Politics, tragedy, religion, guns, nationality and so many more subjects are polarizing, especially in America. I’ve seen families, friends, and communities torn apart because of deeply held beliefs. Rarely, but thankfully, I have found a few people in my life who can hold deeply held beliefs and still have conversations about the aforementioned subjects and still remain civil and friendly afterward.
I know I’ve been unfollowed, unfriended, branded, and abandoned because of my deeply held beliefs, and I know I’ve unfollowed, unfriended, branded and abandoned others for the same reasons.
Lately, I’ve even been branded as dangerous. Dangerous? For having different beliefs? For challenging long-held, deeply-entrenched beliefs and opinions? Yes.
If I am being labeled dangerous for challenging the status quo of beliefs and thoughts and a lifetime of opinion, know that I relish it. I’d rather be known as someone who examines, inspects, interrogates, and thinks her way through life rather than accepting everything I’m told, skimming over issues to promote an opinion that’s only mine because I carry it forward for someone else. I’ve lived a lifetime of promoting other agendas because of a sense of duty to what I’ve been told and indoctrinated to believe. I’m finished with that part of my life.
The extraordinary state of thinking for myself was a hard-fought battle. I’d go so far as calling the battle for my own beliefs and opinions a war. Not only did I have to figure out what I truly believed, I had to fight for my right to express that belief and opinion freely. That’s a war I’m still fighting, because I’m dangerous, you see.
Throughout history, the people in the masses who think for themselves have been labeled as dangerous, especially women. The awakening of owning a thought or idea that is truly mine is intoxicating, I’ll admit. The further I pursue my own thoughts and beliefs, the further away from blind obedience to an idea I get, the freer I feel.
I don’t care, really, what a person thinks or believes if I know that they truly have thought, examined, challenged and formed their own thoughts and opinions. All I really care to challenge in a person is that they think for themselves and not follow the masses just because it’s easier and more comfortable to follow the crowd.
A staggering number of people will follow a man in a pulpit, a person on a political soapbox, a person with a certain philosophy – anyone with a message or agenda – without challenging, investigating, examining what the person in charge is saying. If, after study and query, a person agrees with a different ideology than mine, I can respect that.
I have huge issues with people just accepting what another person says without thinking it all through for themselves. That, to me, is a truly dangerous way to live. It’s why certain pastors and politicians have power – they tap into those minds who will follow without question.
People want to belong to something greater than themselves so much, they turn off their mind’s alarm systems: that doesn’t sound/feel right. I don’t think I agree with that, but if I challenge it, I won’t belong anymore. I believe that’s dangerous.
I wanted to belong to something so badly it turned me into a mindless sheep, and I became so judgmental and hurtful as I followed other people’s agenda. I stopped thinking for myself at the cost of losing myself. I put what I wanted/thought/believed over relationships and I believed it was what I should do and because I wanted to belong.
When I started sorting through what I believed and wanted for my life, I know I lost friends. I lost certain membership in communities that don’t like dangerous thinkers in their midst. I’ve actually been old-school shunned for challenging the status quo and asking questions.
Ironically, thinking for myself has opened up my mind enough to allow others to think for themselves. I gladly accept differences in opinions and sometimes challenge people with what they believe to be a differing opinion so I can see their resolve and commitment to their belief. Some would call that devil’s advocate, but I call it investigation.
Personally, I don’t care what a person believes, as long as it is truly a belief that is theirs, forged in thought and investigation and fire. I care more that people think than what they think. I wish that notion went both ways, but it often doesn’t. It’s easier to label me a danger than a free-thinker.
I value the discussions I have with people. I enjoy hearing what other people think, and challenging them to own those beliefs and thoughts. If that labels me as dangerous, know that I don’t mind.