I am… June 18, 2008

I am…

This was originally written by Derek, one of our regular commenters here and a personal friend of mine (though sort of indirectly). His intent, in his words, was…

…sort of an attempt to capture in a semi-prosaic form the ways in which I identify with various views and beliefs of people and how no single label describes me completely in a “I believe all this and only this” sense.

He wrote:

I live in a world of people, animals, places, things, ideas, time, space, matter, energy, forces, galaxies, quasars, mesons, and bosons. I live in a universe that seems self-sustaining and acts a whole lot like there’s no God in it. I am an Atheist.

I believe I have not yet sufficiently investigated the myriad of religious, spiritual experiences others claim to have had, and that there are too many well-educated, intelligent people who claim religious belief without a hint of shame, to discount the existence of an otherworld completely. I am an Agnostic.

I believe the teachings of Christ regarding positive social change and mercy to the oppressed are just a bit too clear a message of the gospel to be swept up as a minor sub-plot to securing an eternal country club membership for oneself. I am a Christian.

I believe that by and large, suffering is brought on by the mindless pursuit of people’s desires, and that suffering can be mitigated by increasing one’s awareness, tempering one’s desires, and following a couple relatively intuitive guidelines. I am a Buddhist.

I believe that in small and loosely organized groups of people, the voluntary sharing and distribution of wealth provides badly needed assistance to many without the means to achieve or produce it on their own. I am a Communist.

I believe that governments should not prevent human beings from doing whatever they wish, so long as they are not a danger to others. I believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, not just those who have the means to afford it or who act a certain way or whose skin is a particular color. I am a Liberal.

I believe in the right of all people to seek monetary gain by their own means and increase their standing in society through honest work. I am a Capitalist.

I believe in responsible control of public funds over increased taxation. I support the use of force to prevent one human being from harming another. I am a Conservative.

I believe that no self-sufficient living organism should have to fear a superfluous death for the selfish desires of another. I am pro-life.

I believe that an acorn is not an oak tree, and that what could have been is not what is. I support the right of a family to decide when raising a child is right for them, including in the early weeks of pregnancy, without fear of backlash. I am pro-choice.

I am a person who despises labels and categorizing. I am a whole person with many beliefs and views (some of which are contradictory and conflicted), hopes and dreams, worries and fears, qualities and quirks, delights and aversions. I would prefer that you take the time to get to know me rather than try and pigeonhole me from something someone said about me or something I wrote on a blog at one point or another.

I am a person who has made a conscious choice to make no overt profession of faith or disbelief. And yet, the spiritual journey continues.

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  • Anonymous

    We are the hivemind of the internet. We do not take lightly attacks on the free speech of the intertubes. We are legion. We do not forget. We do not forgive. Expect us. We are Anonymous.

  • Morgan55

    Amen Brother.

  • The Unbrainwashed

    Wow! I’m usually not one to respond to something somewhat mushy like that. but I must say you express yourself wonderfully and it’s sentiment that I agree with (although I really do like labeling myself an Atheist).

  • Xeonicus

    I really enjoyed it, it was a great write up. I see a lot of myself in it too. I feel like this is similar to what I’ve been thinking and trying to say to people for awhile, but could never quite get it out with such eloquence or brevity.

    I can see myself in the future saying to someone “see what this guy wrote”, then directing them to this write up, then saying “see, that’s kind of what I mean.”

    I too hate being pigeonholed and being slapped with a single, all encompassing, negative label that does nothing to describe me. I am much more than someone who just doesn’t believe in God.

  • Pete

    I am greatly in favour of clarifying beliefs. For example, I will clarify that I am a traditional pro-lifer (meaning that I am opposed to all forms of abortion).

    I think that your analogy of comparing an acorn to the human fetus is false. It would be more accurate to compare an acorn to (forgive the uncommon blog language) sperm, and the human fetus to a planted acorn.

    It’s not a big deal, though, because you do make your point clear. Even there, I really appreciate that you were clear.

  • Thank you, Derek. This write up really hit the sweet spot of the bat for me, given my own struggles with labels. It inspires me to want to write down my own “I Am” and lay it all out there.

    I’m reminded of the great Walt Whitman line: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”

  • Great thoughts. Like I’ve always said, it’s not the particular words or labels that are important, but what we mean by them.

  • Mike Nicholson

    I like that, it’s a nice piece of writing.

    Unfortunately I think Derek shoots himself in the foot by applying the religious labels based solely on the values those religions advocate.

    Believing that you should love your neighbour and be excellent to each other does not make you a Christian. It just makes you a nice person. Likewise, believing that the relentless pursuit of material goals contributes to increased suffering does not make one a Buddhist, simply observant.



  • Al

    “I believe that no self-sufficient living organism should have to fear a superfluous death for the selfish desires of another.”

    I am a vegan.

  • To the couple people on here who are trying to analyze and correct, there are several places I left open to objection and criticism because I didn’t feel like writing a thesis justifying each — that would really screw with the intent of the piece.

    Everyone else, thanks so much for your kind words and praise. You’re all just too freaking generous 😉 I admit I wanted so badly to strip out about half of it after my first draft, especially the religiously charged language and the abortion clauses. I stopped myself though, realizing it needed to speak for itself so I let it be.

    And thanks to Mike for reposting this. Hell, I just had this piece forming in my head one morning before work and decided to get it typed out and it seemed “cool” enough that I posted it on my blog. I never expected it to be a hit.

  • Derek,

    It’s beautifully written… very honest and thought-provoking. Yes, some people just cannot accept someone’s genuine expression just the way it is expressed.

    Our thoughts evolve and change… Mine will probably have changed yet again by the time I finish writing this comment. Thank you for not changing your original thought to appease potential readers.

    And thank you for sending me off on my own thought journey for today…


  • On second thought, Al makes a good point. I do actually see wisdom in veganism/vegetarianism. I did try being a veg for a time, but I was mostly miserable and I just didn’t have the discipline to keep it up. Coulda been I just didn’t know enough vegetarian recipes, or maybe I just like steak too much. *shrug*

    Soymilk ain’t half bad though and I’m lactose intolerant, so at least something came of it.

  • Maria

    that was well written

  • Christophe Thill

    This is a great text. But, sorry, this is false :

    “I believe in the right of all people to seek monetary gain by their own means and increase their standing in society through honest work. I am a Capitalist.”

    No, you’re just pro-economic freedom. This is not capitalism. Capitalism is not simply the freedom of private individuals to earn their life the way they choose. Actually, it’s not a matter of private individuals.

    Capitalism requires the use of capital. Capital is money used for the purchase of production factors. A part of it must be used to pay the wages of salarried workers. At the root of the profit you’ll make is the difference between those wages and the value of what is produced. That’s capitalism. It’s roughly simplified. But there are more explanations in books. One of them is rather famous under its original German title: “Das Kapital”. You can call it crap, but not before you’ve read it.

  • This begs to become a blog meme. Excellent work Derek. Thanks for pointing it out, Mike.

    And please, people, try to recognise the difference between time to critique minutiae and time to enjoy a beautiful sentiment.

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