Background: My name is Nic, I am 22 and I grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Faith: I grew up in a Roman Catholic family, I went to church, I went to, like, CCD, which is like a form of Sunday school I guess but more, it was like during the week and it was like an after school thing so I did that. As I grew up I just became really, like less and less religious. Now I guess I self-identify my religion, or lack thereof, as just nonreligious. I guess it’s like atheism but I just usually say nonreligious. My dad’s really religious so I just like to say nonreligious, it seems less offensive I think. People have like a pejorative sense of the word atheist so, atheist but I just say nonreligious.
Aspects of your life which have shaped your faith: It’s probably been more like my views on just society as a whole. I never really like, I don’t really attribute it to my parents because as I was growing up my parents, like my mom never really went to church, she was an Easter and Christmas person and my dad was like, always went to church, but never really found his place in Roman Catholicism but since he couldn’t find his place it was hard for me to get into it, my mom wasn’t into it and I just didn’t want to wake up on a Sunday, that was a big part of it also when I was in high school and eventually I just found I didn’t really like the views of the church, the Roman Catholic church, on abortion and same-sex marriage and stuff like that. It was never appealing to me. I never really found a religion that was appealing to me and then when I learned more about science, and the way that the world works, I became probably less and less religious to the point where, you know, it’s probably hard to convince me now and I just consider myself nonreligious I guess completely.
Do you feel included with your peers? When I was younger I don’t really think that I ever really had any views on who I was as a person and how I was viewed by my faith, you know. Now I don’t consider it my faith anymore and probably in most of my adult life I never really considered any religion my faith so I never really felt excluded by any faith that I have held whether that be secular or religious. I’ve felt included the whole time, I’ve never felt excluded out of any sort of secularism that I’ve had, I was probably too young at the time to be excluded by the Catholic faith that my family practiced.
A time you felt included: I feel like there have been a lot of times where people have made me feel included. I can’t think of any one person in particular but I know a lot of the last couple years I have been experimenting recently in an area career-wise that I haven’t ever really been a part of and I never knew anyone that was a part of it so, you know, from really the genesis of what I knew I wanted to do as a career goal, work in broadcast journalism. I have met people who were inclusive to me first starting out, and first pointing a camera, and also in the later term. Now I’m finishing college, I have to get my first job, you know, setting up internships, all of those people have made me feel inclusive. Again it’s like the same sort of thing, I’m really that sort of beyond the point since it’s a career, it’s beyond the point when it sort of has anything to do with a person’s sexuality or their religion for that matter but I can see why those things would be a problem with some people but I’ve been very included by the sort of field of study that I work in. I appreciate that.
How did it affect you? I think that with anything, the more inclusive the people are, when you’re trying to become a part of that group, the easier it is to be a part of it and the more easy it becomes to become passionate about it so if you see somebody that’s passionate about something, you’re more likely to become passionate about it than if they’re dispassionate about it, they don’t feel anything about it. Seeing people who have been so inclusive and welcoming and really have been so helpful with me and shaping what I know that I want to do now, I think that that’s made me feel really great, it’s made me feel fantastic, I guess you could say. Just because the people that are there to help you, when they make themselves known, it’s really helpful to you but when you find them and show that you have put a lot of work into what you want to do, they make themselves known easier and they become important parts of whatever it is you want to do.
A time when you have felt excluded: It’s not that it never happened, I probably wasn’t as open. I feel like the times in people’s lives where they probably have the most problem with their sexuality, they’re open and that’s probably why they are having a problem with their sexuality and I totally feel for those people and I was never really one of those people.I probably came to terms more with my sexuality in college then I really did in high school and I feel like that’s probably where most people suffer and that’s what I said with my religion, I never felt excluded because really the time when I was experimenting with religion, I wasn’t really sure of what my sexuality was and to tell you the truth, I probably wasn’t thinking about it but then. When I was in college I probably was beyond the point where I really cared what anybody thought so I never really felt excluded from any sort of group. I just aligned myself with groups that I knew I wouldn’t feel excluded based on whatever I was. Nonreligious, or gay, or whatever. I only aligned myself with groups that I knew would be inclusive towards whatever I thought that I was at the time.
