As I sat in what seemed like the millionth Religion class of my nearly 14 year Parochial school career, listening to yet another Religion “teacher” drone on about the rules and regulations of the Catholic Church and their supposed roots in the practices of Jesus, I felt a balloon of anger and frustration swell up inside of me. The subject at hand today was women in the priesthood, and more specifically, their being banned from it. My teacher, a young man who had recently decided that the seminary wasn’t for him, stood in front of the class and told us that because Jesus’ twelve disciples were all men and the Church was founded upon men, that, according to these traditions, women are not permitted to be priests. So many objections ran through my mind the minute he finished this poor explanation. First of all I thought to myself “Wow, this guy has guts to stand in front of a class comprised of entirely girls (I graduated from an all girl’s high school) and tell us what we cannot do with our lives”. I was not alone in my thinking. The majority of the class began to pepper our teacher with objections and questions. While I respect this man for being so devout in his beliefs and the doctrine he follows, it was this seemingly trivial event led by him that has led me to what I believe. I believe that the world is governed by a sort of Law of Reciprocity that can be divided into three basic tenants which I try to follow. Firstly, I believe that no one can tell me what I am obligated to believe in or how I have to live my beliefs, as I learned that day in religion class. Choosing to believe in something is a very personal matter. No one can teach us what to believe in; this is something every individual arrives at through experience. I think that there are people who are gifted in guiding people to their own beliefs, but who don’t teach them what to believe. No religion teacher or priest or rabbi or reverend knows what is truly in our hearts and in our minds. They were most likely not present at the most defining and significant moments in our lives, the big events and minute things that make us who we are. So how are these people qualified to tell us what we ought to believe in? Just as no one can tell me what to believe in, I have no right to tell anyone else what they ought to believe in. Secondly, at the risk of sounding idealistic, I believe that I should treat people the same way I want them to treat me, which is with tolerance and respect. Thirdly, I believe that I will only get out of my life and experiences exactly how much effort and passion I put into them. Although I am young and have so much to learn still, I think that these beliefs are so basic and fundamental, that living by them and believing in them is the smart thing to do.
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