Religion and Good People

I have a confession: I love watching crappy TLC shows. I have no shame about it. Say Yes to the Dress, Sister Wives. I am all about it. Lately I’ve been binge-watching 19 Kids and Counting, a show about an extremely religious family that subscribes to things like purity culture, homeschooling, and missionary work around the world. And while I find this as entertaining as the rest, there are a few trends in the show that I feel need to be called out as real trends that people in these traditions tend to follow. Many of these involve acting in ways that they feel make them a “good person”, or at the very least that portray them as such to others, however many of them seem to me to be completely irrelevant to goodness or morality.

The first one of these has to do with gratitude. In 19 Kids and Counting, the youngest daughter, Josie, was born nearly 4 months premature. The family wasn’t certain if she would survive infancy. She did, and throughout the season of the show that I was watching they were continually expressing gratitude for her life. This seems wholly appropriate. However what seemed odd to me was that they were expressing gratitude to God without once expressing gratitude towards the doctors and nurses who clearly worked incredibly hard to keep their daughter alive. No mention of the NICU where she stayed, no mention of the good people who helped her or their family, no mention of the hard work that scientists have done to allow a baby like this to survive. These are people who are living with their daughter on oxygen every day so that she can remain alive and healthy, and they choose to say nothing about the other human beings who made this possible.

Of course if you believe in God it makes sense to be grateful to God, but if you want to be a good person you should also express your gratitude towards the people who have helped you, people who could hear and NEED to hear about the difference they’ve made in your life. It seems odd to me that these people can express such deep gratitude to their God and ignore the time, sacrifice and effort that other human beings have made for their family.

A similar example comes in their service work. The Duggars speak often about the value of service, and how they want their children to enjoy serving others. This is a great value! I applaud it. However all the examples that I have seen of their “service” are simply proselytizing. They volunteered for a local aid organization, however the only aid that this organization provided was Christian materials dropped from planes. They went on a trip to Central America to help remote villages without water or electricity, however instead of bringing much needed supplies or helping build a well, they brought Christmas presents, Bibles, and put on a Christmas pageant.

“Service” is not just doing something abroad or for a nonprofit. Service has to involve actually helping other people…serving them. You have to do something that they need or want in order for it to be service. You need to actually be providing a service to someone, not simply forcing things on them that they don’t want. Proselytizing is not service, and acting as though it is will give your children an extremely skewed vision of what it means to be a good person.

Choosing God over other people does not make you a good person. The Bible has a lot of bits about loving your neighbor in it, and it seems to me that if you want to show love for God you should do more than simply talk about your gratitude to him and actually go out and do something for other people that helps them. I realize that for some people, exposing others to God is something that helps them, but maybe we could show them some mercy and gratitude in this life too.

 

Why Study Religion?

I am an atheist. You may have noticed this from some previous posts. I know I keep it pretty subtle, but you kids are quick. You probably picked up on it. However despite being an atheist, I majored in religion in college. This confuses some people. Some people in the atheist movement seem to think that we need to get rid of religious education altogether. This confuses me.

I don’t think that anyone should have to defend what they find interesting to study, but I do think that it’s important for everyone to recognize what it is that we can learn from religious studies and what skills they give us. Religious studies are hugely important to our understanding of the world and our place in it. While an atheist may not need a deep understanding of theology to feel that they understand their world and their self, there are BILLIONS of other human beings on this planet who do believe in a god, and that if I can’t make some attempt to understand this important aspect of their life, then I am not only being self-centered, I’m also shooting myself in the foot in terms of my ability to make relationships and find opportunities with these people.

Religion is often heavily integrated into culture. If you want to be able to seamlessly interact with people from a variety of backgrounds, then having a basic understanding of a variety religions is integral. This will allow you not to step on toes inadvertently, to understand where someone might be coming from, and to even “speak their language” as it were. In addition, religion is a huge motivator for a lot of people. I may not agree with extreme evangelicals who preach gender complementarity, however I have done a LOT of reading about their positions, and I can at least understand where they’re coming from and why they espouse the beliefs they do and act in the ways that they do. By understanding where they’re coming from, it’s a lot easier for me to engage them.

