This I Believe

Samuel - wellesley, Massachusetts
Entered on September 15, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: Christianity

Religion: A Burden or a Discovery?

Around the time I was six or so, I started to notice that every Sunday I was left by myself, as all my friends went off to church and then something called “Sunday School.” I was puzzled. The weekends were for playing, but school isn’t fun? I thought to myself.

My parents danced around this subject for as long as possible, avoiding the topic like a plague. “It’s not fun Sam, it’s just more school that you don’t need,” my father told me. “You’re not even Catholic. You tell me in five years that you still want to go, and you can go.” No matter how much I resorted to pleading with them, they just kept forcing out the issue. I was resentful about this for a while, but as time went by, I heard more and more complaints from my friends. They were stuck in a musty old church for the better part of every weekend, and I got to watch cartoons.

Now I realize why I was never brought up in any religious atmosphere: religion is a choice, and I was too young to make it. My mother grew up in the middle of Bible-belt, rural Minnesota, and my father in an essentially all Jewish community in suburban Scarsdale, New York. When they married, they agreed that it was best to let me and my brother grow up without any religious influence. After all, if it’s supposed to be a personal belief, then why not discover it on your own?

I believe this is the only way for people to truly find the values that are right for them. It is far too common that people are born into a religion, and keep that faith for their entire life just because they were never introduced to anything different. Kids are impressionable. They have an idea instilled in them early enough and hard enough, and this idea eventually hardens itself into a belief. Thus because I was never identified as anything as a child, I am now able to choose my own identity. I do not believe what I am told. I believe what I have discovered.

I believe that one day my children deserve the right to choose their own future. This is by no means to say that it is not within one’s right to raise their kids in the way that one sees fit; but just to say that everyone deserves the chance to develop their own mind. Too many of my friends I heard complaining about going to church on Good Friday, telling me how fortunate I am that I don’t have to study the Torah for my Bar Mitzvah. Religion is not a burden, passed on through generations by birth. It is a set of values, and values should be made on a personal level. Everyone deserves the right to discover their own.