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Articles tagged with: lgbt

Apr12

I did it on my own

Tuesday, 12 April 2016 Written by // Felix Garmendia Categories // Gay Men, Felix Garmendia, Spirituality, Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific

New Yorker Felix Garmendia has rejected organized religion in favour of his own code of ethics and says this has given him “the liberty to experience things I would have never experienced if I remained chained to their strict ethical codes"

I did it on my own

I don’t have any use for any influence in my life that will dictate what’s “right” or “wrong”; I have been in that place many times. 

Organized religion has been one example where that simplistic dichotomy of life has been presented to me on a silver platter. I refuse to partake in that ritual of archaic or synthetic codes of ethics that point out and expect me to blindly follow flawed judgments of what they perceive as “good” or “bad” in life. 

I was always a free thinker, a person that questioned everything over and over again until I got an answer. Why? Because many people have mastered the art of repeating what they are told like a parrot, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than looking at the eyes of those who are encountered with a question they don’t have an answer for. I am a true believer in the power of love which is responsible for the order in society. I have a very true concern for what I consider social injustices, regardless of what organized religion thinks about it. 

If anybody thinks that organized religion’s hands are not stained with blood, they know nothing about religion itself or its bloody history. For example, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition (which by the way was officially shut down until 1813, over 300 years since it started in 1478), Salem Witch Trials, Protestants and Catholics killing each other during the Reformation, and the seemingly endless, murderous, religious conflicts in the Middle East, just to mention a few. 

I realized long ago that I was going to guide my life by my standards and by my own life experiences. I was going to have an open mind, ready to absorb all the knowledge I could and make a reality my main purpose in life, that of being a better man every day. I have developed on my own a very high code of ethics where basically we are all equal and connected by our human nature. We all smile in the same language, we all cry in the same language, and we all love with the intensity that every individual is capable of investing in the miracle of love. 

In other words, and at the risk of sounding egocentric, I discarded everything that offended me as a human being and embraced everything that was centered in love, all without organized religion. 

I stopped following organized religion early in my life after trying many religions. I never fit in, never found a sense of home, never understood the fanatical behavior of many. I reject the hypocrisy of others and the use of religion by many as a weapon to discriminate. I will never be part of a flock that flies backwards. 

My intention in this world is to leave an imprint of kindness and empathy, to be remembered as a positive source of energy that builds instead of demolishes, that gives instead of taking, that wears a smile even when I am broken inside. I want to be my own light, I want to own my shadows and use them to separate my past from my brilliant future. I want to feel free and be me. That’s the only way I will find happiness in this world, by exercising my right to be genuine to myself in order to be able to give others a clear and accurate sense of who I really am, to be respected for my goodness, to be remembered for my understanding of human nature and my ability to offer love instead of fear. I’d like to be recognized for trying to improve the quality of your life as opposed to promoting any organized religion. 

I don’t believe fear gets us anywhere. Fear is crippling and destructive, and it creates barriers that separate us. We tend to fear what we don’t understand. The spiritual practices of people who are different from us are a prime example. We can’t love what we fear. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m not confusing the word fear with respect because it’s very clear to me that respect opens doors to new paths while fear closes windows and blocks the light. In organized religion, the fear of “God” seems to be considered an act of humility and something essential in your relationship with your god. 

I fear very few things in this life. I fear a long agony of death, the entrapment of myself in a body that is losing mobility, the fear of losing my battle with HIV, and the fear of finding myself alone fighting this battle, just to mention a few. I also have realized that by loving myself, I protected my present from being wasted in fear. I embrace every day with the passion of a fighter who is willing to defend his happiness against all odds. 

The concept of doing all of this outside of the frame of organized religion has given me the liberty to experience things I would have never experienced if I remained chained to their strict list of rules and ethical codes. 

“Why” I got here might still be a mystery to many but not for me. I came here to follow my heart, to build loving relationships, to extend my hand to those in pain and despair. I want to learn new things and to center my life based on my own personal experiences, and to have those experiences dictate the way I treat others. In this journey, I’m the king AND the peasant, I’m the cloud AND the rain, and I’m the mirror with my real reflection. This entire journey is centered in respect for others, respect for differences, respect for every living thing and respect for myself. 

My “code of ethics” has taken me to where I am today, to a peaceful place with that kind of solace that only peace of mind can give a human being. Yes, I don’t need any influence bigger than me to tell me what’s “wrong” or “right”. I don’t think I need religion to dictate my behavior. I have made love, happiness, tranquility and peace happen; that is the backbone of the real unchained me that has learned to live and love even when the night seems to be too long. 

Yes, I did it on my own. 

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