Interviewing someone of another religion, not the easiest task, especially when in some form or another religion is deeply rooted in almost all humans. To interview someone from another religion takes patience, understanding, the ability to listen, and above all tolerance. Those are just a few of the keys I noticed myself using during my interview with a man whom I not only respect but also call a friend and co-worker. His name is Nick.
Nick grew up in Waupun, WI. One in a family of four, he attended a Methodist church as a child until the age of ten before he was not made to go any longer. Nick now considers himself nothing (Atheist), at twenty seven years old church means nothing to him; he doesn’t use the term or concept of God except to swear with. When the question “Why don’t you believe in God” was asked Nick simply stated “Never saw him do anything worth believing.”
The largest religious influence in Nick’s life and the one who took him to church is his mother, who still attends church services on holidays. The only tradition is she gives Nick and his brother one present on Christmas. The gift exchange is one sided he tells me as his brother and him do not give a gift back for Christmas although they do give their mother things throughout the year. Nick enjoys the presents he gets from his mother at Christmas but he never had much interest in the Christian aspect. Traditions and church are to Nick are “nothing but old boring people and a waste of time” and he doesn’t care to be part of it
Nick has handled his own problems for as long as he can remember, he has always stood alone. While growing up at the age of fourteen Nick started partying and drinking and by seventeen was expelled from high school for drinking and fighting. When asked if he thought God had any part of his young life he said: “Jordan, none that I’d call God.” Nick does not consider himself a good person just someone who’s trying to make it through life, unbelieving in Heaven or Hell, just work. Nick stated “I gotta work for everything cause nothing is just given, and if there is a God Jordan he doesn’t just give anything away.”
Morals, Principles, and Ethics to Nick are big words, (said so himself), he instead ties his guidance to “just what’s right” although he was unable to tell me how he comes to right conclusions. Nick doesn’t see God’s hand so he doesn’t believe or care if God exists. Nick doesn’t say Christians are wrong and he believes in live and let live along with do/believe in whatever makes you happy. He will accept a “God bless” with a “Thanks, you too” from someone he respects, and for those he doesn’t respect he just ignores or has a much ruder comment. Nicks guidance more has to do with avoiding punishment from the law although he has broken it quite a few times to have a good time; he says Karma’s a ***** so don’t do nothing stupid like me” and for all the years I have known Nick I’ve learned to take most of his advice. He may not believe in God as I do but he has learned what not to do both the hard way and by observing others who did it the hard way.
In talking with Nick and the interview we had together he told me about how no one has ever really listened to him as I was doing and how he has done everything alone all his life; not even his mother has really helped him out in situations as a mother should have supported her child. It was hard hearing this as his mother was his only Christian association and had not given him much attention throughout his life. I believe this is a truth in many families and places and I have learned people close to home not just far away in India or South Africa need help in many aspects of their life and of a listening ear therefore we as a nation should and I in particular hope to do more in being there for my fellow Americans as Gandhi did for so many for his seventy-nine years of life on this earth. I say Americans because it is “better stop short than fill to the brim” – Tao Te Ching, to me – don’t bite off more then you can chew.
Gandhi had an excellent point when he said “I hold it as the duty, of every cultured man and woman, to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we’re to respect others’ religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world’s religions is a sacred duty.” I agree wholly with Gandhi that we should study every work of wisdom; there is always something that can be learned from someone else. If I could add to the quote a brief addition it would only be to say – it is the duty of every cultured man and woman to share their knowledge with those who have little and help bring understanding to the races of the world.
In closing, even though Nick and I do not see eye to eye on our faith and religious beliefs, I believe we get along well and it should be a tolerated understanding acceptance between us. He is a hard worker, a nice person and whatever his religious beliefs or lack there of doesn’t make him a bad person or change the fact he is a human being and has all the rights those of us in religious faiths have. As the Declaration of Independence states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”