Find Your Nonage

Of all the beliefs that I hold, the most significant is probably my faith in the mundane. I no longer believe in anything remotely spiritual, supernatural, paranormal, or mystical, though I once did. From religion to ghosts to ESP, I find all forms of magical phenomenon to be unlikely at best, if not entirely ridiculous. I was religious until about the age of 17, when my family moved and I attended a non-religious, public school for the first time.

Many things went into shaping these beliefs of mine (or lack thereof), starting with my appreciation for objectivity and empiricism. If something cannot be proven with evidence, there is no reason to believe in it. I’ve never really been able to be convinced by something that has no evidence to support it. More significantly, perhaps, is the fact that I’ve never once experienced any sort of fantastical event myself. I’ve never heard the voice of god (despite many years of religious devotion), I’ve never seen the ghostly faces of dead loved ones, never had prophetic dreams or visions of the future. It seems to me that if any of these phenomena or beings truly existed, I would have witnessed at least one of them by now, especially after years of believing in them. Perhaps most notably, however, is the lack of faith people seem to have in their own beliefs. So often people will claim to be religious and believe completely the words of their holy text, and yet will ignore parts of it that even they find too far beyond reasonable belief. This wouldn’t have bothered me so much, I think, if it hadn’t also extended to things like morality.

A lifetime of believing in evidence and objectivity can make it difficult to appreciate the subjective experiences of others, however. Many people regularly claim to feel the presence of god, have true “out-of-body” experiences, make contact with deceased loved ones, or heal themselves with powerful crystals. While I find none of those experiences convincing in the least, people who put less stock in purely concrete evidence would likely find these occurrences quite convincing, especially when they seem to be more convenient, easier, or more enjoyable alternatives to otherwise realistic solutions. And of course, with so many people finding religion worth their while, it’s not surprising that there are so many people who find solace in faith: even when they aren’t hearing the voice of god, they still have each other to turn to for reinforcement of their beliefs. 

Christianity & Creationism

One belief I hold strongly is the belief that God created the earth and all of its inhabitants. I grew up in a Christian home, where I was taken to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. I was constantly surrounded by religion. As I matured, I found myself accepting a lot of views and beliefs without ever thinking that the things I was being taught may not be accurate or even true.

When you are constantly bombarded with some piece of information – whether it be true or absolutely ridiculous – for long enough, it will start to become a normal fixture in your set of beliefs. You won’t even think to question the validity of the information or reliability of its source. For example, in the fifteenth century, people believed the world was flat. They never questioned this idea. They even went so far as to discredit anyone who believed otherwise, even when there was concrete evidence to disprove their strongly held yet erroneous conclusion.

Similar to this fifteenth century belief, the belief that God created the earth and all living things was instilled in me my whole life. It never crossed my mind to doubt the validity of the idea. In fact, I don’t remember hearing anything otherwise until half way through middle school when my science class covered the Big Bang Theory. Before that day, I had never thought to question my belief. I was torn between a belief I held my entire life and the facts presented in my textbook.

People from a different part of the world will likely hold an entirely different belief  set than how my feelings about God and creationism have developed.  Those from other religious backgrounds, such as those from Buddhism or Hinduism, believe in the continuing essence of a soul and that God is in everything. The subject of the ultimate creator is not settled on an eternal omniscient being, but rather on the contribution of all souls to the living planet.

The overall influence of God in my life has been significant. And, I suspect that the overall influence of the Buddhist way is significant in those who follow that religion. The societies in which we live both function well, but the societal norms in each part of the world (the United States versus India, for example) vary greatly because of the religious authority felt and imposed on the people.

It is easy to see how someone coming from a different religious upbringing would hold a different belief about this topic than me. If I hadn’t grown up being taught three times a week about God, the Creator of All Things, I probably wouldn’t believe the Creation theory myself.

Family over everything

By Richard Derderian

There aren’t many convictions that I hold onto with 100% certainty, but one that I do hold onto is the belief that a caring and supportive family are key to a wholesome life.  I have come to believe this notion through my life experiences and have found that it has become reinforced as the years have gone by.  Through all of the experiences that have shaped my life, I have found that a supportive family is key to creating the foundation for a wholesome and successful life.

Growing up in Rhode Island, my family molded the way I conducted myself in every day society.  That is not to say that I didn’t have other influences that molded me into the man I am today.  I had friends growing up that were not the best influence on me.  I was the youngest in this little group of assholes and they would manipulate me into doing things that I otherwise would not have.  These were the type of kids that lacked any kind of parental supervision:  They didn’t have curfews and could pretty much do whatever they want.  One day, we were in the woods across from my house and the guys had brought gasoline and other flammable materials with them from their homes (keep in mind, we are ages 7-11).  My Mom hadn’t heard from me in a while and made me come home, saying that I had no business hanging out with those boys because their parents do not hold them accountable for anything.  Sure enough, a few hours later there was an ambulance and a fire truck across the street from my house.  The boys had poured too much gasoline on the fire and it spread and burned one of them pretty severely.  I’m still thankful for my mother calling me home.  Another thing that has influenced my belief in family is my experiences with other families, both good and bad.  I’ve had friends whose parents wouldn’t even give them the time of day, nevermind take them to a ballgame or try to teach them any life lessons.  Seeing how some parents treat their children makes me believe in the power of family, but also allows me to see why some people would disagree with me.

