The main thing I want to know is if I sound offensive overall after you read the essay--obviously im not trying to. But any comments, opinions, or revisions would really be appreciated too!
Raised without Religion
As a young child raised in the absence of religious teachings, I was perpetually intrigued by my peers' absolute ability to justify or condemn any action. Any action contributed to one's judgment of going to either Heaven or Hell upon dying; there was no middle ground, no shade between white and black. As I was constantly presented with situations from which to learn morality, this certainty of my peers appealed to me strongly, though I had my initial doubts. "But, how do you know if you're right?" I constantly asked, which was always refuted with "Because that's what the adults say in church,"-logic that, at five years old, was undeniable. I began attending any kind of church service I could; some days, I would go with my Mormon friend's family, on others, I would go to a Catholic church with my neighbors. Slowly my struggles faded as I began to see that this religious approach was easier, though not necessarily better; it made me more ethically decisive, yet forced me to restrict my inherent desire to understand why.
Through elementary and middle school, this suited me fine. The few occasions that temptation presented itself were quickly resolved by applying any one of my various religious philosophies. Many morals I ascertained from religion overlapped with those taught to me by my parents; do not lie, hurt, or steal-essentially, treat others in a way you would like in return. All these tenets I adhered to; they were simple and logical. However, as I simultaneously entered high school and discovered that my uncle was homosexual, it became apparent that huge discrepancies existed between my parents' morals and my religions'. Both put great emphasis on the idea of treating others how you would like them to treat you, so I did not understand why my religious companions not only rejected, but condemned, our classmates and my Uncle David for their differences-whether as insignificant as how they dress or meaningful as their beliefs. They could not break away from their established traditions enough to see that their way was not the only way.
My faith began to unravel; I refused to acknowledge my uncle's existence as blasphemy. My certainty in my actions grew fainter as my moral standards began to disintegrate. No longer was everything so simple; absolute right and obvious wrong had ceased to exist as they were instead blended together into varying shades in between. As though a veil was lifted from my perceptions, I began to see the my surroundings again with the newfound knowledge that nothing in morality is absolute; every action, every spoken word, and every thought does not have to be rigidly decided as good or evil. Instead, they are all incorporated into a wide, multifaceted intermediate. Here, acceptance is born. With this new philosophy, I discovered the self-satisfaction wrought by my own, independent conclusions-free of external influence. Though I did not condemn my religious peers for their beliefs, I found their contentment under the sovereign rule of a higher authority to be stifling. They were essentially good people, but burdened by their convictions. My newfound ability, to weigh all sides objectively before passing judgment, freed me from the whispers of doubt that used to accompany my verdicts in morality; I was able to understand the reasons and motivation behind a decision and accordingly support or renounce it.
My philosophy has been tried, stretched, even manipulated throughout my perpetual struggle to balance the temptations facing an adolescent male with my constantly evolving sense of right and wrong. From religion, I learned morals; from my parents and own experiences, I learned of their application. At times, I yearn for the simplicity of being told what or what not to do; an easier, yet unfulfilling practice. My embrace of the gray inherently inhibits such resolute convictions, instead forcing me to form my own, fluid opinions, strongly upheld with my only possible conviction; each decision I make is fully mine, and therefore my responsibility. The prospect may seem daunting, but it lends to me an implacable sense of gratification, for it has helped understand not only my actions, but myself as well. To Rice, I bring the perspective of one who renounced the lulls of complacency in order to adopt a philosophy that embraces a harsher, more fulfilling reality.