Faith, Religion, and The Hot Potato of Blame
Today I was talking to a friend at college about religion. I don’t chat about about religion much, but it really got me thinking. I felt compelled to write down everything I think I know about religion here.
First of all, I reckon that I’m fortunate enough to have a good spiritual stability because I have faith in something that is not person-based.
Most ideas of God are very human-like. When God was a topic at school, ten-year-old Jenny’s mental image was of a middle-aged man with a really big beard.
The form of God which I believe in doesn’t have a beard. Or a gender. Or any rules. However I do believe that this spiritual anarchy is policed by Karma. And Karma has sharp teeth.
Some people believe in “being good” throughout their lifetime purely for the sake of an improved next life. They save up good Karma the way that my dad saves grocery coupons to put towards holiday packages. I feel that they are slightly missing the point.
“Being good” means different things to different people. And some people spend parts of their lives miserable because they are trying to live up to impossible ideals, worried about angelic bouncers at the Pearly Gates. If we worked together to make this lifetime a better place for everyone instead of separately gathering points for a ticket to Heaven, we would be living the dream.
That isn’t to say I don’t believe in something after death. I do. But I think that like death, what happens next is inevitable, and the same destination for anything which was once living. Segregation between a Heaven or Hell doesn’t really compute for me.
Religion can be a wonderful thing, a real force for good. Problems in any (and every) religion always come from a handful of the people in it, not the deity associated with them. Some people in religion, for whom I would agree with the general idea associated with the label of “bad people” use fear to control others.
What are people generally most afraid of?
DEATH. It’s an inevitable fate from which no one has lived to tell the tale.
And this is where the angelic bouncers come in. Handing out haloes to “good people” who have obeyed the rules and earned their ticket to the version of the Pearly Gates that they subscribed to.
The problem here isn’t that “good people” are people who have obeyed the rules. The problem is if “bad people” have set the rules.
In any chain of delegation, corruption or misinterpretation or instructions is extremely likely (and especially if any cherubs with Auditory Processing Disorder were involved). As well as being an enormous force for good, religion can be used as an excuse for terrible Things.
Religion can also be used for Nothings. When something awful happens, people often need someone to blame. Blame is a Hot Potato, and divine fingers tend not to get burned. Holy instructions delegated through “bad people” can turn terrible Things such as Public Stonings into something socially acceptable. In the process, terrible Nothings can also be committed, consciences cleared as quickly as the burning-hot spud of morality is flung away with a yelp.
I came across this saying in the front pages of a book a while ago.
“All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.”
Nothings can be wrong things which “haven’t” been done. Like all the people at a stoning who gather there for entertainment, encouraging the gruesome public event. Although they don’t cast the stones, they are also part of the victim’s cruel death.
I think I read something about casting stones somewhere………
Nothings can also be right things which haven’t been done. For example:
If you saw someone drowning, would you do something, or pray for your deity to send an angel to their aid?
Is the Lifeguard who dives in to rescue them a result of divine intervention? Or would it have been better to throw them a float and pray after they are safely on dry ground?
I don’t know if I believe in angels. Maybe they’re there, maybe they’re not. But I am certain that whether divine intervention exists or not, we have to help each other out. Maybe in a way angels do exist in forms including Shelter volunteers, Paramedics, The Salvation Army, Lifeguards, Firemen and those friends who make you feel better when you’re sad.
If we are each other’s angels does that mean we’re also responsible for the outcome of each other’s lives?
We could be, in a butterfly-effect kind of way.
Every choice we make effects a lot of people in tiny ways. Just a tiny thing like giving a smile to someone who doesn’t have one, passes out just a little positivity to them, and in some way to everyone they encounter too. And then everyone who those people encounter, and it goes on like that, hopefully spreading the echoes of a smile all the way around the whole world. Or something delightfully cheesetastic like that.
If events in our lives are determined by the random acts of billions of other people, does that mean there is no such thing as Fate?
I believe that if you ask the universe for something, you can get what you wish for. But you have to meet it halfway. If you work hard to follow the direction of your dreams, the universe will help you gain momentum and maybe help you out in the form of what seems like sheer amazing luck. What I want most at the moment is to be a professional drummer. For me that means doing paradiddles on trains and buses, listening hard to drumbeats in songs, and practicing as much as possible. In my free time, which there is currently not a lot of, I work hard to improve my skills. And sometimes, although I am very definitely not religious, I think “Stars, please let me be a drummer!”