If we are to be educated citizens of the world, it’s important for us to have some basic familiarity with the major backgrounds that people can come from, and with the different assumptions that those people will have that are different from our own. Sociology and anthropology are important for just these reasons, as are the humanities, which give us a glimpse into lives different from our own. But this includes religious beliefs, because these inform politics, culture, personal actions, human rights, and just about every other facet of human life that you can imagine. If an atheist feels that they don’t need to know about religion because they don’t believe in it, they clearly are not looking at the real world and the role that religion plays in the real world. You don’t have to agree with something to recognize how important it is in the lives of others and how much more effective you will be at navigating the world if you have a basic understanding of it.

Because of my background in religion, I am more easily able to converse with religious individuals about their beliefs. I like to think I’m less judgmental than I would be otherwise. I’ve thought deeply about the motivations that people have for holding the beliefs they do and what benefits religion brings. I can be a more compassionate individual because of my background in religious studies, as well as understand what’s happening around me more thoroughly. Who wouldn’t want this?

 

Written by Olivia James

Practically Speaking about Evidence

This is the third post in a series of posts about evidence. Here are parts 1 and 2.

 

In this post, I want to focus not on the philosophical benefits of truth or my personal experience of truth, but rather on the simple facts (that’s what skeptics like, right?).  So I’ve heard some people say things like: “All of my beliefs are based on evidence”. When I hear someone say that my first reaction is “WHOA DAMN WE HAVE A GOD HERE IN OUR MIDST”. Now I can tell just from looking at it that you haven’t taken the time to examine the evidence for that statement, because unless you are a robot and not a human being you have come to beliefs by a different route at least once. So by saying it, you’ve actually just proved yourself wrong. You’ve also essentially asserted that you’re not tripped up by petty things like human psychology.

 

I am willing to bet all the money that I own that there is not a single person on the face of this planet who does not hold a single belief tainted by faith, wishful thinking, prejudice, stereotypes, emotions, assumptions, or other non-evidence based things. I know for an absolute fact that I have TONS of beliefs like this. I know for a fact that most of the people who have said this to me have beliefs like that. Every single person I’ve met has demonstrated non-evidenced based beliefs to me.

 

As human beings we have evolved to have emotions that affect how we act. We have fight or flight instincts. We have paranoias and irrational fears. We have histories that paint how we view things. We are susceptible to societal biases and easy to manipulate based upon quirks of our minds. We may think we can verify the truth or falsity of things with our senses, but our senses are easy to fool too. We’re not made to work only on evidence and it takes a lot to overcome some of our emotional nature that asks us to come to quick conclusions to protect ourselves.

 

And you know what? THAT’S OK. It is entirely 100% acceptable and not shameful in any way to have some beliefs that aren’t perfectly based on evidence. Because it is human and we are not capable of perfection. What I strive for is to do my best, not for perfection. There’s lots of instances where I don’t have the time or the ability to find all the evidence I might need, there’s times when I’m straight up lazy because the thing isn’t important, there’s times when I am physically incapable of finding all the evidence, or there’s times when the evidence is about half and half for two different things and I just kind of have to guess, or assume or hope that I’m right. I might even just have to go on faith a bit by listening to others.

 

I realize that the word faith has a dirty connotation to a lot of atheists, but we go on faith a lot of the time. When someone tells you something and you don’t have the time to check their credentials or check for yourself, and you trust this person and then go on to act in accordance with what they’ve told you….that’s faith. I bet you every single one of you has done that at one point or another. Or at least I hope every one of you has trusted another human being at some point in your life. It’s more practical than feeling an obligation to personally check the facts for every single situation. It’s useful. It’s often necessary.

 

The MAJOR difference between this kind of faith and a religious faith is that this kind of faith is open to new evidence. It’s a temporary accepting of whatever seems most plausible at the moment, or of someone else’s evidence, or of their authority. If your boyfriend tells you he loves you and you don’t have any access to a brain scanner to make absolutely certain, you’ll probably believe him. But if you find out he’s a compulsive liar and has been cheating on you, you’re likely to adjust that belief. But you did take it at least somewhat on faith the first time around. You had some evidence, but not as much as you could have had, not enough to make it as certain as possible. You accepted it without certain. You accepted it through trust. By some people’s accounts that’s a bad thing to do, but in my mind it’s highly practical and quite rational.

 

So if we can all accept that sometimes we have flawed beliefs that aren’t based wholly and strictly on evidence, then can we look again at the people who believe in god with a little more compassion? Because honestly they’re not doing anything morally WRONG by believing in god. Their actions based upon their religion might be harmful, the specific teachings of their religion might be harmful and the actions they take because of it might be harmful, but the belief in god itself is not harmful. It’s an understandable lapse, just like all of us make understandable lapses. To perhaps reach a more compassionate view of theists let’s take a look at another false set of beliefs and see how we approach those (caveat before I continue: I am not trying to call religion a mental illness in any way. It’s a metaphor. METAPHOR).

