Confessions of a ‘free soul’ and life without religion

But, by all means, come out of the closet, if you’re in one.

I’m an outspoken atheist, have been for years, but I don’t claim to have come out of a closet. I was in a big room. Just me. No religion. An only child. Playfully — one day — I knocked down the walls and set myself free.

My father had sent me to the nuns to be raised and I loved them. Wonderful teachers. They were all in love with my father who brought them flowers and made them smile. They were happy women. About in the fourth grade all my friends took First Communion. They wore white dresses and veils and married god or something — I never quite understood — and I felt left out. So I asked, “Could I become a Catholic?” He answered. “Yes. When you’re old enough to find out what it’s all about.”

When I found out what it was “all about,” I said, “I wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot pole.”

So off I went in a thousand different directions. Strangely enough, it was an Irish Priest, Father O’Connell who I met — befriended, shared a beer with on the porch of the Manila Yacht Club — who sent me on my way to freedom. He dubbed me a “free soul” — a phrase I liked — and knew nothing about, but the more I learned the more I loved the idea.

When the walls came down I found myself surrounded by other bipeds. Related to the apes. Chimps. Monkeys without tails. Darwin got in the act.

I found human beings. So beautiful. Skin white and black and brown and yellow and pink and every color in-between. Eyes blue and green and gray and brown, snapping and flashing with intelligence. Hair a vast assortment of shades. Red. Yellow. Black. Brown. They painted. They wrote. Composed music. Danced and sang. Young and old and in-between. Male and female and other preferences. Once I knew a homosexual stallion. (They’re unipeds.) He liked boys not girls. Never bothered me.

Humans think, therefore, we are. Carry no guns. Carry no flag. We’re citizens of the world. “Breathes there no human with heart so dead who never to herself has said, This is my home, my planet earth.”

So, if you chose to be a Klansman — hide your face and wear a white robe — burn a cross. Come out. We’ll stand on the sidelines and watch you pass.

If you’re a witch who needs to be exorcised, talk to Sarah Palin. She’ll arrange one. We’ll stand on the sidelines and watch.

If you’re a Nazi, wear a brown shirt — easy to find — and goose step. Tattoo a swastika on your forehead for all we care. We’ll stand on the sidelines and watch.

Strap on a bomb and blow yourself and others to smithereens. Why not start with each other? We’ll stand on the sidelines and watch.

I’m proud to be related to the chimp. Wonder if she’s happy to be related to me?

•••

Bettejo Dux is an author and resident of Kalaheo.

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