Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Honorable mention: People of color essay contest — Bruno Rios De La Fuente

Vol. 37 No. 10 December 2020
Bruno Rios De La Fuente                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

A life without questions is not a live well-lived

By Bruno Rios De La Fuente

With every question, the reply was always the same. “Read your bible.” It was never lost on me that the people saying it wouldn’t actually ever read it. So, I decided to actually try it. What I found was atrocious. Long story short: The bible didn’t provide me with any actual answers, or even coherent arguments. Those around me would only meet my critiques with hostility and dismissal, so answers would not be garnered from them. So, I did what I would spend much of my life doing, searching for them. That search has provided me with many skills which have proven their utility throughout my life. That search has provided me with three major benefits: moral clarity, self-satisfaction and a skill for developing well thought-out arguments.

In my time within the religious community, I discovered a disease of hypocrisy. It was as widespread as the common cold. People would always claim they believe in this or that, but when it truly matters, when they have something to lose, they tend to lean more so toward their own benefit. I found that repulsive. So, I assembled a core set of ideas, based on humanity and empathy. I am happy to say that I have stuck with those ideas and I can feel confident that I am not in the wrong. I put myself in the shoes of the powerless, and from there see how my actions can be interpreted. Although this does lead me to over-think things, and often remain hesitant to act, I know that what I have done and try to do always comes from a place of caring and understanding.

Confidence and high self-value are not things which come naturally to me and it took quite a bit of time for it to truly develop. For me, my morals and ideas are what I hold dearest because they provide me with something nothing else can: happiness. I may stress out and overcomplicate issues, but in the end, what I am left with is always the same: Knowledge that I did my best to thoroughly think a decision out, and that with the same information I would always come to the same conclusion. This has left me with a series of decisions I stand by because I made them. They weren’t rash, emotional or half-baked; they were reasonable and well thought-out. And with them behind me, I am always left with happiness.

As a person of color in the United States, I have had to deal with a lot of setbacks. Once you separate yourself from religion, you also lose a lot of the community that you would normally have to help mediate those setbacks. So, I was on my own, and when it came time for me to try to go to college, it was quite the uphill battle. But what allowed me to not just go to college, but to attend one of the few in my hometown I would be able to afford, was my ability

to make good cohesive arguments. I was able to convince enough groups to help me get there. And that is what the secular community needs to work on — its outreach toward people who lose their sense of community when they separate themselves from religion. But, now that the full ramifications of my departure from the religious community have revealed themselves, I can firmly say, that the only thing the bible gave me was a thorough lesson in what not to do, and, in that regard, it went above and beyond.

Bruno, 21, attends California State University Channel Islands. “My life has always somehow managed to buck its trajectory. Some call its perseverance, others tenacity, I think of it more as stubbornness. I have overcome a lot, but I prefer not to dwell on that. I’m focused on becoming a professor one day, to share my love of history and write in a way that can connect with people.”