 

So. I have a pretty firmly engrained set of false beliefs that come not just from evidence (because there is some evidence involved), but also from emotion and assumption. I believe quite firmly that I am a useless lump of fat. I can give you a list of the reasons why I think that, the evidence I believe I have, but in the end this belief and its attached conclusions and attitudes are very emotional.

 

I have never, not once in my life, had someone believe that this makes me an appropriate target for ridicule, condescension or mockery. And if they did it would be the most heinously unfeeling thing anyone has ever done to me. I’ve had these beliefs for a good 4 or 5 years now. At different times I’ve tried to shake them, but a lot of the time I have no desire to shake them because they seem like the single most important set of beliefs I’ve ever held in my life.

 

But just because I have one set of false beliefs does not make me stupid. And just because you don’t hold this particular false set of beliefs doesn’t make you better than I am, smarter than I am, a better person than I am. It means I have more work to do in one area. That’s it. And if you suddenly start to think that I’m unworthy of your compassion because I have been willing to hold on to these beliefs for this long, then I don’t think you’re worthy of my respect anymore. If you feel that the correct way to disabuse me of these notions is by condescending to me, telling me how stupid I am, telling me that my beliefs are crazy and ridiculous, or by acting like you are more intelligent than I am, I can promise you now that I will never change my beliefs and I will never have the happier life that true beliefs could bring. If you feel that the appropriate way to make yourself feel better about your life is to tell me that I’m ignoring all the evidence, that I can’t think straight, that my beliefs are destroying the world because they’re false, or that those beliefs are the worst form of oppression because they are false and I am content to keep them that way, then your life is sad indeed.

 

If instead you take an attitude of compassion and say “yeah, you have some wrong beliefs. And I have some wrong beliefs too. Let’s try to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong together so that we can all be happier” I would be far more inclined to listen.

 

So let’s apply this all to religion. When you come towards religious believers acting as if all of your attitudes and beliefs are based strictly on evidence, they see someone blowing smoke out their ass because that’s a bullshit claim, and they see you acting like you’re a lot better than they are for absolutely no reason. They see us patting ourselves on the back for being so damn enlightened. Well you know what? Atheists have a lot of shitty beliefs too. Some of them have even shittier beliefs than some Christians do. Being an atheist doesn’t make you a perfectly intelligent, fault-free person. Neither does being a skeptic. None of these attitudes rid you of the fact that you’re human and ALL of our decision making is tinged by emotions (when psychologists study people who have had damage to emotional parts of their brain and who act strictly on rationality, these people are often incapable of making decisions). And when a Christian or theist of any kind sees someone blustering up to them acting like God incarnate with no false beliefs, they’re going to shut down mighty fast. Atheists are often accused of seeing themselves as God, and I think we should do our best not to make it easier to stereotype us this way. Saying that we never are flawed in the way we come to conclusions is a really BAD way to make people realize you don’t think you’re God.

 

Look I know how fun it is to feel smarter than someone else. I KNOW how much fun it is to verbally and intellectually rip someone to pieces (I was on the debate team, I practically get high from doing that). But it’s not always the time or the place to do that, and you don’t always have a right to do that simply because another person has a mistaken belief. Imagine if we felt that because we had a right belief and someone had a wrong belief it was not only our right but also our duty to leave them in quivering pieces of destroyed self-esteem. Imagine if we did that to EVERY mistaken belief. That sounds like a damn shitty world to me, and I know that I’d end up a hermit if people did that to all of my mistaken beliefs. I know most of you would feel pretty crappy too (because you do have badly formed beliefs. Seriously, just accept it).

 

Now yes, some irrational beliefs are harmful. My irrational beliefs are harmful. And it’s great to promote the idea that we should strive for more and help each other come to better beliefs. But if we’re trying to promote a better world through truth, then shaming people for not living up to your expectations is just as bad as religions that shame people for not being able to live up to the impossible expectations of god. You end up with just as much guilt and hatred.

