When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.
This quote makes an enormous amount of sense to me. I grew up Catholic(ish) with parents who – at best – didn’t push it and a grandfather who absolutely loved to tell me that religion is for “stupid people”. At one point in my life I was a Presbyterian, mostly because I was searching for a community and it provided me a wonderful one. It didn’t last, and through some hard times I left it by the wayside and now live the life of an agnostic who doesn’t spend too much time worrying about it.
I have plenty of friends and some family who actively participate in a church, and I see that it enriches their lives, and I’m happy for them. I cannot objectively put myself in the role of “judge”, and call it religion, ever. I hate the idea that people use religion to manipulate, to justify their own hate and fear, and to alienate people. I hate the destruction that can be attributed to almost every religion you can think of. The closest I can get is to say that I can sometimes be spiritual, but honestly I just like how ambiguous and non-committal that is.
Instead, like Mr. Lincoln, I believe that you should do good things because you just should. I will remind you of the great philosopher George Costanza who often said “WE LIVE IN A COMMUNITY HERE PEOPLE”, and our actions have consequences. All of them.
I have done some not very good things in my life, even recently, and I can trace those things to consequences that I’m feeling today. I can only learn from them and try to do better every day. I am working on having compassion for myself, because it does not help anything to beat myself up, and remember that when I am feeling sad and sorry the best way to feel better is to help someone else.