Yes, I’ve decided to go there. Why in the world would I go there on a blog about Urban Homesteading? Because, unfortunately, politics gets involved. There are city codes, zoning laws, town meetings, laws about keeping pets and livestock, rules about what you can and cannot have in your front yard, how high your fences can be… it goes on and on. Why the religion? Because stuff comes up. Also, anytime someone is a “homesteader” or “prepper,” the topic comes up. Sometimes people take a homesteader more seriously if they’re doing it for environmental reasons. Sometimes people take a homesteader more seriously if they’re doing it for religious reasons. For me, it’s definitely a mix.
With my religion helping me pinpoint my principles and values, those principles and values help guide me in my political choices, how I treat the environment, and how I approach the world. Some people may think it’s ridiculous, and that’s OK. Everyone has principles and values, and we all get them from somewhere. It’s perfectly alright if you’re a devout atheist who thinks there’s no reason for the existence of religion. You still have your own principles and values that guide you in how you treat others. Same thing with mine.
I’ve always tried to let principles and values guide me. Unfortunately I got caught up in the “my side is right” and “your side is wrong” mentality. In truth, no one side is absolutely right, and no one side is absolutely wrong. Things are much more complicated than that. That’s where things get sticky.
It’s easy to say, “I’m a Liberal” or “I’m a conservative” or “I’m a Democrat” or “I’m a Republican.” It’s so easy to swallow the lines fed to us by Fox News or the Huffington Post. It’s so easy to follow party lines and say that we’re right and the other side is wrong. It’s easy to be smug because we can regurgitate the party line or the catch phrase of the day. It’s easy to point our fingers at the politicians on the other side and ignore the sins of our own. It’s easy when we don’t have to analyze or think or research or stretch or grow or support a point of view or listen or understand or see things from another perspective. It’s easy to be angry and self righteous and defensive and “right.”
Or is it?
Those things may be easy, but they never bring peace.
So what does bring me peace in the political realm? Principles and values. If I know what my principles and values are, then I can compare everything else to those principles and values and I find my path. This is where religion comes in.
Please bear with me while I give an example:
Some people have a religious dogma that helps them understand why stealing is wrong. For some people that reason lies with the Ten Commandments. For others it’s about Karma. For some people it’s about sending to the Universe what you would like to receive back. For others of no “religious persuasion” they may understand that stealing is wrong simply because they wouldn’t want it done to them.
I believe stealing is wrong. It’s not right if I do it. It’s not right if you do it. It’s not right if the government does it. If I’m in a discussion about a particular bill, I can bring up the principle that stealing is wrong. Does the person I’m talking to also believe that stealing is wrong? Why do they think that? How does that show in their lives? Then we can look at the actual bill and decide together, “Does this qualify as stealing? Why or why not? Is stealing wrong only if it’s done by or to certain people? Is this bill fine, then? If not, then how do we change it? What is good about it? Why? What is bad about it? Why? What are some possible unintended consequences? Would the implementation of this bill increase or decrease someone else’s liberty?”
This is definitely NOT easy.
This is not one side or the other. It’s researching. It’s understanding. It’s breaking things down to their very core. That is the type of discussion I love.
We can have that type of discussion about religion as well. I can learn about what you believe and why you believe it. I don’t have to agree. I would also like to be heard in a similar manner. I don’t expect you to agree with me. I can hear about what you believe and why you believe it without taking it personally or as some sort of criticism of my own beliefs. I hope that you can do the same.
I expect that my Taboo posts will be few and far between. when I do post on the Taboo, I will endeavor to focus on the underlying principles and values involved. I hope that doing so would be helpful to myself and others.
I would love to tell you more about me and my beliefs, but in doing so I would like to avoid labels. In other posts I mention my religious affiliation however right now I’d like to not do that. Why? Because of the preconceived notion associated with the labels. I would like you to see me for me, not the predefined caricature that has been assigned to various labels.