 

Having a bit of compassion for the fact that every human on this planet is doing their best to get by in a way that allows them to survive when things are hard and cruel is the best place to start. Adding to that that truth can help us is a good place to move next. And accepting that all of us sometimes sacrifice truth to our emotional well-being or simple practicality is crucial to coming across as human beings and to being relatable and kind individuals, as well as to having a flexible and working value system. I think it’s time that we start remembering that kindness and compassion can be part of the atheist value system as well as truth.

Ask An Atheist Answers!

So I got a couple of questions from people, but if you still have anything you want to ask go right ahead! My first two questions are from John 🙂

What aspects of a religious community do you most miss, if any?

So this is an interesting question for me because although I grew up in a Catholic school, I don’t know if I would say I ever felt like part of a religious community. My family was never part of a church, and my parents never participated in church functions, so I’m not sure if I got the full benefits of being in a “church community”. I didn’t do Sunday school, I didn’t have church friends, none of that. That being said, there are elements of church that I miss. I miss singing. A lot. I miss there being songs that all my friends knew and hated or loved, and all could sing that weren’t whatever pop music we obviously didn’t have the vocal talent to reproduce. I miss being in churches. As much as I don’t necessarily like the waste of creating gigantic buildings for the sake of a being that doesn’t exist, I do think that there is an art in beautiful buildings, in large, majestic buildings that try to capture space and grandeur without being overly ostentatious. I think that art is largely lost right now, or at least it isn’t held up a whole lot. I love the feeling of being small in a church. I love the feeling of breathing more air. So I miss the buildings, even though I could just go back and sit in a church and reflect if I felt like it now, I miss being in them on a regular basis.

Do you think humanity would lose an important part of its identity if faith, as a concept, were ever to disappear? If so, what aspects of faith are important?

I’m going to divide this question up a bit, because I don’t think faith has to be relegated to religion. Many atheists really hate the concept of faith and think that it’s making a value out of trusting things you don’t know. In many cases I agree with that. However I believe that we also have faith in many other things, things that we don’t necessarily have empirical evidence or certainty of, but which we need to trust anyway: I have faith that my boyfriend loves me. I’m trying to have faith in my therapists when they tell me that my life will be more worth living if I do the things they ask me to do (they don’t have empirical evidence that it will work). I have faith that the system of government I live in will live up to my expectations of it (which I have SOME evidence for, but not a whole lot). So there are a whole lot of places in which we use an element of faith to move from inadequate evidence to what we hope are good and positive actions. Religion absolutely does not have a monopoly on that. I don’t think those aspects of faith should disappear and I don’t think they ever will disappear because we simply need some of them to continue to function (without some element of faith it’s nearly impossible to have relationships).

I think faith is important when interacting with other people, because you will never entirely know what they think or feel. I think faith that takes us from some limited amount of information to necessary action is good (trusting that we’re acting in the best possible way without KNOWING). But there’s a really big difference between these kinds of faith and religious faith, which asks us to believe WITHOUT or with CONTRARY evidence. I see faith as an extra bump to action when you just don’t have the knowledge.

Now if the question is whether I think we will lose out on something if we lose our religious faith, I would say no. I think that all of the things that religion provides can be found in other places, plus MORE can be provided. I think that humanists need to work to create ethical communities that give support and philosophical discussion, and care, and psychological counseling if necessary, that help to support their members in the same ways that churches do without faith. But that can also provide things like sex-positive teachings, or actual licensed therapists, or advocacy for good medicine and healthcare, things that churches don’t currently provide. I think that science and poetry and art, and all the other human pursuits can give us just as much wonder and joy as religion. There may be a sense of comfort and safety that religious faith gives us that we can’t find anywhere else: I’m not totally sure. But at the same time, I think that a false sense of comfort and safety isn’t worth much and doesn’t allow us to move forward in our lives and as a species. I think that when we rely on each other, on our minds, and on our skills in a way that is in synch with reality and as much truth as we can get at, the certainty and safety we get is a lot better.

And my third question is from my dear from Barrett: Question! Preceded by a long ramble. I, as you know, grew up in a fairly similar situation to yourself, as far as religion/religious education goes. I have memories of praying as a very young child, but since probably the age of twelve or thirteen, I have been fairly ‘meh’ about the whole thing. *Religions* I have opinions on, sometimes vociferous ones, and find theology fascinating, but in terms of having any kind of personal faith, I simply don’t find it to be… necessary, I guess, to me. There’s no gap in my life that I need faith to fill. I don’t really have much of on opinion on the existence, or not, of a higher power(s). If I had to stick a label on it, I suppose I’d go with apathetically agnostic.

