Thursday, July 4, 2013
Don't Be a Jerk
My Facebook Status: “I had a proud anti-religion-mommy moment this morning when my daughter (who won the citizenship award at school last year and a humanity award this year) asked me what ‘sin’ means because she saw it in a book.”
My friend: “and what did you tell her?”
Me: “I told her it was a religious term. That some people think you can go to hell when you commit a sin, or an act considered against a church ‘law.’ I said it's a concept used to scare people into behaving themselves.”
Me: “The official dictionary definition is: A way for mommy to offend people on Facebook first thing in the morning.”
I know some people think I am anti-god, although, I am not actually egotistical enough to think that I can know whether or not there is a god. I do like to joke about it though, much like I joke about everything else that I sit around contemplating. I think, more accurately, I would describe myself as anti-religion. I am aware that there are some positive, productive religions out there, but I grew up in a guilt-soaked, money-grubbing, controlling religious culture that my parents eventually rejected and that I would rather not subject my children to.
I would like my kids to explore religious philosophies on their own terms, when they are older and less naïve and susceptible to believing anything a trusted adult (especially me) tells them. For now I am working on teaching them to be good people. I have some basic life rules that I try to relay to them so they can learn to lead a good life.
1. Don’t be a jerk. This one is a great rule to follow throughout your life. Life is hard; don’t make it worse for other people. Try to be a bright spot as much as possible. The legacy you leave is going to be based on your interactions with other people, make them pleasant.
2. Don't let other people be jerks. I never believed in standing idly by and witnessing asshole-ish behavior without saying something to the prick in question. My preferred method of stopping bully-ish behavior is humorous shaming.
3. Apologize if you accidentally act like a jerk. We’re humans, we all make mistakes. The important thing is to apologize for them.
4. If family members act like jerks, run away and change your phone number. Your relationship with them is purely circumstantial anyway. It is nothing to rest your laurels on. Family members don’t get an out for bullying because they are family. Ditch the toxic people in your life. Ditch them quickly.
5. Be nice to the nerds and social misfits. Nerds are the people who turn out to be the most interesting, intelligent, and successful adults. The social misfits may just be socially awkward, which they will eventually grow out of or they are crazy. If the person is mentally unstable, you don’t want to be number one on their murdering rampage list, so, again, it’s best to be kind (I think this was an idea from a George Carlin or Dane Cook show or both, but I’m too lazy to find it). Besides, it will be neat when they invite you to their art shows.
6. Be yourself, especially when other people don't like it. This is a fun way to lead your life and will lead to less therapy bills. This life rule is more about walking your own path with your own ideals based on reason and empathy. Don’t follow the crowd, 98% of them are the jerks and idiots you don’t want to resemble.
7. Don’t be smelly. This rule makes life more pleasant for those around you. It is the ultimate kind act.
There are a couple of good rules in the ten commandments (the ones that aren’t all about blindly worshipping one specific guy/image), such as “thou shalt not kill.” That really should be in a “being a good person for dummies” book though. If you raise caring, thoughtful, empathetic children, in a healthy environment, this is a no-brainer. Thou shalt not steal, should say, thou shalt not steal or break the law in any manner, you dumbass, because you’ll go to jail and it will be a rather unpleasant experience that will haunt you your entire life. Thou shalt not commit adultery is reasonable as well. After all, adults who cheat are selfish, attention-seeking prats looking for an ego boost. That is not someone you want to develop a relationship with.
I actually started writing this blog post a year ago, but the last time I posted an anti-religion blog some dandy follower told me I was going to hell, 'cause that's what good Christians do. So let’s add one final rule to the list, don’t go around telling good people they are going to hell because their beliefs don’t resemble yours. Oh wait, I already have this one as number one on my list. Simply put, don’t be a jerk.