Thursday, April 29, 2010

Acceptance

Recently, I’ve been invited several times to “join” a Facebook group titled “Everyone Draw Mohammed Day.” Much as I appreciate the sentiment behind these invitations (and some of them are very funny!), I’d rather not be invited to join groups that ridicule people’s belief systems — however implausible these beliefs may be.

I’m more of a “kill them with kindness” type of freethinker. Making fun of people’s beliefs isn’t a practical way to open their minds or hearts. Gentle, respectful debate is much more in line with my humanist ethics.

Most of you reading this have heard Carl Sagan’s admonition to keep an open mind, “but not so open your brains fall out.”[1] On a recent episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” the character Leonard is arguing with his girlfriend, Penny, regarding her belief in psychics. Leonard is a skeptic, and she is hurt by his derisive remarks on the subject. By the end of the episode, he agrees to go visit Penny’s psychic with her, while Penny refuses to read a book debunking psychics. Leonard shrugs and says, “well, at least one of us can keep an open mind.”

That’s how I feel when I talk to theists. Be nice. If you’re invited to come along to temple or church with them, where’s the harm in going? It’s possible to respect the individual, even when you don’t respect their beliefs. In the same way, I’d rather not poke fun at personal beliefs. I encourage you to make an effort to understand the individual, to understand why they believe what they do, and make yourself available to them as a compassionate voice of reason, should they ask for your opinion.

Just my two cents. What do you think?

Love,

Amy Frushour Kelly



[1] Which Chris McDougal recently pointed out was first said by H.L. Mencken, another of my celebrity crushes.