So, my question is, how did you find your way to firm, outspoken atheism, as opposed to my ‘meh’? At what point did you go, There is no god, and this fact is *important* to me?

This is a FANTASTIC question and one that I’m not entirely certain I have a concrete answer for. Part of the reason that atheism has become important to me is because I do feel a deep yearning for something solid in my life. I NEVER believed in a God, and I always felt a bit ostracized for it or at least a little odd or like something was wrong with me because of it. Only as I got older did I begin to realize that it really wasn’t a problem with ME it was an intolerance on the part of others. So in part it became a way of identifying myself against others from a young age. It was a way of bonding with certain peers in high school. And I ABSOLUTELY hated having religion shoved down my throat in high school and was definitely bothered by the expectation that I should participate even though I was only at the school for the education, not the religion. It was a reaction of frustration. For a long time in high school I was an angry atheist and I felt some amount of contempt for the people who acted like they knew so much better than I did.

When I get to college I very much turned to a “meh” attitude. No one was bothering me about it anymore, so it didn’t seem to matter. In the back of my mind I still identified as atheist, and I was still incredibly interested in questions of religion because I didn’t understand it and I HATE not understanding things. So it always gnawed at the back of my mind, and the fact that I felt very depressed and uncertain about my life also gnawed at the back of my mind and made me wonder if religion could have helped.

Like you, I have always been against particular actions of religions, and have never really felt that religious institutions are very helpful. But I wasn’t vehemently atheist. I’m still not sure I’d say I am. But I think the tipping point for me was that sort of on a whim I went to a student atheist/nonreligious group, and got kind of interested in what they were doing, and started reading a variety of atheist blogs. The more I read, the more I realized that what I had experienced when I was younger wasn’t just individuals being frustrating and condescending, but it was actually a societal attitude of prejudice against atheists. I realized that atheists are one of the least trusted groups in America. I realized that huge numbers of public schools are still forcing prayer on their students. I realized that religious opinions hugely affect politics in a way that I consider negative. And I realized that atheists are a largely invisible minority. And so it became important for me to openly and loudly identify as atheist because I wanted others to know ‘this is what an atheist looks like and I’m not crazy and horrible’.

The longer I’ve been part of the movement, the more I realize how patriarchy and racism and a lot of other negative things in our society are wrapped up in religion, and the more I realize that the logic that brought me to atheism is the exact same logic that requires me to reject stupid bigoted beliefs. And I thought that the intersectionality of all of that is SO important. And as someone with a mental illness, religion is one of the sources of the most stigma against me and science and atheism and logic are my best sources of hope and care. And so it became more and more important for me to do advocacy for skepticism and logical thinking. So while I still identify vocally as an atheist because I do think it’s important for me to show that atheists can be great awesome people, and that religious freedom includes freedom FROM religion, and that religious organizations are not inherently great and neither is faith, but my focus as an atheist has shifted more to skepticism. I want most to be an advocate of rational and logical thinking. And for me that involves atheism, but it also involves feminism and mental health advocacy, and intersectionality, and GLBT advocacy…I’m still deciding whether atheism is the arena in which I want to put my efforts, but I think the atheist community is primarily one of people with lots of privilege, who have a fair amount of influence in academia, and I’d love to bring some of the other concerns that I listed to that community.

And then in addition to all of this, I found an AMAZING group of friends through the atheist community. I mean seriously, I have never spontaneously loved a huge group of people more than the atheists. All the people I write with on teenskepchick are like a little family to me, and they are SUPER supportive if people start getting bitchy and harassy. I have met some incredibly intelligent people who I see as role models and have been given some amazing opportunities because it’s a small, internet driven community that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. So I do think that Atheism has filled a void that was somewhat created because of my atheism: I got the equivalent of a church community in many ways, with career benefits and personal benefits and political benefits.

So WOW that was a long answer. Short answer: I never MEANT to make atheism a part of my identity but it happened through anger, then through frustration, then through community, then through intellect.

Staying Calm in a Debate

I’m having a rough day today. I’ve gotten in a number of heated arguments on facebook. These are not my favorite forum. I have a hard time disconnecting, and a hard time not getting emotional about things that mean a lot to me. Like the fact that sexism and racism are institutional things, not individual actions (dumbasses. Figure it out. Calling someone a dick is not the same as years of disenfranchisement, discrimination, beating, and abuse). I’m upset right now because people are playing on my emotions purposefully, while I have always tried to argue in all good faith. I don’t appreciate when people try to fuck with me just to make a point.