From a young age, my mother and father taught me the proper way to behave, and since I lived with them, I encoded their lessons into my long-term memory.  The things that my parents taught me have stuck with me and made me into the well-rounded person I am today.  From Dad, I learned things like how to change the oil in a car, how to bait a hook, and how to talk to a girl.  From Mom, I learned how to make a nice meal for a special lady, to not pick my nose, and to not procrastinate.  My parents taught me a lot more than I just mentioned, but these teachings have led me to the belief that family can help you get through anything.

I grew up with parents that were always around and always told me they loved me.  When I had my first sleepover when I was young, I learned that not all parents are like my own.  My friend Corey had parents that got divorced when he was very young, so I got to see how difficult it could be not to have parents and I surely understand why someone would not hold the same conviction as me regarding family.  Corey lived with a mother who left him at home alone during the day, rarely made him or his brother any meals, and didn’t help him with his homework even when he asked for it.  I know there are many people whose parents weren’t there for them growing up, who were walked out on by their parents.  I know there are kids that grow up with parents that have drug and alcohol problems, people that would rather buy a sack of cocaine than buy their kid books for school.  People that grow up without parents and family members that care are more likely to be bitter towards the whole notion of family because they themselves never got to experience being a party of a real family.  I consider myself one of the lucky ones.  I could not imagine having parents who walked out on me or neglected me, but I am thankful for the ones that I do have because they have helped me get so much further in this life than I ever could have on my own.

Extrodinary thing about Identity

Coming back to the University this semester I found myself in need of a job. I had worked for Walt Disney World on an internship the last six months, therefore thinking I could have any job that I pleased. Then began the interviews. I could answer every question, give references, my resume was beyond perfection. The one question I was unable to answer, Who was I?

I was not the girl I was when I went to Disney World. I was raised in Charleston, South Carolina, had a light Southern accent and dressed in all Tory Burch and Lilly Pulitzer clothing and accessories. Going to Disney changed me my friends from home have said, but in my opinion, for the better. I’ve become the person I have always wanted to be and my identity is not what it was before. Friends that have known me for years take one look and without me speaking ask what is it that is so different. I am still the fun loving girl, but I have adapted a sort of serenity about my being. I like the calm, cool collected approach to situations, I talk things out, and the materialistic girl I was before is gone. My favorite thing though about who I am now? That I am not quick to judge. My friends are hipsters, sorority girls, and anyone else. I can connect with so many people that I never would have given a second glance at before.

Clearly there are some that will disagree with the idea of identity entirely. Identity could be what you are born into. That you are one person and one person only. That you are identified solely on your skin color, your heritage, your nationality, your job, your family. But in consideration who who you are, what the basic definition of identity is, well I see that as being so much more.

So what is the extraordinary thing about identity? That it changes. It changes as we grow up, it changes as we are faced with new situations, and it changes to become who we really are or maybe it just changes on the outside the portray the person that we have been all along. Never settle for an identity when you feel you could be so much more. One is not simply a few simple words, identity goes so far beyond that.

I believe in the beauty of non- mainstream music

I’m a total hipster.
Yes, I said it. I believe that the music that is not mainstream is superior to the “top 40” or radio station music.
I grew up in a home where I was expected to be a certain way; to fit into the girly, domestic, stereotypical southern woman mold that my mother and two older sisters happened to fit in. Somewhere early on, I came to the realization that I would never be what my parents wanted me to be, so I began to make choices regarding interests, clothing, and musical taste that were contrary to everything my family was. I had to break out of this mold and cultivate my own persona. A guy I dated in high school introduced me to “indie” music and I began to solely listen to that. I was launched into hipster mode, constantly searching for the “underground” music..music that wasn’t consumed by my family and others in the mainstream. I had a certain pride in listening to music that people had never heard of; I felt I was superior to them… if they simply listened to the ‘top 40’ music, it seemed they were squares..formulating their tastes based on what culture told them to listen to as opposed to going out and seeking their own music. There was such an unoriginality there that I hated, that I pushed away from. I hated the shiny ideals of what mainstream culture told me to do.
Clearly, there is still a large portion of society that listens to solely “Mainstream” music. I think that in this kind of music, there’s a certain comfort that people are drawn to. We base our views of people so heavily on their taste in music, and I think that for those who listen to “mainstream” music, it’s no different. Since the “top 40” music is so widely accepted in our culture, I think that listening to it is an easy way to appear “with it” or “cool.”
I also think that the people and cultures that surround us very heavily influence our taste in music. I spend a lot of my time with hipsters, so in result, I listen to a lot of “hipster” tunes. I think it’s the same for anything else. For instance, if I was someone who grew up in a very rural area, surrounded by people who listen mostly country music, I would probably mostly listen to that kind of music. Or, if I grew up in a very urban area where I was surrounded by a lot of rap music, I would probably love rap music. We all search for acceptance by one group or another, and music is just one way in which we try to find it.