Did it have any effect you? It’s not that I never really felt excluded, like I never probably had the point in my life where I was outwardly being excluded essentially because of one aspect of who I was. I never think anybody excluded me specifically because I was nonreligious or specifically because I was gay but I think that I’ve suffered some of the same sort of stabbing, poking fun of, that some people have faced probably because before I knew I was gay, probably other people thought I was gay. I’ve never really had a problem with it. There was a point in my life where I knew that I was gay and it became a lot easier to talk about it and then before that I never really knew, I never really cared what anyone else said because no one really mattered to me and then the people closest to me, it only really mattered to them because it mattered to me so dealing with those people has been great but where I’m going with this is that just because I have never suffered the straight feelings of being bullied, doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t had to deal with like the stigma of being nonreligious or being gay because I have. Those are stigmas that people have to face. I had to come out to my parents, I’m the first gay person in my family so that was a strange thing. My parents were more than welcoming. I had to come out to my friends, that was also a strange thing, again they were more than welcoming. Some people you bump into and they care but, you know, who cares about them? The people that care just kind of go by the wayside, the people that don’t care are the people that stay in your life and anyone that would try to make somebody feel bad about their spirituality or their sexuality or anything like that is just strange to me and I don’t really know why those people become problems in people’s lives.
Advice for someone who is feeling excluded: I think that everyone can probably find, and I don’t want to speak in generalizations because I know and I hate to sound like I’m speaking in generalizations because other people suffer with a lot more problems than I do and I totally understand that but, I mean, I think the best thing to do if you’re facing people that are being exclusive towards you, don’t want you to be a part of whatever they are doing, being around those people probably is pretty poisonous to begin with, so I don’t know really, my best advice is just to surround yourself with people that are inclusive, are welcoming to new ideas, are welcoming to what you think about yourself, what you think about other things. Those are the best people, just surround yourself with those kind of people. The minute you know you’re hanging out with someone who is being exclusive towards someone, or is just a problem, is bringing you down in any way, they’re probably not the person you should be hanging out with. I don’t say exclude those people, just work through problems that you have with people and the best thing you can do is just communicating your problems well. My best advice to anyone who is feeling excluded anyway is just to communicate your problems with whatever people are being exclusive towards you and then just work through those problems with that person. If you can’t work through those problems, maybe you should find somebody else to surround yourself with.
Advice to the people doing the excluding: The truth is I think that everyone is a little exclusive at some point of their life. I don’t think it does us any good for everyone to pretend like we’ve been the best ever because we haven’t. I mean, everyone has made mistakes so I think the first step we can do is first acknowledging sort of our biases and the problems that we have with people because people have problems with people, it’s nothing new. It’s been happening forever, the first step is acknowledging that you have a problem with someone, communicating that you have a problem with someone and if you can’t work through those problems maybe you shouldn’t really be acknowledging that person to begin with. Maybe that’s probably the problem but you know, my best advice to somebody’s who’s actively being exclusive against someone or exclusionary, my biggest thing to say to those people is just to stop. People have other ideas to add to conversations and excluding those people’s ideas is not helping anyone. Diversity of opinion is the greatest thing to human thought, I think, in the world. So the more opinions the better, the more people there, the better diversity of thought and opinion. By excluding someone you’re not really helping yourself, you’re not really helping that person, so by including that person you have a whole new treasure trove of ideas to dig through.
One thing to make the world a more inclusive place: I don’t think anybody really has the perfect answer to that question. I think everybody can do a little bit every day to make the world a more inclusive place. I don’t think it’s anything that could happen overnight. I think it’s something that everyone has to sort of build to. I think we’re getting a lot better as a society, all these preambles I know it doesn’t matter really, but I think the best thing we can do is make sure our laws are as inclusive as possible. I think our groups should be as inclusive as possible. The body politics should be as inclusive as possible, just because the more diverse, by inclusiveness I mean really diversity of opinions and ideas, and the reason I say that is because the greater diversity of opinions and ideas we have in our workplaces, in our universities, and our schools, the greater diversity of opinions we have in those places, I think the more inclusive we’ll be because we won’t really see any reasons to exclude people.I think that by creating more diverse institutes we can really create a body of thinking Americans and an international body of people that can really work though problems and be inclusive at the same time because we won’t really see as many divisions and I’m not talking about your sort of classic idea of a colorblind world. Nobody really thinking thinks that’s a good idea, or that that exists or could exist anywhere but I mean, how to be more inclusive is really just about opening yourself to new ideas. New ideas come from new people and by including those people in your group of, you know, in your treasure trove of ideas, you can definitely have a more inclusive society.
“I think that with anything, the more inclusive the people are, when you’re trying to become a part of that group, the easier it is to be a part of it and the more easy it becomes to become passionate about it...”
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"human." is a culmination of the writing, photo, video and design work of Harrison Brink and Alisa Miller. It is meant to act as a forum where we show the vitality of the human spirit through the strife that people face and overcome. If you have any suggestions for the project, please contact us. All input is welcome.