This topic is an easy one! You see I have seen first hand and have experienced the hatred, bigotry and intolerance that society and religion have towards individuals that are different. People who don't fit into the accepted social norm constantly find themselves the subject of ridicule, persecution, and hated. It starts early and is promoted and fostered in the United States through the public school systems. Some of us try to hide through-out our school years, we long to get to college where things will be different, we yearn to go up and be an adult so we don't have to feel ashamed, lonely, ridiculed and other ridiculous notions. Some of us persevere through this and somehow pull through, others conform and fall into sync with the pressure of their peers. Then again if you are me you make the best out of the situation and you reach out of your personal shell and start making friends and changing perceptions.
I was fortunate when I moved to Florida, my parents moved to a small town near Orlando, called Winter Park which is a small town about 5 miles outside of downtown Orlando, it is a place that is well known for old money, big houses, huge golf courses and country clubs. Just, to give you a little more background and some insight to who I am and where I came from I will give you a brief history of myself and then go into how I made it through and where these nasty society norms came from and how they are perpetuated in today's society. I was born in a small town outside of Philadelphia, my father came from a nominal background where his mother raised him and 8 other siblings on a widows pension. My mother on the other hand came from a more privileged background whose parents saved, invested and had money. Mom came from a smaller family where her and her sister were 15 years older than their little brother who is actually only 7 years older than myself. Okay now that you know these simple facts, my father got a job in the electronics field selling different types of computerized equipment and when I was 7 years old we left this small town and moved to Beaumont Texas. Now back then Beaumont wasn't the town that it is today, it was a very small town 45 minutes away from Houston and seemed so far removed from society it was just like living in Pennsylvania, however today it is a huge developed community that is now considered part of Houston. We were only there for 2 years when my father was transferred to Baton Rouge Louisiana, being the capital of Louisiana this was the first major city I lived in. Again we were only there for 2 years before we were moved once again by my fathers work to Orlando Florida where we settled. But, one of the reasons I was able to adapt and fit in with my changing environments was that I was used to moving around and I was an avid reader and music listener. In other words I had built myself a shell and was firmly entrenched inside it so when we moved no matter where I was I had my music and my books. When we bought the house in Winter Park I had met 2 of the kids in the neighborhood that lived really close to me, one lived on the other side of my next door neighbor and the other lived 2 doors down from him. So by the time school started 3 weeks later, I at least knew 2 people.
Again, as I stated before I was fortunate, and for another reason other than having experience from moving around. The first day of school the bus driver assigned us seats, she thought this would keep down trouble and instill order on the bus. In theory, I guess it worked a bit like that, however, it put me sharing a seat with a person who would become my best friend and the most influential person in my life. His name was John Hope, and he broke me out of my shell turned me from an introvert to an extrovert, I went from being invisible to being one of the most visible and memorable people in both middle school and high school. John went on to be a stand up comedian and shared his warmth and laughter with the world. I went on to join the Navy and then on to become a scholar and teacher and specialist in technology and many other things. My mother once told me that I was the highest educated most unemployable person she knew. At the time I found this funny, now I realize that maybe she was right in some ways. But let me just tell you this and then we will move further into what I have to say. I came from a very large high school, I was considered one of the smart kids, I was labelled a teachers pet, but I also overcame all of this to be one of the most memorable members of the graduating class. I had big chunky glasses and hair that had a mind of its own and strange. Yet, I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I had friends that were popular both and accepted but I also had friends in every other circle and click in the school. I had become a social butterfly and that would remain part of my nature my entire life. I was part of every group, accepted by the jocks, the cheerleaders, the nerds, the socially unacceptable and the punkers, the bad boys and every other group. Believe it or not I was liked and remembered by each and everyone and believe it or not you will find almost everyone in my graduating class in my friends list on Facebook.
But, what has all of this to do with hatred and intolerance in today's society? Well, I wanted to give you my background and show you that anyone can get past these things and survive peer pressure. That anyone can make it through the name calling, ridicule and prejudices of peers and society and can use those same things that once made them an outsider and make them an insider accepted and remembered by those they interacted with growing up and through the rest of their lives. Along my journey I have had the opportunity to study first hand many of the world's religions and experience first hand societies views on these views and sort through them, change perspectives and undo some of the damage they have done to people around me. You see the problem with our society comes from what I term as Organized Religion. This is any denomination that boasts and claims to practice Christianity. Now, do not get me wrong I was raised in the Church and I understand and believe the tenants that were instilled in me from childhood, but I have seen firsthand the flaws, and by having the experience while I was in the Navy to learn and view other religions of the world I was able to sort out and piece together my own eclectic view of Spirituality and embark on my own path toward enlightenment.
See, it is my firm believe that religion is man's attempt to reach God and to explain those things that they do not understand and cannot quantify by science. They label it divine or attribute aspect of it toward a religious significance. However, true Christianity or Spiritualism is God's attempt to reach man. However, Christianity and organized religion somehow got off the path as preached and specified by Jesus himself. Jesus preached acceptance and love, to honor and obey and to be fishers of men. However, the church itself maintains and tries to enforce the 10 commandments, they cling to the old testament and miss the entire message of what Jesus was trying to tell the world. Now, there is a reason why the churches and those of what I call organize religion cling and stick with the past and the old testament and it is plain to anyone who dares to remove their blinders and look with an open mind at the hierarchy and structure of the church today. The old testament tells us about the casting out from the garden of eden, the subsequent enslavement of the people of Isreal and Moses dramatic leading of his people out of bondage from Egypt and delivering them to the gates of the promised land. It also tells us where the 10 commandments came from and where they were delivered to Moses. But for those of us who opened our eyes and see what had come about we begin to see why the commandments were necessary and how they molded and continue to influence and shape society at large today. You see Moses had 12 tribes that were following him as they fled the pharoah and his armies, they were fractious groups and tended toward squabbling and when Moses's back was turned easily reverted to idol worship and turning away from God. Therefore, the 10 Commandments were given to Moses to govern and rule the people, the early chapters of the Bible such as Exodus and Leviticus and Lamentations talks about the penalties and consequences of breaking these commandments and other religious views as dictated by the Levi's or the High Priests of the time.