If I were to tell you that I’m Muslim, what would that caricature be? What about Catholic or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist? What about Baptist or Mormon or Atheist or Wiccan or Pagan or Evangelical? Let’s not start with a caricature of who you think I am, and I’ll not start with a caricature of who I think you are.
Same thing with politics.
So here are some things about me:
Politics: Maximum Liberty. I love the Constitution. I think many of our problems would dissolve if we got government out of the picture. The federal government exists to secure the borders, negotiate trade, and then get out of the way. If it doesn’t “pick my pocket or break my leg” I have no comment. Moving on…
Religion: Not going to go too deep right now only because I wish to avoid the labels that will surely come. I believe in a higher power to whom we are accountable. Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ. Do I think you’re “going to Hell” if you don’t believe in Jesus? Nope. There’s a lot I believe about Jesus, but there’s not enough time right now for me to express just how wonderful a person I think He is. How about I keep things general for right now and try to relate a few of the principles and values I have to people from a wide spectrum of belief systems? (And no, this is in no way “denying my faith.” I’m just not “dumping” all of my beliefs on perfect strangers in my first conversation with them. I think that’s just being polite.)
I think the Ten Commandments are pretty sage advice for how we can live and treat each other. I think most religions have some version of them, and even Atheists who have a code of ethics can agree that society would be pretty nifty keen if people would, of their own free will and choice, try to live them.
One God – Do you have a God? A Higher Power? Even if that Higher Power is an AA group? What about your family? Nature or the Earth? Do you have someone or something that you feel accountable to? Who do you look up to and wish to emulate? Are you faithful to that Higher Power, or do you sway between that power/ideal and something lower than you should expect from yourself?
No Graven Images that We Bow Down To – Do we create something for ourselves (or allow society to do so) for which we will compromise our other loyalties and standards? Do we eschew the higher standard of Kindness for the “graven image” of popularity? Do we sacrifice our own bodies for an unrealistic ideal of beauty? Do we put our things before our families? Do we say the Earth is our higher power but we refuse to recycle because it’s too much trouble? To what or whom do we really “bow down to?”
Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain – I know people who are not deists who will freely use the words God or Jesus because they do not believe in them as real and actual people. They are free to do so. I don’t use those names freely because I do regard them as actual people. This “commandment” is about keeping the sacred as sacred. Do we take special things and treat them as naught? Do we destroy a confidence? Do we go out of our way to tear down something that is sacred to someone else? I wouldn’t ever defile or vandalize a prayer rug. Aside from the fact that it would be a form of stealing, it would lower myself down because I am being profane and disrespecting that which is special and sacred. We do the same thing when we try to tear down another person’s beliefs. I don’t need to argue with someone about their beliefs. I don’t need to try to convince them they’re wrong or lead some sort of crusade against them. Truth stands on its own. If I truly believe that I’m right, then it should be of no concern to me that someone believes differently. It’s about being respectful – especially when we disagree with another’s faith or point of view.
Remember the Sabbath Day by Keeping it Holy – How would the world be different if everyone chose to take one day a week to focus on the things they find most important. Would we have more marriages? Would we have fewer divorces? Would we find less mental illness in the world? Would there be greater friendships? Would we as individuals feel more balanced and focused? Even if your “God” is your motorcycle, how much better would your life be if you took that one day a week to focus on something to do with motorcycles? How much better would all our lives be if we each took that one day a week to focus on that which inspires us to do better and be better? For me, I try to take that one day to focus on gratitude, worship, and my family. I have my own way of doing this and it helps keep me a happy person. How would your life change if you were to take that one day a week to focus on your “higher power?”
