Faith and Moral Compass
My Mexican grandparents, they are so Catholic. It makes sense, especially if you’re Mexican. If you’re Mexican and you’re not Catholic it’s like there is something wrong with you! It’s very cultural and generational. I mean, on both sides, my grandparents are always at church. On my mom’s side, my grandma goes to adoration everyday, and my grandpa reads the lector every Sunday, it’s just what they do.
Not surprisingly, I grew up going to private Catholic school. Now, I would consider myself a recovering Catholic; I do not practice anymore. A lot of that schooling influenced my moral compass, so that has had an impact on why I do the things I do.
I really liked the constant push I got from my educators to question and ask, ‘why?’ but at the same time, they didn’t want you to ask too much because you should just listen to what they tell you. I didn’t like that because I think asking why is an important part of pursuing your faith. Plus, I had an inner conflict with science and reason in relationship to faith. It seems like the point of religion is to have self-reflection that betters you as a person, but some people take that too literally. I didn’t care too much for Catholics trying to make you feel like you’re always guilty. It still impacted me though; I clearly have a conscience now! I think that growing up like that is part of what has guided me here.I chose a career that is based far more on my moral compass than my pocket book.
I was sort of turned off the whole thing when I was younger and tried to get more involved in the church but I was turned away from certain jobs because I was a woman, and so they would simply say ‘no’. I hated that, but I guess that is starting to change in the Catholic Church, although I will say I think the Catholics are the slowest to adapt to that sort of change. Then at some point I just stopped going; I didn’t think it was fair to the people that do believe in this, because I didn’t buy into it.
I wonder if I had been able to choose my own religion to participate in, you know, in comparison to being brought up Catholic as I was, things might have been different. I think I identify more with the Sikhs and Buddhists because there is no God or deity likeI grew up with. It’s more of a focus on yourself and everyone is equal as opposed to, ‘there’s someone who’s waiting to punish you,’ I don’t know, I find that sort of weird. The reflection in Buddhism and Sikhism is more appealing to me, but I really haven’t found a place in any faith tradition. I’m not quite sure I want to either.
In high school I had a teacher, his name was James Sanders, one of my few male teachers, and he taught in philosophy of religion and peace and justice. That was the first connection I had with religion and social justice. It’s amazing how the two are so intertwined, if you look at any faith you will notice that much of it is very social justice oriented. It’s funny to me that, thinking politically, a lot of people tend to rely on religion but then they don’t seem to make the social justice connection. How do you not see it? We have this one poster at CCI that reads, ‘When I feed the homeless people call me a saint. When I ask why people are homeless they call me a communist.’ I guess people are very comfortable with letting the church take care of everybody, but I like that quote because I think it’s very evident of what religion is.