In the last few days, from more than a couple of friends, I’ve seen statements of frustration and helplessness.
I get it. And then I’ve seen something I really don’t get — others who know these friends, whose suggestions (unsolicited, of course) have been along the lines of “Well, you should just get yourself to this specific religious group, because organized religion will solve not only all of YOUR problem, but it will fix all of the problems in the WHOLE WORLD, too!” And these “suggestions” have been given to friends who are not subtle or closeted about their specific rejection of the very real harm that religion has wrought on the world, people who have made it quite clear that as solutions go, that’s NOT one.
And yet somehow there’s surprise when “go to church!” is not received particularly well… hmm.
Look, if I said that I was dealing with an upset stomach, and one of you said “Go to that guy on the corner of 5th and Main, he sells this great brand of Snake Oil!” I would pretty much expect a chorus of replies pointing out how stupid that was, how pointless and unhelpful that suggestion was. I would likely write a scathing rant in reply to the offending commenter, and might make a point of how I’ve laughed off plenty of others in the past for similar ridiculous suggestions, complete with links to evidence demonstrating that fact.
And if I — or any of my friends — talk about how fed up we are with current events and feeling compassion fatigue, if we talk about how we’re slowly slipping away because we’ve been trying so hard to be self-reliant and it isn’t working, and one of you says “go to church! It’ll make everything fantastic for you!” you’re going to get at least one reply from me pointing out how stupid that was, how pointless and unhelpful that suggestion was. And that goes double when the folks you’re telling to seek out religion have made a very specific point of talking about the harm it’s done, about all the reasons why that’s a dangerous and unsafe place to be.
Or, put another way… next time someone who has shared their history of self-harm with you says they’re struggling, think about how “helpful” it would be to tell them that they could fix things by going shopping for a brand-new set of knives… and then shut your fucking mouth.