Honor your Father and Your Mother – Entire books have been written on this concept and how it applies if your parents are not people who should be emulated. To me, that’s not the point to address at this time. Give thanks for those who sacrifice for you. Respect the advice of those older. We don’t necessarily need to agree with or follow that advice, but we should take it under consideration. We should be teachable and able to learn from others. We should show kindness to those who have lived longer and therefore may have become physically or mentally weaker than we are. What does it do to our own soul (or inherent being if you don’t believe in a “soul”) when we treat others with kindness? What does it do to us when we don’t? Be someone who could bring honor to your parents when someone says to them, “Oh! You’re _____’s parents! I’m so honored to meet you.” How amazing would the world be if we all would live in such a way that someone could say that to our parents? How would your life change?
Don’t Murder – Not killing someone for the sake of monetary gain, convenience, entertainment, etc., should not be a difficult concept. So, if you don’t want to kill someone for your own convenience, don’t drink and drive. There are a lot of places we could go with this. Want to cut corners on that construction project? Not only are you lying and stealing, you could be taking someone’s life for your own gain and convenience. If everyone would adhere to this one concept alone, can you imagine how life could be? (The topics of the death sentence, abortion, war… not going there right now. Maybe not ever in such a public forum. Different topics, different days.) It’s about thinking about consequences – both intended and unintended – of our behavior.
Don’t Commit Adultery – Duh. If you’re in a committed relationship of some sort, why would you cheat on someone? Even in your mind? If you’re committed, be committed. If you don’t want to be committed, don’t commit in the first place. Yes, the topic of sexual purity can go much further. However, for now, let’s focus on this. Be Loyal. Be loyal to the right people and keep your priorities. Feel like you don’t love your spouse any more? If there’s not abuse, adultery, or addiction, then the relationship can be saved if both people want it to be saved. Go on a date together. Go on lots of dates. Talk about the job and the kids and the house and your dreams and your aspirations. Listen to your beloved do the same. Don’t spend your time on porn thinking about other people. Be loyal. Have a strong relationship. Be who you need to be to have a good one. You can’t control what other people do, but you can control yourself. What would our world be like if everyone were loyal to their spouses/significant others? How would society in general change?
Don’t Steal – There’s lots of ways to steal, aren’t there? There’s taking stuff. There’s keeping the too-much-change when you leave the store. There’s skimping on the quality of workmanship. (I’m not talking about “you get what you pay for.” I’m talking about charging $45 for something that’s really worth $30 to someone who thinks they’re getting $45 quality.) There’s polluting a river – you’re stealing clean water from someone else. There’s stealing someone else’s freedom to choose. There’s stealing someone’s sense of safety. There’s all sorts of ways to steal. If no one would steal, would we even need the police?
Don’t Lie – What if we take that a step further and say, “Be Honest.” One can be honest with kindness and tact, but we shouldn’t lie. Not even to ourselves. So let’s not lie on our taxes, be disingenuous in a political discussion, be unfair when playing games, or omit information to intentionally lead someone to a false conclusion.
Don’t Covet – Wanting other people’s stuff leads to a whole bunch of other mess. Even if we don’t steal or lie or kill because of it, we sure can make ourselves unhappy. There are people who have more than us. There are people who have less. There are people who have the same amount of stuff as we do, but we think theirs is better. How about we turn that around and say, “Be Grateful.” How much happier would we, as individuals, be if we were all grateful? How much more would we share with those less fortunate? If everyone chose to be grateful, would we need so much governmental intrusion? If we were all so grateful that we would share what we have, would there be any poor? If we are grateful in our poverty or “brokeness” (that’s also another topic for another day) would we be able to drop the pride that might keep us from accepting help or taking that job that we used to think was beneath us? Let’s be grateful regardless of our circumstances. It’s just a much happier place to be.
How’s that for a start? Maximum liberty. Be decent to others and ourselves so we can handle maximum liberty. That’s pretty much what it all boils down to for me. What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment.
Note: I do pre-approve all comments before allowing them to be published. Why? Because I have some young readers and I wish to be considerate to them. If you wish to express disagreement, I think that’s healthy and fine. Please just be polite and use clean language. If I cannot approve a post, I will try to contact you and let you know why. Then you can have a chance to re-word your comments so you can be heard and understood. Thanks.