Since my divorce my values have changed. I realized that those things that I valued, were pushed upon me by others. My ex-husband, my family, my church, and even the immediate community I lived in, were all pushing their values on me. I was lost in what I believed to be my own values, but once my husband left and I was alone, I realized that most of those ideas I valued were not really important to me.
Things like taking care of the Earth, equality for all, freedom to be oneself and many other “liberal” ideas were actually those things I valued. I often joke that I am a hippie, but I take showers. Truth be known, the hippies have many of the same values I do. I was once asked if I were water, what would I be. I think I would be an estuary. Both fresh and salt water melded together to create a habitat so unique that the diversity of life dependent on it is so great. I feel as though I understand both sides in many cases. I understand being single and relationships, religious and not, liberal and conservative, urban and rural and even uneducated and educated. I understand these, because I have walked both paths at one point in my life or another.
As I have aged and become who I am today, I struggled with letting go of old ideas to embrace new ones. It is vital that each one of us evaluate our beliefs often. I used to believe that homosexuality was a choice and a perversion. I believed that before I ever knew anyone that was gay. It was a value thrust on me by my peers. I never questioned it. Why should I, it was fact, right? Today the majority of my friends are either gay, bi-sexual or supportive of gay rights. I have done some serious soul-searching and I can tell you the only way to truly break free and discover who you are and what you really value is to question why you believe the things you do.
When Bush, Jr. attacked Iraq after 911, I was very confused. I asked a good friend why we were attacking Iraq, it had nothing to do with 911, and so many months afterwards seemed sketchy to me. My friend looked at me in horror, she said “We do not question this leader, he was sent to us from God!” This was my first realization that many of my values and beliefs were not actually how I felt. I struggled to understand the concept of not questioning authority. Not questioning leadership is how the holocaust happened. It is how so many atrocities are brought down upon people by their own parents or governments. Somehow by not questioning authority we actually condone actions in which we consciously would never on our own commit.
Evaluation of one’s beliefs is difficult. Questioning whether there is a God, was the hardest one for me. Ultimately I realized that if there is a God, the one that the Bible immortalizes and religious leaders communicate with, is not a God I care to be involved with. To have so much hatred towards other humans and to judge others for perceived sins is just not some deity I care to uplift. Gandhi once said “I like your Jesus, but I find your Christians to not be much like your Christ.” Truth be told not one person on this Earth, living now knows who or what God is. God could be a tree, a star, an illegal alien, no matter the form taken, I doubt God would be pleased with how we treat others or the Earth.
My first conflict ever with my beliefs, came when my father would burn trash on our property. Knowing that there were burn bans, and that things like aerosol cans and tires were contaminating the air bothered me. My dad burnt anything and everything. To this day he calls me and says; “Guess what I am doing?” To which I reply, “Burning tires out back.” Although I know he is joking with me, the fact that he finds humor in joking about such foul actions bothers me. My mother married a racist redneck that hates everyone. Why anyone would want to spend so much time hating things is beyond me. I find no use in having conversations with most of my family. I find them to be ignorant, not stupid, I mean closed-minded in this case. I also find that my values are not even in the same book as those things they value.
My life as I know it now, is nothing like it was growing up or being married. The path it took to get me to my life now, was long and painful. I have let go of material trappings, no credit, no real debt, no real objects to tie me down. I live minimalistically to ensure that not only the things I value most are upheld in my life, but that my life is my own. I do not want things or ideas to own my life. I want the freedom to know that I can move at a moments notice. I want the freedom to choose what I want out of life. Right now I want life to be simple yet full with friends and purpose.