A congenial, Southern, atheist, bisexual, vegetarian woman devoted to equality for all. Loves to amuse and be amused. | @hypochristi
So we’ve all heard of the Ten Commandments, the big no-nos in Christian ethics. It’d be simple to sit here and write how each one of these “sins” are bogus, but that’s been done time and time again. Instead, I’ve devised ten guidelines I live by as a secular humanist. Notice I say guidelines, since “rules” sounds dogmatic.
I’m a mere twenty-one years old. I don’t claim to have all the answers or expect my fellow skeptics to uphold the exact principles that I choose to. My only goal is to show how I’ve shaped my life around reality and personal life-experiences, as opposed to a baseless set of rules imposed on everyone. Life is not one-set-of-rules-fits-all.
1. Make every day count. I have no superpowers, but I’ve got lots of days ahead of me. I don’t have to do something extraordinary to make a difference. I shoot smiles at people I don’t know. I post publicly about my most personal life struggles (such as my long-term battle with anxiety and coming out atheist and bisexual) to show others who are in the same boat as I was that they aren’t alone. I tell my loved ones they’re loved every day, just in case they’re not here tomorrow. I volunteer for the causes I believe in whenever I can, whether that’s cleaning up the side of the road, donating blood, or walking lonely dogs at the local shelter. I want to die knowing I’ve used my talents to make the world a better place.
2. Try not to worry about what I cannot change. This is a pretty common standard to live by, but it still holds true for me. I can’t win my ongoing battle with anxiety if I continue to worry about matters I have no control over. In the past year especially, I’ve forced myself to take a step back and evaluate what is truly important. My sexuality is here to stay and there’s nothing wrong with the way it is. There are always going to be people who dislike me despite not knowing me at all. I know I can’t save all the homeless animals out there, as much as I hate the thought of it. I don’t have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders when the responsibility was never placed on me in the first place.
3. Stop dwelling on mistakes after learning all I can from them. I’m especially guilty of forgetting this one. Part of me moves forward while the stubborn part of me looms in the past. I’ve hurt people (including myself) on accident and on purpose. There’s some overlap with acknowledging these mistakes as things I can’t change. I’m able to try to mend the situation, but there’s no taking back what I’ve done entirely. It’s time to stop dwelling once I figure out everything I did wrong, how I can attempt to fix it, and how to prevent the same situation in the future. Any further speculation is self-destructive and unnecessary.
4. Say what I need to say, when I need to say it. I’m a soft-spoken person that lets things go unsaid more than she should, especially when conflict might be involved. I accomplish nothing by staying silent about issues that matter to me just because my viewpoint isn’t the popular one. Issues like LGBT rights and church/state separation matter a great deal to me and I feel passing up an opportunity to stand up for these causes is contradictory to my insistence that I care. I’m not contributing to progress if my voice is unheard.
5. Love those who deserve it and waste no love on the ones who don’t. I grapple with this concept frequently. I try too hard to get along with people who are absolutely vile. I won’t let go of someone I love (as a friend, a romantic interest, whatever the case may be) without exhausting every possible solution, even when the other person isn’t trying to save the relationship. Although the human heart has no limit on how much you can love someone or how many people you’re capable of loving, it only takes one undeserving asshole to divert your attention away from the people who truly love you. I’d rather spend my time nurturing the mutual bonds I already have as well as creating new ones with promising people than to worry about staying on good terms with someone who clearly gave up a long time ago.
6. Let go of my pride and stubbornness when I need help. Like it or not, there’s no way I’m able to solve all the problems that come my way. Waiting until I’m at the point of desperation is not the time to reach out for help. I figured this out the hard way when I was escorted out of my dorm room on August 25th of last year by the campus police for a mental evaluation. I’d decided to cut up my arm instead of talking to someone. Since that eye-opening day, I’ve been free of self-injury. I’m more open about when I’m under great deals of stress so it can be managed in a timely way. I had to realize that asking for help made me a stronger person. Putting up with problems just to prove how long I can do so spells disaster.
7. Take nothing for granted. Each morning, I wake up thankful my body is still in working order. Not everyone can see, hear, speak, or walk. I’m lucky to be able to do these things. I might complain at times that I hate how short I am, but then remember that there are advantageous qualities to being short, such as appearing younger than my actual age. I might envy a friend for having the most technologically advanced phone to date, but I do have a phone that works. I might bitch about having a long paper to write, but I’m fortunate to be receiving a higher education. You get the point.
8. Choose my battles carefully. As much as I want to set every idiot out there straight, it’s an impossible task. Say someone comes up to me and says my tattoo is offensive and “wrong.” Is it really worth the effort to convince them otherwise? Probably not. The person will eventually go away, but the tattoo won’t. I have no obligation to engage morons in petty exchanges. I save my energy for the problems that won’t go away so easily, like religion in politics.
9. Never lose sight of who I am. It’s inevitable that life changes, but the core of who I am shouldn’t. That’s not saying I refuse to improve myself in areas I’m weak in. I simply won’t give up what makes me Christi. I make Spongebob references and jokes on a daily basis. My driving force in life is acting like a role model for my kid brother. I’ll stop and meow at a stray cat, even if passersby make fun of me. I love randomly practicing my hook kicks in public. You’re not obligated to keep me around if I don’t sound like your kind of person. What you see is what you get.
10. The Golden Rule – Treat others as I want to be treated. Don’t need to go into much detail with this one. I’m only responsible for my behavior. In most instances, the way I act toward people is the way that I’ll get treated in return. Should that not be the case, at least I won’t be the one who looks like an asshole. Treating people well for the sake of a favorable afterlife or a monetary reward doesn’t interest me. Each person has the ability to show the world the good side of human nature. It’s my responsibility as someone who tries to be good to do her best.
Category: Atheism & Religion