Honorable mention — BIPOC essay contest: Grecia Hingst
Today is paradise
By Grecia Hingst
I am too scared to say it to your face, but I want you to know that I am an atheist. Up until recently, I was afraid to admit that to myself as well. Indeed, it is not easy to embrace the belief that an omniscient and omnipotent being that loves and cares about and provides for each and every living organism does not exist. Such an idea seems daunting at first, maybe even absurd, especially to someone as religious as yourself. But I am not asking you to share my stance on God; I only need you to understand that the peace religion brings you, atheism brings me.
You know that growing up, I was constantly questioning the bible and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Do you remember how I was rarely ever satisfied with your explanations? Similarly, a few years ago, I started to question the existence of an omnipotent god, and later on, that of a higher power altogether. I am an atheist now. Religion and agnosticism are boxes that I was never meant to fit into.
Atheism has turned me into someone who is more conscious of her decisions and responsible for her actions. After rejecting religion and subsequently becoming an atheist, I no longer feel the need to rely on something external to do good deeds, nor do I push myself to be a decent human being solely for personal gain. As I see it, whether heaven and hell are real or not is insignificant because what drives me to do the right thing are my morals and values, many of which I learned from you.
I suppose the difference between the two of us is that I do not care to receive a reward for ethical behavior, which is not a bad thing to desire. To me, the idea simply is unnecessary. As such, rather than insisting and prioritizing the notion that sins can be forgiven, I prefer to concentrate on not committing any sins to prevent any pain for others and myself. Tell me, why should the future be regarded as more important than the present? What if I want paradise to be right here, right now?
Today is paradise, I believe, regardless of when you are reading this letter, which is why being an atheist has also made me realize that life can be an invaluable treasure. What lies beyond is not something that concerns me.
Grecia, 22, is from Honduras and attends Loyola University New Orleans and is pursuing a major in criminology and justice and a minor in psychology. Grecia would like to be a criminal investigator.