Dearest Readers,

A couple of years ago I posted a video on YouTube of a speech I did at a Toastmasters Conference. The speech won first prize. Recently I received notice in the ol’ inbox that a new comment had been posted on the video’s page. I’d like to share this comment with you now.

Here it is:

“You do realise it’s EXACTLY the very people claiming to have relationships with supernatural beings who are materialists and killing people over it !?? Depravity in the name of spirituality, that’s all it is, that turkey day is not celebrated by a majority free thinkers, that convicted criminals in jails are disproportionately followers of “higher powers”. Stop lying will you. Just say openly you’re a blind god follower, blind to the harms religion and “higher callings” cause humanity!”

Naturally, I was shocked. I’m not used to getting comments like this. Immediately I began to think about how I might reply, defend my position, stand up for myself. This turned into a mild obsession and so I decided to let it go until I had more clarity. It’s now been a week since I got the email and still I’ve not responded.

What strikes me most about this person’s message (who, by the way, calls herself tallard666) is that it is so angry. Though I didn’t respond to the comment on the YouTube page I did share a post on Facebook that day saying, “Some people are very angry. I understand. I know what it means to be angry.”

And I do. I’m dealing with the release of some old anger issues right now, as a matter of fact. And I, too, get rageful at the idea of people killing in the name of God. Whenever I hear someone like George W. Bush mention the war in Iraq and God in the same sentence I feel steam start to blow out of my ears. Or if I read something about terrorists blowing people up for God’s glory I experience great despair.

In this sense I suppose I agree with tallard666. People who do violence and simultaneously claim to do be doing God’s will scare me. The God (or Universe or Higher Power or Creator or Spirit of Unity Back of All Things) I believe in is one of Love, of Peace and of Justice. And by Justice I mean Equality, not vengeance.

I’m not sure where tallard666 has gotten her statistic about convicted criminals. I’ve done volunteer work in prisons and jails on and off for the last almost 12 years. My experience is that convicted criminals are most often deeply wounded people who have been terribly abused by poverty, addiction and mental illness. Some, but not all, have found healing through some kind of a Higher Power and have changed their lives for the better as a result.

Let us all be allowed to believe what we would like to believe. Let us not hate other people for believing something that we do not. Let us learn to express our anger in useful and just ways. Let us accept one another without judgment. This is Higher Power at work: Love and Tolerance.

As for being “blind to the harms religion and “higher callings” cause humanity,” I can only say that the opposite is true. Religious abuse makes me feel sick. But Religion is not God. It is a way to worship God and so religion is neither good nor bad. It is a path. Some religious people are wounded and so they wound others. Other religious people have helped to make the world a better place. Mother Teresa. Martin Luther King Jr. Saint Francis of Assisi.

Am I a “blind god follower”? Au contraire. I once was blind. But now I see.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Today I will continue to do the work of Love. I will respond with compassion to those who have little or feel none.