So by telling you all of this what am I trying to tell you, every war that has been fought has been fought over the desire for an object, place, thing or difference, and cloaked under the guise of religion. But the truth of the matter, is that religion was developed and perfected as a means to control the masses, to accumulate wealth and essentially to force society into a habit for living under the commandments and the fear of what happened to society if these commandment were broken. This is known as salvation through the Law. But, in the New Testament it was foretold that the covenant of the law or the covenant of Moses would be broken and salvation would be granted to us by Grace through the belief in Jesus. Jesus like I said had a much more basic and humanistic message that spoke of love and acceptance. Preaching to the common man and reaching out to the lost and disheartened. So why has the church not clung to that teaching, why do they cling to the old testament and the rigid structure of the past? Why are there denominations, why do Preachers and evangelist today speak out against those that don't believe as they do? Why do they preach and teach that if you think and believe different from their views and that of their doctrine that you are going to perish and not make it to Heaven? It is because if they let go of the old testament and embrace the tenants and teachings of Jesus, then they loose control of the masses, their coffers and collection plates would be less and they couldn't force and influence the tides of change and societal whims. So what is all of this saying? It is pointing out that today organized religion has become as corrupt and damaged as it once was in Jesus time, remember that Jesus spoke out against the Church leaders of the times the Sadducees and the Pharisees. He cast out the money lenders in the temple and markets. He dared to change the tenants of the day and speak out against the establishment. He called each of us to do the same. He demanded and we go out and show love, acceptance, tolerance, obedience and compassion to one another and our fellow man.
Yet, here we are 2000 years later, and wars are still being fought, hatred, bigotry and intolerance are still prevalent in a society that is supposed to embrace and accept difference. Our nation was founded on the belief that each individual should have the right to choose and the freedom of choice to believe and follow the religion of their choice. Our forefathers, had the foresight and vision to actually inscribe these things in our founding document the Constitution but look at where we are at. Have we come any further in the 2000 years since Christ to where we are today? Not really! Honestly, if you view organized religion with an open mind you will see what I am saying and can understand that change needs to take place or we are doomed to continue in the same vein as we have for centuries, there will still be greed, war, hatred intolerance and bigotry, there will always be outcasts and societal norms that are influenced and dictated by the church upon the populace, Unfortunately, our forefathers saw that this trend was happening and had the vision to see that inherent danger and tried to ensure that the church wouldn't dictate politics and influence the government. Unfortunately, the separation of church and state which is supposed to be guaranteed and society protected by its inscription in the Constitution has successfully been circumvented and subsequently rendered effective by the advent of lobbying in our government. Ultra-conservatives and right-wing political group and fundamentalist church spend millions of dollars to influence and dictate legislature in our government today. These laws, that are passed, the teachings that the church espouses all play into what becomes know as societal norms and dictates what is acceptable and what is not.
Why I have written all of this and what I want you to walk away from reading this with is the concept and the seed that individualism is good, acceptance is key, leadership is needed and it okay to march to the beat of your own drum. I want you to live your life as you feel inclined too. I want you to live outside of what society decides is the norm. If you can achieve this you will be free from the guilt and remorse that is inflicted by society, church and our own inner beliefs. You will no longer be concerned with how others see you and what they think about you. You will become a leader, you will be a positive influence on others around you and will continue to touch and bless those lives that you come in contact with. Even, if you don't believe in the Bible or the teaching of Christ, if you believe in another religion or creed. If you embrace love, kindness, acceptance, tolerance, understanding, you will find that compassion for your fellow man, and society and the world will become a much better place.
So in summary, why is there so much hatred and intolerance in our enlightened society? Is simply this Religion...man's attempt to reach God and the institution that it built up and created, Where is the solution in the true belief in the essential teachings of what I will call Spirituality or true Christianity...which is God's attempt to reach man and bridge the gap created by Original Sin as written in the old testament. Jesus's teaching of love, acceptance and so forth are the true answer to enduring peace, freedom, and world where differences are celebrated and embraced instead of ridiculed and discriminated against. If only we all could learn the simplest of these things you would see greater advancement in all things because the things which make us different are also the things that when brought together lead to development, creation, and invention. Please release your belief on the old and embrace the new and celebrate living through the joy of love and compassion. Add a sprinkle of laughter into the mix and you will see that pain, illness, will quickly dissolve and your consciousness and mind will be free from constraints and the world will become your oyster and the blessings of the Spirit will be bestowed upon you. Or better yet they will become more evident in your daily life and walk. Each of us are blessed continually and when we open our eyes and take the blinders of prejudice off we cannot see them or properly receive them.
As always I look for your comments and your thoughts on this and any other subject. I want to hear from you and hope that you will join my blog as a follower. It is easy to do, just click on the +1 button on the right hand side just under my profile to join and be a follower. You can also write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit me on Facebook www.facebook.com/bryan_zepp2
All my hopes and dreams,