Never Break A Promise

Trust and reliability are traits that are very important to me. Throughout my life I have encountered many people who habitually lied about things they were going to do for me or with me, others that lied about rumors and others that lied about whatever was most convenient. Often times they made promises and then broke them. I began to lose trust for people, even my closest friends. I realized how much it hurt to be lied to, to be disappointed, and to have promises broken. However there was always one person in my life who lived by the golden rule of never breaking a promise – my mother. When my mother made a promise, it was good as gold. It helped strengthen our relationship because it helped me develop a better sense of dependability towards her. I looked up to that about her. My father was never a big part of my life and one day when I was in 7th grade he made me a promise to take me hunting with him. Ii was excited to finally have the chance to form a bond with my father. He broke that promise. I felt unloved and heartbroken. That was the last straw for me and I lost trust for my father altogether after that. I then came to the conclusion that I would adopt my mother’s “never break a promise” code into my life. Before then, I felt like a promise was something relatively nominal. A promise was something simply crossing your fingers or toes could exempt you from. From that moment on, there were no loopholes to promises in my opinion. If I promise it, it’s money.

That statement may seem trivial to some, but many others don’t hold this value. Many people use the word “promise” like they use the word “love” – because they sound good. In today’s society, lies and deception are implanted in everything from news coverage to politics – and we’ve all seen the show where one person is utterly screwed because they gave someone confidential information that gets exposed because the person who “promised not to tell” had their fingers crossed. Even if other people’s disregard for promises don’t stem from the media, much like taking the word “love” seriously I believe a true appreciation for the word “promise” only comes from being hurt by the misuse of these words. Simply put, others may not believe that a promise is an unbreakable vow the way I do because they haven’t been deeply hurt by someone who broke a promise to them. Therefore others may look at the word with nonchalance while I look at it with the utmost seriousness.

I think the biggest problem with others keeping promises is them not thoroughly thinking it through before using that word. I imagine that the people who disagree with my belief that a promise is an unbreakable vow have been inconveniently trapped by a promise that they made. For example, people who think they are in love may promise to never hurt their partner, or never leave their partner. As time passes, feelings may change and they may feel like the promise they made was ill advised. This may cause them to put their personal feelings before their obligation to keeping their promise. After that one could promise never to tell a particular secret but eventually, time may pass and the secret may end up being too much to hold and the promise may be broken. Once the first promise is broken, no matter the reason, it would probably make it much easier for a person to break another promise. Eventually, the value of the word would be lost to that person.

As for me, I always live by the question – What’s a man without his word?

Matters of Faith

By Brock R

A very important belief that I hold in my own life is a belief in God and acceptance as Christ as my Lord and Savior. This is something that myself and my family has believed in for generations. There are a lot of things that have influenced my belief over the years, my family being a major influence. When I was young I was involved in a number of church programs as well as a youth group when I began to enter my teenage years. Eventually my family left the church for personal reasons, but my parents still had my sister and I read from the bible and learn lessons every Sunday morning. I would also say that an influence is the world in which I live, and as it becomes more and more dangerous and untrustworthy, it makes me rely on God’s mercy more and more. This sort of way of life has, for me personally, made me a patient, understanding, and strong individual and has made me feel almost invincible and ready for anything that crosses my path.
Of course many people don’t lead this sort of lifestyle. As someone who didn’t have all these sorts of influences they may look for life’s answer through something more physical and tangible, such as through science or nature. Their particular influence may come from parents who are more interested in what their own profession entails or what their passion in life happens to be. In my opinion I feel that people who don’t have a spiritual connection may be more so influenced by material things such as technology, careers, school. The aspect of growing up without a church I think wouldn’t create much of a difference in influence as church is more or less there to teach morals and values, which can also just be taught by parents who don’t necessarily believe in a God. My influences would also probably not derive as heavily from my parents and perhaps more from, school, teachers, and what my friends also would tell me as well, and I would listen more for what they want or want I want. God has given me a sense of calm and peace in my life and I feel like without that I would be a radical and chaotic spirit with no real direction in life. This isn’t to say someone else would be like this without God, but I personally would have trouble coping with some of the events that have happened in my life otherwise.