When I was very little, I lived in an all mexican neighborhood in Los Angeles. I was the only white kid there, and we were largely disliked because of
that. I still gravitated towards the other children around, willing to be abused in various ways as long as I wasn't alone. So they would organize
games like "Crack the Whip" in which I was always the tail end, and they had fun making me fly off and get hurt. Or various role playing games, like
"Family" in which I was to play the dog, and they'd tie a rope around my neck and pull me around, or punish me for being a "Bad dog".
Their families were all christians, and as the children were used to hearing their parents talk about us, they would use religion to put me down,
telling me that Satan lived in my house and God hated me. I was only five, so I had no defense or argument to give.
A few years later, I had an aunt who was a fervent born again Christian. She would take me alone and lecture me, telling me that I was going to hell,
to pay for the sins of my mother (my parents were then divorced and she had a boyfriend she slept with out of wedlock). She explained to me that it
didn't matter what I did, or how I lived my life - me and any children I ever have will pay for the sins of my mother, because that is how it
She would take me to Sunday school sometimes, explaining to the teacher before leaving me there, that I was already doomed, there was no way to save
me, but by bringing me anyway, she is at least doing her christian duty. She didn't explain to the woman why I was cursed, so the woman would look at
me with a grimace, probably wondering what kind of terrible thing I had done. I would try extra hard to be as good and obedient as I could, but it
made absolutely no difference.
Then she got involved in some group that would meet together and hold some sort of ceremony with swords, swearing their allegiance as soldiers for
God, and they made me repeat some sort of litany pledging myself to Christ. They all started crying and scared the heck out of me, telling me I had to
behave certain ways now to save my soul - I don't remember the details, I was traumatized.
I think that religious beliefs can be used to hurt and oppress people if that is what people want to do. My aunt was eventually diagnosed as
schizophrenic and hospitalized for a while, and now is medicated for life, so she is more normal. The behavior of the christian families in my old
neighborhood (for the children picked up the hostility toward white people from their parents) held hostile attitudes due to other social problems,
for which they used religion as a weapon.
These experiences, though you may not consider it a forced oppression, because I was very young, had a deep effect upon me and impacted the rest of my
life, including now. Psychological testing now still comes up with me being a "repressed extrovert" - I seem, to those around me, to be an introvert.
I actually have a natural drive and desire to be with others and active with others, but that early oppression has made it impossible for me to do so.
I suffer from that more than you can imagine.
With all psychological disorders, it sounds, to those who do not suffer it, like it is not a "real" barrier - one simply must choose to do otherwise.
This is not the case. I have spent years in therapy, various spiritual searches, prayer, meditation, etc.
My whole personality was built upon a few basic premises that I cannot seem to overcome, even when I think I have -
It does not matter what I do, how I behave, what choices I make, or how I think or feel... those play no part in what others will think of me, feel
about me, or what will happen to me.
People will always hate me and want to hurt me, no matter what I do. There is no hope, and if ever a person seems to like me or treat me kindly, it is
an illusion I am creating for myself. It is not possible for anyone to love me or like me, because God does not love me or like me.
So my life has no hope in it when it comes to my place in the world and with others. I can only watch from inside and love the world I observe in a
disconnected way. Getting involved actively means only pain, though I choose to jump in sometimes anyway, because even that is sometimes better than
the isolation. Until it gets to be too much and I retreat again.
Religion is like any tool - it can be used to create or destroy. LIke a hammer can be used to build a shelter, or to crack a skull.
Having a hammer in hand does not make a person a carpenter; neither does a gun make a person a defender of the weak.
edit on 28-3-2016 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)