I am what I am. Nice sentiment that. But is it that simple? Whatever we are now, we all began as something else. Personally, I'm far more partial to the view that "I am what I choose to accept I am", and "I am what I want to be".
Self-acceptance - the acceptance of the person we are, with whatever defects and flaws - imperfections - and even our perfections, determines who we are and who we become. How can we work towards becoming anything else if we don't even know who we are now? How can you chart a course from A to B if you don't even know where A is, or where B is in relation to you? If you don't even know what your own strengths and weaknesses - and character flaws are - how can you know what to work on, and where to improve, and what to leave behind?
We are all, each of us, many different things. Nobody is simply going to identify themselves as just one of their interests or characteristics. Rather, we are each a sum of all the things we feel, are interested in, or focus on. Nobody is going to go through life seeing themselves as "just" a catholic, "only" a methodist, "solely" a white person, or "exclusively" a cancer victim.
Seems to me, that in some countries, people scapegoating "witches" for their perceived misfortunes hasn't brought them any closer to a new Burning Time - so now they seek new groups to blame their ill-fortune on. In Iraq, the target is "Emo" children, "satanists" and "vampires"... people who, like the "witches" - are accused on suspicion, and brutally tortured and murdered for having committed no crime against anyone, but for simply looking or dressing differently, or for not believing the same thing as them. Christian organizations and figures on the world stage, and in regional communities, have been silent about this matter - but I suppose since nobody has been killing Christians in Iraq the way they have been killing other minority groups and sub-cultures, they're ok and so everything is just peachy.
If you look at the lives of the founders of various religions around the world - and in particular Christianity, this seems to me a bit like saying "I'm a Christian" - just because I can hear the church bells ring from where I live. Yes sir - and if I stand in a garage, that makes me a car.
Religious leaders of all kinds - but most especially these days, the ones who hold political sway and social influence - like to point fingers at the groups it suits them to hate - and to paint them as "threats" and "dangers" to their fargile grip on power, reality and sanity.
Ironically these people - and many of their followers, will thank a deity for "letting" them win a race, but blame a "witch" if they stumble, or "tolerance of homosexuality in society", and look for the nearest suspect, and kill them. Why not blame the deity? Why not accept the setback as easily as they accept the victory?
Time people grew up some, I think - and stopped looking for theoretical "somebodies" to blame for their own misfortunes - and started to take responsibility and accountability for the state of their own lives and the condition of their own circumstances. If you win, by all means, be humble and accept the laurels of victory - if you suffer loss or ill fortune, accept the truth of this with good grace, and accept the blame or responsibility as easily as you would the victory. Nobody is perfect - not even oneself - and realizing and accepting this is part of self-acceptance - and part of accepting reality.
Some things just are our own fault.
If I drop a hammer on my toe - was it "God's" fault? Was it the old lady next door's fault, whom I can accuse of "bewitching me"? If my car breaks - is it society's fault for tolerating the gay couple across the street and for not picketing their wedding? You don't like it? Wear steel caps, or stop playing with hammers, f.f.s, or get a new car.
People - particularly christianist funadamentalist fanatic types, tend to view my advocacy for human rights as being "militant" and "anti-christian", and even anti-religious. Really?
Just because I am a witch and a pagan, fighting for equality and human rights, highlighting and hindering human rights abuses - does it make me "anti-christian" - or anti any other religion or religious freedom for anybody to believe whatever they like? People need to grasp the difference between a right to BELIEVE something and a right to injure or harm others OUT OF those beliefs - and to question everything in a belief system that urges them to do harm.
Is this man a "christian"? Does he speak for the Most High? This is proof in my opinion, that as long as there are people in authority who are too stupid to read and understand things in their historical and cultural context, they will be out there leading people into genocide and hatred.
Food for thought: Christians believe their God gave us all free will - strange that for over 2000 years, they have tried to take that choice away.
That pastor is actively calling for people to be killed. This is public incitement to murder. The target group has been identified, vilified, dehumanized, and is being separated from the mainstream by fear. The newspaper should not have printed that speech or article by the pastor - but rather, it is supporting the incitement to murder and promulgating it without apparent fear of legal repercussions. In my opinion, this qualifies as something which the UN Genocide Watch/working group should be notified about. Many who read this article will agree with this 'pastor'. I for one, do not.
Many haters and bigots leading charges against equality and human rights like to make use of the abused quotation: "Evil prospers when good people do nothing." They use it to convince people who think of themselves as "good" people, to do evil in the name of good. And so they say, "Evil prospers when good people do nothing". And I say:
Who will stop evil when it masquerades as good?
Many religious right figures demonize those making efforts to keep governments and laws secular, and to advance human rights and equalities. They make them out to be "agents of evil".
Simple fact - secularists and humanists and human rights activists are not the people out in the world trying to kill people, or trying to force them to change their beliefs. By contrast, look at the people doing the killing and the oppressing, and in whose name they are doing it - then come back and tell me what you've seen, if you can manage to look me in the eye.
People everywhere attend their religious services, putting on smiling faces and accepting that because they are all there together, they are all "good people", and enjoy that status and respect because they all believe the same thing, and all carry the same membership card. They will dump money into a receptacle being passed round, which only goes to help those who believe as they do - but will they ever open their hearts and their homes to someone who asks them for help - someone they don't know, or someone who doesn't carry the same membership card - or even a friend who has fallen on hard times? Or do they turn them away?
"It's not my problem."
People need to stop thinking of themselves as "the good guy" just because they have a membership card to a specific religious organization - or because they are more fanatical or religious than their neighbor - and to start validating their consideration that they are "good people" through their actions.
They should stop doing "good works" just because they expect something in return from the receiver, or from others who see them doing their good works - and instead do it to see the smile of those they help, to be satisfied that the person they help will live easier, or for another day because of them. And above all - take to heart that "I'm okay - so fuck you, Jack" is not the attitude of a "good person". Anybody can say they are a "good person" - but only a good person will ACT like a good person. Christian scriptures say "by their fruits you shall know them". Indeed.
You're a good person, eh? Prove it.