit that the reality, harsh though it may be, is that suffering is a fact of life for everyone. Now that I’m no longer willing to believe that everything happens for a reason, I openly talk about how there are tons of things (and people) who can make life suck. Now that I’m no longer willing to lie to myself or others about there being lessons for us human beings to learn whenever we go through what can be the shittiest of circumstances, I feel more comforted and secure than I ever have in my entire life. I don’t have anything like religious guilt or pressure to not take responsibility for what happens to and in my own life, gnawing at me or flat out eating me alive. Now that I’m not trying to convince myself that my body doesn’t even belong to me, I’ve truly started to love my ability to make choices about what does or doesn’t happen to my body. I feel great because I’m a powerful woman whose carried myself through tough shit that would make many folks crumble; and I’ll continue to carry myself through hell and back, because that’s just who I am. No deity gets credit for anything about my life…and words can’t express how comforted that makes me. Hell, I have more inner peace as an atheist than I ever had when I was trying to force myself to be religious.
Another thing in this book that stands out to me, is how its author discusses the way many atheists view death. Like, one point she brings up that I honestly hadn’t given much thought to before, is this idea that seeing people cry when someone they love has recently died, is something that should be avoided at all costs. On one hand, I do think that funerals as a whole can be depressing as fuck; but at the same time, people crying because they’re grieving, is a natural part of the human experience. And so, as the way I think about this particular thing shifts, I’m actually thinking of the fact that folks having a healthy balance of sadness and celebration as those things relate to funerals, is what I’d personally want to happen when I die. Because I definitely don’t want anyone to deny their raw emotions of crying because they’ll miss me; I want them to be totally genuine about whatever they are feeling. I’d want my funeral to be a literal safe space for folks to speak however they need or want to speak. I’d want my funeral to be a place where folks can discuss the things that were huge parts of my identity: my atheism, my being polyamorous, my gayness, my liberalism, my love of all kinds of music ETC. I’d want people to openly discuss all of these things at my funeral/memorial because every single one of these things informs how I live my life every day. Like, I’m polyamorous because I wholeheartedly believe that adding as much love to my life as possible, is something that will help make my life most meaningful. I want people to openly discuss that I was a staunch atheist because my atheism, too, informs how I live every day. Like, the fact that I know that this life is the only life I have, helps me intentionally create the life I know I deserve to live. My liberalism as well as my gayness are both important to discuss at my funeral because human rights are a real and valid thing, whether it’s racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia ETC that we’re talking about. Because the truth that many white folks don’t want to acknowledge, much less stand in unity with, is that all human beings ought to have the same rights as one another. The fact that I love all kinds of music should be discussed at my funeral/memorial, because music is one of the only universal languages in the world, in my opinion.
Something else in the book called The Way of The Heathen that stands out to me, is how its author Greta Christina discusses the fact that on dollar bills here in the United States of America, is the printed phrase “in God we trust.” I think I’ve heard at some point prior to seeing that particular phrase in this book, that such a thing was thrown in our faces by the United States government…but I honestly didn’t remember that, until reading about it in The Way of The Heathen. And quite frankly, I share Greta Christina’s viewpoint: that no government, whether in the US or otherwise, has the right to tell its citizens what to believe. If people within country governments want to believe in a higher power or believe in a specific religion, it is their individual right to do so. But governments as a whole have no fucking business forcing their beliefs onto their citizens. To do so is unethical, not to mention unconstitutional, at least here in the US. And so, all this being said, I wish that I still had eyesight. Because if I ever had cash on me, I’d love to have opportunities to cross out the “in God we trust” language in front of people that I’m doing business with. I think that form of confronttation would be incredibly powerful, yet probably somewhat uncomfortable too, both for me and for the people I’m doing business with. But as Greta Christina also points out in this part of this particular book, confrontation doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad experience.
Because the thing is, it’s healthy for us human beings to sit with our discomfort; in fact, sitting with our discomfort is something that can ultimately help us become better human beings. And while I’m speaking about the subject of confrontation, I think it’s important for me to reflect on how my thoughts about the idea of confrontation have shifted through the years. Because honestly, for much of my life, confrontation has been something that I’ve had a negative view of. Like, I’d regularly avoid confrontation as much as was humanly possible, as my family of origin displayed confrontation in threatening, truly mean ways, from what I can recall. But as I continue to go through life, the way I think about confrontation has evolved. Because even in reading this book The Way of The Heathen, its author Greta Christina gives some great food for thought about how if we human beings would allow ourselves to live out our truth, even when it’s uncomfortable for us to do so, people will likely take note of that in a positive way. I also love how Greta Christina points out that whether you believe in a higher power or whether you don’t, those particular beliefs will open up a can of worms so to speak. I honestly hadn’t thought about that at all before, but it makes total sense.
In one of the childfree Facebook groups I’m in, someone created a topic about not liking this very group because some people’s posts got on their nerves. What I wrote in response to this person’s annoying criticism reads:
Here come the tone police again. Many of us come to this very group to express ourselves as honestly as possible, and for myself personally, I despise kids. I would never wish harm on them or their parents, but I’m not going to act like I enjoy spending time with them, either. You have a choice about whether you want to respond to topics that you see here…and no one is forcing you to reply to posts that you don’t agree with. It’s called being an adult and knowing what your limit/boundaries are.
I recently had a conversation with one of my friends that was thought-provoking. More specifically, I told this friend how outwardly expressing myself has become a creative thing I truly enjoy doing. Because I honestly used to find myself feeling really upset and frustrated at the fact that my multiple disabilities would often cause me to get what I would call the wrong kinda attention from people. But since I’ve been here in a liberal-leaning state, and since I’ve also mentally been able to get rid of my bad storage space from all the bad/toxicity I’d had inside of me for 30 years, it’s become easier for me to find new ways to express my individuality. This is something that I never even dreamed would be possible, given what a hellish upbringing I endured at the hands of my family of origin. But that being said, here I am, constantly finding new creative ways that I can outwardly express my individuality. That’s empowering!!