In this blog, I’ve expressed a lot about myself and my upbringing.  I’ve talked about many different events that have shaped and molded me into what I am today.  But one thing I haven’t touched upon practically at all, is the actual physical environment that I grew up in; where I come from.  And I’m a believer that we are predominantly products of our environment, we are fashioned by all that’s around us.  So where you get your start, where your formative years take place, that’s integral in what you will become in the end.  Or so it would seem anyways.

My hometown is a small, rural town, population of roughly 3,500 people.  Our biggest focal point is a Wal-Mart, that hasn’t even been here all that long.  The community consists mostly of farmers and factory workers, there’s not much room for anything else really.  This is a very conservative area, as most small towns tend to be.  There’s a heavy leaning towards right wing Republican, and we have more churches than I care to count.  Churches of various denominations, but primarily of a Judeo-Christian base(a couple of Catholic churches thrown in for good measure; ya know, shake things up a bit.)  A community that seems to be afraid of progress of any kind.  A community that hates homosexuals.  Is terrified of marijuana.  Xenophobes that are fearful of any outside influence, and seem to think that if you visit a large city, you will be shot dead in an instant.  A racist community that frowns upon interracial relationships. If you think about it, that’s an exhausting amount of bigotry and hatred.

They put faith and religion above all else, and honestly, that’s where a lot of the bigotry and hatred comes from.  It comes from the bible.  Flag waving bible-thumpers who would rather silence any opposition than to hear them out.  I remember as a child seeing people holding up signs of dead fetuses, signs that read “God hates faggots,” etc.  We still have anti-abortion billboards scattered all throughout the area.  The influence of religion is so huge in this area, it is borderline disturbing.  I am completely OK with a person being religious, people can think and do whatever they want to do, fine by me.  But for it to carry such clout, this day in age, seems silly to me.  What this says to me is that the people in charge here, the people passing laws in my area, are the same people who believe in a floating kingdom in the sky.  They believe in Noah’s Ark, Jonah and the whale, and a man being resurrected from the dead.  Fairy tale stories from an archaic time.  Not to mention the majority of these people are massive hypocrites.

Here, and in most of America, which is obviously the only place I can speak for, the theistic hive-mind seem to practice what appears to me to be a sort of “moderate Christianity.”  Meaning that they don’t necessarily take the bible word-for-word, they claim much of it to be allegory(though I’m skeptical that many even know what that word means.)  They don’t follow the 10 commandments to a tee, claiming that times have changed and it’s OK to maybe take the lords name in vain on occasion.  It’s OK to skip the day of Sabbath every now and again.  So you slept with another man’s wife?  Oh well, shit happens, times have changed.  Covet this, covet that.  I think it’s fair to say that most people who would consider themselves Christian, probably don’t even know the 10 commandments, let alone follow them.  But this seems strange to me, because the bible is the word of god, is it not?  Maybe not directly, but God spoke them to Paul and other apostles.  So, if this is the word of your god, how can you take that lightly?  When your soul is on the line, and eternal damnation awaits those who stray.  If you truly believe in heaven and hell, how can you possibly take the word of your lord god moderately?  

I could go on forever giving examples as to why I find religion to be silly.  But that’s just my opinion, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s OK if you want to believe that, it really is.  I have no quarrel with it.  But when you start imposing laws and passing ordinances based on an ancient, fictional doctrine.  That’s when I have a problem. 

But I digress, I’m focusing a bit too much on religion.  But that should give you an idea of the mindset of the area I was born in.  And you may wonder why, if we are such products of our environment, do my beliefs differ so much from those around me?  Well, having many friends from many different backgrounds helped me a lot.  I grew up with and admired some very strong minded individuals, ones who would always question authority when they saw fit to.  But the biggest factor in becoming who I am today, is the internet.  The internet allowed me to see things from a million different perspectives.  It taught me that there’s more out there than what I could ever possibly know.  People in other parts of the world don’t even practice Christianity, and probably know nothing about it; and they get along just fine.  I started to question so many things as I researched on my own.  This is something I’m actually very proud of.  Because, here in 2014, it’s becoming more and more common for people to be atheist, for people to accept gay marriage, etc.  But back in 1996, in small town USA, it was extremely rare to think this way.  I can remember being playfully ridiculed by friends for my views on religion.  My own friends and classmates jokingly telling me to, “have fun burning in hell.”  But I was never deterred, I’ve held fast to those same beliefs for 15 years now, and I believe them more strongly than ever today.

We should not be so afraid of change, we should embrace it really.  I fear that the area I live in is many years behind even the rest of the country, which in turn is also slow to change.  This is an area of churches and guns, and it’s just not for me.  Bill Hicks once said that we have 2 main choices in life, fear and love.  Fear tells you to buy more guns and put bigger locks on your doors.  Love tells us that we are all one and to accept others for who they are.  The area I live in is dominated by fear.  It’s sad really, and I just want to get out of here.