Got a couple of interesting emails over the weekend. The first one chastised me for not thanking God when I was "cured" of my mysterious illness back in 2008. Not sure what prompted that now, two years after the fact, but it basically said: people had been praying for me; I should have thanked God; He's waiting for my acknowledgment; it's not too late. Hello, unnecessary and inappropriate guilt trip. I should've just shrugged it off and deleted the email, but a little fury starting building inside me. (Note: There were many other things written in this email including "proof" of the existence of God, insistence that I do some research, comments about my parents "raising me right," insinuations that I take my "smarts" for granted, etc. I'm only covering the illness guilt trip part). There were so many things I wanted to say back. If God cured me, who gave me the illness in the first place? Why would he be pining away, 2 years later, still waiting for me to thank him? What about the doctors who actually gave me the medicine and treatment - are they not the ones I should be thanking? What about my family and friends who did tangible, real actions during that time (visiting me, sending me flowers & cards, tending to my house, etc) - are they not the ones I should be thanking? (I have, by the way). How is this person so sure the imaginary man in the sky had any hand in it originally, and so sure now of his current view on the matter? Just because you believe something and want it to be true, doesn't mean it necessarily is! The problem with the people who send these types of emails is that they have little grasp on reality. They already have their mind made up about a situation, and when you try to bring some logic or common sense into the equation, there's no room for it. It would have been pointless to respond and ask my questions, because no serious thought would've been given to them by this person. (In other words, you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.)
Despite my fury, I didn't respond. I don't respect this person's view on a multitude of issues, but I do acknowledge this person's right to hold them. I respect that there were other people who might've been negatively affected by my response, so I convinced myself the right thing to do was ignore. I figured that would be the end of it. Much to my dismay, I received a second email the next day full of Bible verses supposedly supporting the notion that homosexuality is wrong. There was no explanatory commentary with the verses and nothing directed at me specifically like in the first email (despite it being purposely sent to me for some reason by this person). Attack me personally? Fine. Attack an entire group of humans because of who they love? Not cool. I didn't want to hear any more of this nonsense, and I decided it was best to put an end to it before it escalated. I can respect people's right to hold an opinion, but I don't have to subject myself to listening to it.
I'm not sure what this person's motivation was in sending me these emails. Maybe they weren't aware of my firm stance on human rights. Maybe they thought I was still searching for guidance in my journey through life. Whatever their reason, I decided it was best to remove any speculation. This person has never discussed any of these topics with me before, which made me believe they needed some background. I sent a response email as sort of a "In case you didn't know." The text of it follows:
"Please refrain from sending me any further emails related to religion. I do not wish to discuss this matter with you. It is clear what your position is, based on the things you've sent me. I don't think it is clear to you what my position is, so here it is to avoid any confusion: I've done my "research" and am confident and content with my path in life. I love ALL people, despite whether a certain book tells me to or not. I seek out charitable pursuits, I help my friends and family when they need it, and I work towards spreading a message of common decency and tolerance. I do this free of dogma and with an open mind. I do not wish to place restrictions on my giving or my tolerance, based on a deity's wishes. My parents raised me to be a good person, and I think if you asked my mom, she would say she was proud of me. This ends the conversation. Please respect my request to cease further communication regarding this topic."
I kept it calm and straightforward and made sure I was respectful. Personal emails don't come with an easy "unsubscribe" button, so I did the next best thing. I limited it to only this topic, so this person doesn't need to feel like I requested them to be completely removed from my life. I don't think my request was unreasonable. It's unfortunate that I had to send it, because I'm sure it will put a ding in our future interaction/relationship, but that's not my fault. If you start sending out your UNSOLICITED opinions and assertions, you have to expect that they might not be met with open arms.