It used to be called “Indian Territory” – a euphemism for an immense reservation that was in fact a concentration camp, in the center of the United States, for the Native Americans who had been forced to trudge the “Trail of Tears” across America from their lands in the East. It later became known as the “Sooner State” (but that is another story), that we now call Oklahoma. I lived there for seven years. All my children were born there. And it was there that I first heard the famous “Indian” adage : “To understand someone, you must first walk a mile in his mocassins”. It was hardly a new thought. “Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes”. Or, changing the metaphor, “Try to see it from his point of view”. Or, “Just imagine if you were black, handicapped, gay, born into a Muslim (or Jewish or Protestant) family …”. The trouble is that I am, and many of you are, white, without handicaps, straight and born into a Catholic (or Buddhist or atheist) family. My own understanding of what it must mean to have black skin or to suffer from a handicap comes mainly from movies (!), and I’ll never know what it is like to have been born gay.
We cannot really put ourselves in someone else’s place or even footwear. But as an atheist I CAN put myself in a believer’s mocassins – because I was one ! That’s why I hope this Blog, intended for Believers on the Brink, speaks to and reinforces the doubts of people who are still burdened with, and blinded by, the religious faith I abandoned. It took me a long time and much soul-searching to recognize and accept my credulity, and to liberate myself from the blindness which is faith. That’s why I will keep posting reflections with which, I hope, believers can identify. I used to wear the same mocassins they still do.