What it Means to Be a STAND Member
Recently, I had the privilege of meeting up with some of my fellow STAND members at our brand-new Church in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. As I made my way around the room, talking to a few people I knew and many more I didn’t, I was reminded of a few things:
Scientologists are, almost without exception, really nice people. That’s something you could say of many people and groups, but I’m always reminded that being an above average communicator and expressing a heightened regard for other people is something most Scientologists have in common. It’s an exceptionally articulate group of people who know and speak their own minds.
Scientologists have been genuinely abused in the media. This was brought into stark relief for me while listening to the stories of my fellow bloggers—people of diverse race, age, and personal and professional backgrounds—all of whom expressed extraordinary relief and happiness at finally being able to tell the world what it’s like to practice their faith, as well as what it’s like to experience the kind of bigotry that no one should have to deal with. We have operated in a hostile environment since day one, and it has always felt bewildering and incongruous with the reality. The philosophy itself and the everyday miracles that Scientologists achieve by applying it make the relentless media attacks, bigotry and outright hate speech seem that much stranger. The more involved you become in Scientology—and thus the more understanding you have about what it is and what it isn’t—the crazier the attacks on it seem.
I think about artists and public figures who have stood up for the Church and for Scientology as a philosophy and the staggering amount of grief—the “politics of personal destruction”—that they’ve been subjected to. So why do it? Why not just keep one’s head down and one’s private life private?
Because the most valuable thing that any human being has is the ability and the right to help others. And when you’ve personally experienced the kind of help Scientology offers—the kind of help that doesn’t demand pledges of blind loyalty or a belief in something you don’t understand, the kind of help that asks only that you look for yourself and you operate with a sense of personal integrity in everything you do—it becomes important to you to help ensure other people can experience that same thing, because it’s life-changing. Personal self-interest takes a backseat. In a social-media-obsessed, “selfie” culture, the concept of being “selfless” probably seems strange to many, but Scientologists as a group understand that helping another is literally the most rewarding thing you can do in life. The hate speech out there about Scientology makes it seem “crazy,” makes you wonder “how could any rational person be a part of this?” to which every Scientologist responds, “Exactly!” It can’t possibly be both what it says it is—an applied religious philosophy that individuals use to better their lives and the lives of those around them—and also be any of what the tabloid press claims. And the fact that so much money has been made by so many media outlets for so many decades by spinning out the same crap that makes no sense over and over is exasperating in the extreme.
To finally raise our hands, raise our voices and say, through this site: “Enough with the lies, the innuendo and tabloid headlines and the astoundingly offensive and inaccurate crap parroted, zombie-like, by so many” is incredibly empowering. It feels like justice can finally be served now that we can call out individuals and media outlets whose moral compass is so far gone that “eyeballs” and “impressions” and “clicks” are the only currency that matter. Scientology and the STAND blog in particular are a voice for civility and a sane level of discourse that is rapidly disappearing in our society—a voice for genuine freedom, thoughtful dialogue and personal accountability, where every individual only says what they actually mean and what they have personally observed to be true.
The truth will outshine a lie every time. Any sane person who spends time reading through these blogs would inevitably come to the conclusion that if these writers represent Scientology and Scientologists writ large, then there’s obviously something about the philosophy that this impressive and articulate group of people find incredibly rewarding and helpful.
We live in a time when faith itself is under attack. Belief in something greater than yourself is either ostracized, made to seem backward, unintelligent, or unthinking, or it’s being corrupted by the tiny minority of genuinely insane people on this planet who would use any belief system to justify their urge for violence and terror. But Scientologists don’t just stand up for their own right to believe (and, by extension, freedom of thought in general), they stand up for the rights of every person on earth to live lives of true integrity—to observe what they personally know to be true, and then act in every instance in a way that honors that truth. Every one of us deserves that kind of freedom and it can’t be stolen by even the loudest and most powerful voices if brave people stand together to defend it.
The truth will outshine a lie every time. Any sane person who spends time reading through these blogs (as I’ve had the pleasure of doing more and more recently) would inevitably come to the conclusion that if these writers represent Scientology and Scientologists writ large, then there’s obviously something about the philosophy that this impressive and articulate group of people find incredibly rewarding and helpful. The fact that there’s now a vehicle for you to hear “John Q. Scientologist” voice his opinion and speak from the heart is exciting. It’s also genuinely therapeutic to write and to read.
I walked out of our STAND meeting feeling energized, proud of my group, and optimistic that my son might grow up in a culture where respecting the religious beliefs of others will be the norm, not the exception.