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What I Believe
My father always told me “There are no monsters downstairs. The only thing you should be afraid of in this house is me. Be afraid of what’s blood and flesh and can hurt you, not some imaginary ghost or monster that can’t touch you. ” I grew up with this constant reminder throughout my first years of life until I finally came to terms with my imagination.
I remember listening to my friends telling scary stories during recess when I was in third grade. I was only eight then, but I already had an obstinate belief about what was and wasn’t real, and when to believe in something.
The class clown, Miguel, was always the one to tell the stories. They were either stomach-churningly repulsive—like one about a man that eats eyeballs and cuts faces off of people—or just plain depressing—like the one about the lady that drowned her children. All the kids believed the stories excluding me. I was always the one rolling my eyes and arguing about the credibility of the stories. Then Miguel got to telling stories about “El Diablo”—ohh I’m so scared…NO. I didn’t even know what he was then, except that he was a bad satyr and some guy named “God” sent him underground because he was evil. I said it was a load of dung, making all the kids look at me with their eyes and mouths wide, as if I had just blew fire out of my nose.
“What do you mean you don’t believe in God or the Devil?!” exclaimed one of the kids.
“Don’t you go to church?” another asked.
“No, I don’t, and I go to Church’s Chicken sometimes, if that’s what you mean.”
“You’re going to hell!” one of them hissed.
“El Diablo is going to grab you at night!” Miguel said.
I crossed my arms and rolled my eyes. “Let him come. What isn’t real can’t harm me. Only nature can harm me,” I said defiantly. They were all getting extremely annoying. What was this thing they were so worked up about? They made it sound more important than Santa or the Tooth Fairy, and everyone knew by now that Santa was actually dad, and T. Fairy mom. Who didn’t?
“He’ll come, you’ll see,” Miguel grinned and laughed a little, the sort of smile and laugh that showed he knew it wouldn’t happen but would enjoy to see me scared at night because I thought some minotaur was going to come get me. Puh-lease.
“Ok, I’ll be waiting for him.”
That’s how the hostilities between myself against religion began.
Of course, Nevil never came. Or was his name Devil? Who cares, the rest of elementary blew by, and no one had bothered me again about whether I believed in Devil or God.
I moved on to middle school, and it was in sixth grade Global Studies that I learned what religion actually meant and that there were over hundreds of religions in the world. Devil and God weren’t the only religious characters, but also YHWH, Allah, Shiva, some saints, a monk named Buddha, and more. Then I learned how “God” was from Christianity, which later branched off into Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant, etc.
One day, while in class, I thought, Hey, if Jesus, Mohamed, Calvin and Martin and all these other guys made their own religion, hell, I could too. I’ve always, since sixth grade, wondered how people could believe in what other people tell them about how a god came to give them specific instructions for mankind—for example, the Ten Commandments, which the Israelites believed to be true, just because Mohammed claimed it’s what their god told him, or the case with Calvin, who claimed sort of the same thing (excluding the commandments part). I would much rather believe someone who told me they saw a unicorn. I can at least logically assume that a donkey mated with a goat somehow and phenomenally bred a hybrid gonkey with a single horn, and that that’s what they saw.
I also heard a lot of stories from different friends of mine about how their god helped them get through a certain situation, or helped to change as a person, but the way they described the stories, it made their god seem like a crutch for a sprained ankle or a good-luck charm that people are set on believing gives them luck, and then they lose that charm, and see how it was never the charm at all, but themselves all along.
That’s why I never even considered religion once I learned about it. Sure, it’s a cool subject, like reading Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter books, but other than that, I wouldn’t believe in a “God”. That would be like believing Voltemort was the devil and Dumbledorf was god or something. At least, that’s the way that I saw it.
That’s the way I was raised all my life. Believe in flesh and bone. Believe in yourself, that you have your own power, that you’re the writer of your own book. No one else can bring you down unless you decide it, and that’s that.