So I’ve gotten a bit emotional. I’m shaky. I can barely type straight because my hands are shaking. I don’t like it when people purposefully push me this far.

But I also think it’s important to try to come to some understanding of whatever a debate is about. I like closure. I did actually get to some points of understanding between myself and the people who were not agreeing with me. So despite being really upset, I don’t want to simply walk away from situations that upset me. I know that part of my inability to walk away is that I want to win. I want a conclusion. And I know that others want that too. I should stop. I really really should. It’s not accomplishing anything when I get upset. And it’s not accomplishing anything for me to “feed the trolls” as it were.

So how do I continue to advocate for my own position, defend myself, and stay calm? How do I continue to respect people (which is something I’ve been trying REALLY REALLY hard to do–Shawn, I really hope you feel I have, that’s always been my intent), while also respecting myself and bringing up controversial and critical points from the position of a minority group (either women or atheists?) How do I also listen to other people’s experiences and respect those?

I really don’t know. I think that I may be too sensitive to really engage in a lot of online debate. I think that every individual who wants to engage in activism needs to take a hard look at their own personality and decide what level of vitriol and anger they can take from others before deciding how far they want to engage in debate.

I’m starting to recognize that many times the greatest form of activism is taking care of myself and respecting myself. But oftentimes I don’t feel like that’s enough. I want to be able to pave the way for other people who are like myself have the space to express their opinions and their selves.

So what do you do when you get upset in online debates? I often find that talking to someone else and making sure I’m not crazy (because people love to gaslight me) helps a lot. I also find that having sources to back me up is really helpful so that I don’t have to do as much of the speaking myself. It helps to stay calm when I engage with something else at the same time as I am engaging in a debate, or if I self-soothe at the same time (pictures of kittens are good). What do you guys do to help calm yourself down in a debate? How do you deal with it when you become upset or frustrated? How do you continue to engage in activism or in debate when your fight or flight instincts start kicking in?

Staying calm is really important in my mind. I was spending some time defending the place of mockery in the atheist movement. I do believe that it’s ok to mock certain beliefs (transubstantiation anyone?) but I think there’s a time and a place for it. My family and I had a Holy Saturday celebration this past week in which we made pope hats to be silly about the new pope (some of us also chose pope names and dressed up in Argentinian garb). This was a private celebration that didn’t attack anyone, but did mock a bit of the ritual in the Catholic church. I think it was fine because it was a bonding activity, and it was highly enjoyable for us. When I’m trying to present myself as the face of an activist group or trying to understand another person’s beliefs or explain my own, I don’t find it helpful to use mockery (some people can do this to great effect. I personally don’t like it).

And so when I’m trying to engage in a discourse (which is different from personal and private enjoyment, or simply throwing something out there), I don’t want to get upset, get angry, personally attack people (which I never think is ok), or lose objectivity and clarity of thought. I want to be able to understand my emotions, use them as fuel for my arguments, but not necessarily let them skew my arguments: make sure that each of my arguments fits the facts, and proceed from the facts as best I can. It’s difficult because I exist in a realm of social justice understanding that many other people don’t inhabit. It’s hard to have to try to explain all of the assumptions that I come in with that I have spent a great deal of time thinking about and coming to conclusions about. It’s frustrating when people dismiss those assumptions despite the fact that I have read pages and pages about them. It’s hard to sum all of that up in a few sentences. It’s hard not to get frustrated when people bypass all of the thoughts that are going on in your brain, or assume that you haven’t already thought things through.

If and when I have time, I would like to start a series that addresses some of these assumptions that I hold: these include things like intersectionality, the nature of racism and sexism, how language changes, privilege and power, and other things. I suppose I could have linked to my privilege post already, but I’d like to have a ready set of them to send to people to give the background of my thought processes. Let me know what things you have a hard time explaining to others, and I’ll see if I can provide a cache of basic explanations of a number of social justice concepts that often get misunderstood or subject to ridicule.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to stay out of facebook debates, because it’s started to get triggering to me and I’ve begun to dissociate when they happen because I feel like I need to quash my emotions and that is really unhealthy for me. If people work purposefully to get me upset and I have to force myself to not react to direct attacks, that’s not healthy. It’s not the kind of activism I want to engage. I’m allowed to be angry about oppression that affects me.