It’s not us, it’s them

I was having a conversation with a tweep this morning about a religious friend we have in common. Our friend is a rabbi. We both made sure to mention what a wonderful person she is, and then my tweep commented that she’s glad the rabbi accepts her, godlessness and all.

Then it dawned on me: Why is it the job of the religious to accept/not accept the non-religious? Who gave them such authority? (Nobody – they just claimed it for themselves without asking us.) My tweep and I were in agreement: it’s not us, it’s them. They’re the ones who believe weird things without evidence, not us. We’re normal.

Sometimes people who believe in weird things like gods happen to be exquisite human beings, too. Who woulda thunk it?


5 thoughts on “It’s not us, it’s them

  1. Or, it could be that friends can be glad to be friends with people with whom they otherwise might suffer serious disagreement, exactly because they’re friends and are willing to suffer whatever aggravation the disagreement causes. I’m glad my conservative friends and I can remain friends rather than letting petty ideological conflicts damage an otherwise satisfying relationship. And being glad about that doesn’t mean I’ve “submitted” to their beliefs because I’m more delicate in arguing with a friend than with an acquaintance — neither of us checks our views at the door of interaction. Perhaps the presumptively delusional rabbi here feels the same way about her atheist or wiccan or even x-tian friends. But maybe not anymore, after being reduced to the “them” of “us and them.”

    1. My reflection wasn’t about reduction, it was geared toward altering the idea that “we” must seek approval from “them”. Or “them” from “us.” But it seems it’s usually non-theists who are grateful that their theistic companions accept them despite their atheistic ways. Rarely do we hear that in reverse. All I’m trying to do is ask why that’s a normal – and accepted – dynamic. My rabbi friend, as I’ve made clear, is an exquisite person – unlike some other nice rabbis I’ve met who wouldn’t suffer my godless ways. So I guess we’re back to square one. Barbara, if you’re reading, we love you!

  2. No, not “about” reduction; but “us” and “them” is reductive, on purpose. You certainly noted rabbi’s goodness, then turned her into a possibly willing part of a limiting dichotomy — what struck me, though, that actually prompted the response, was wondering, did rabbi actually SAY she was being accepting despite atheism, or was that your friend’s assumption/perception? If, as you say, “it’s usually non-theists” who are grateful for acceptance, is that presumption coloring your friend’s assumptions about what rabbi is deciding to do? Maybe rabbi is so filled with the love of g-d she loves everybody sincerely without reference to belief. Probably not, but you see what I mean. . .you started talking about a circumstance that you take for granted and assumed I (or anyone else reading) would too; I’m just wondering if that circumstance is as widespread as you think it is, outside your own circle of the faith-less/ful. If “square one” is supposed to mean we’re fighting, I disagree, but then I would. I just got the impression you had truncated a nuanced situation into a generalization, and traffic looked light.

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