Sick in bed for a few days now and besides reading I have way too much time to think about inconsequential issues. So today’s rant is a bit about one of those issues and the fact that I had too much time to myself. So grab your coffee and let us begin.
Last week I read something in the news and my husband replied that’s how their parents raised them to be.
That got me thinking (trust me, that’s not always a good thing) and I used my own family as an example. I’m the youngest of 4 siblings, our ages range between early forties and early fifties. My father is in his late seventies and my mom just six years younger than him. I know this is boring, but just hang in there… only a few more family details, I will get to my point…. eventually. So my dad is an atheist and my mom a catholic, they both have strong views (and not good ones) on interracial relationships, homosexuals, bisexuals and so forth. But as I look at my siblings I realise (happily by the way) that none of us share their views, we have none of their prejudices. Both my sisters believe in god, but not religion, my brother is catholic and I just don’t believe in any of the above, I have nothing against it, but it really isn’t my cup of tea. Do I qualify as an atheist? Perhaps…..
But that’s another discussion altogether, moving on, I don’t remember my parents ever teaching me to hate or disrespect people with different religious beliefs or people who made sexual choices contrary to their own beliefs of what is normal, however, they often expressed their opinions quite eloquently. But we did not grow up to be like them, so I have to ask, how much are we a product of what our parents and society makes us or are we a product of our own choices?
Based on my own family, I believe we are a product of our own choices. Perhaps in the early years we are indeed what they make us, but with the horrifying teenage years comes change, influence from society and what surrounds us and especially our own choices. It is perhaps easier in a moment of shame or guilt to blame our parents and say that that is how we were raised to be or that it was peer pressure, but the truth is that that it is a lie. They are not to blame, we are all individuals with our own personalities, strengths and weaknesses, we are accountable for our own actions we decide on our own priorities and what is important. Growing up I had my fair share of screw ups, I blame that on my own stubbornness and sometimes less intelligent choices or being too emotional and hot tempered to think things through. Sometimes the filter between my brain and my mouth ceases to function and…… anyway I can’t blame this on my parents.
My parents live in Europe and I don’t see them very often, once every few years. Not by choice, but air travel is not cheap especially to another continent. Earlier this year I had to travel to Europe for work and stopped to see my parents for a few days after four years since my last visit. During a family lunch with extended family members my mother was having a very animated discussion with my uncle on homosexual rights, what she was saying went against everything I believe in, she was insulting (although indirectly) my friends, but did I voice out my opinion. Right, I took the clever (or cowards, depends on how you look at it) way out and kept my mouth shut and didn’t get involved in a discussion that would only lead to shouting, angry emotions and a no win situation. I don’t see them often enough to waste the precious little time I do have with them on discussions that will change absolutely nothing.
In spite of all this I am grateful to them, they did not raise us to be racists or homophobic, they did not force us in or out of religion, they left all these choices to us. So am I a product of their making or of my own choices? How much importance do I give to society and what they think? Not a lot I’m afraid, even in a room full of homophobic people I will always defend LGTB rights. If I’m in a room full of racists I will still defend all other races and if I’m in a room full of religious fanatics I will still defend my right not to believe in what they want me to believe.
Why? Because at the end of the day it does not contribute in the least to my happiness that my neighbour (whom I don’t know) goes home with his/her wife/husband/partner and what they do in the privacy of their home. Because I don’t want to live in a world where I am not free to love my husband and my children, I don’t want anybody dictating to me whom I can and cannot love, I don’t want to be told that I have to believe in God, Allah, Buda or any other God. Perhaps I want to believe in Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, perhaps I want to believe in the pagan Goddess and God and celebrate all the pagan holidays. Why can you be free to choose who you love and what religion you want to believe in and yet you feel you can take my freedom away from the same freedom you have? Do you truly believe in what you are defending or are you a product of what your parents and society has made you?
I hope that you are you a product of your own (good or bad) choices. That is what freedom means, making your own choices and being accountable for them.