To reconcile the teachings I have picked up in the past six years with the life I see around me is not an easy task.
It is not easy, for one thing, to confront the thousand ‘God’ references that I hear in a day, without cringing. How horrifying it is to me that most of the world believes in scraps of paper put together hastily, drawing conclusions about life and how to live it and about having a God, to the point that they will kill for it, fight for it, get offended for it, be granted special obligations for it and face no flak for it?
Even though I spent my teens thinking I could ‘talk’ to God- and not any of the mythological Gods from any of the holy textbooks that I know of, but to an omnipresent, almighty God who knows all and governs all, it scares me that such an idea should be harbored and drilled long and hard into most human beings. An omnipresent God who watches over everything, judges everything, knows everything, holds your fate in his hand and has the power to destroy you, can give away or give back anything and everything you own and yet loves you and does everything good for you? A God or Gods whose will you must follow by being kind and generous and selfless and giving? A God whose heritage you must adore and adorn and glorify? None of this sounds tempting to me- it sounds scary and disgusting. It is as though, if there is a ‘God’, I must twist and contort the definition a million times around because I do not think any of the Gods described in any of the religions of the world can be benevolent and wonderful in the way they want us to believe. A God, to me, can only be a Master; a slave-driver, hedonistic, sadistic, envious and jealous.
It is regrettable for me to have reached these conclusions and yet I did, independently; not by former questioning but merely by a simple examination of facts. So simple, in fact, that it feels as if it was right there in front of my eyes, staring at me and I was too blind to see. Why, then, am I the one who will be prosecuted and asked to take my statements back, were they ever to reach an audience wide enough to want to condemn it? Why should I be an apologist? I already know that I am in a lot of trouble for being twenty-two and thinking this way. I am already a sinner and a condemner and a heretic in almost all the religions of the world. But more than that, I will be perceived as being unkind and insensitive and generally absurd for claiming the thing that stares everyone right in their face!
Why all the death and destruction over such utter nonsense? If we must live our lives by a code, the best way to formulate one would be through private assimilation. We do, after all, tend to do this anyway. I think I am a kind, loving and gentle person. I cry if I see hurt in the world, I treat lying and cheating and thievery as abominable (though not rigidly so) in my personal life and I try to strive for personal happiness without over-stepping into the boundaries of others, if I can help them. Those are good starting points on which one can build a successful and honest life without labeling oneself under any particular religion.
Think, then, of the natural posture one must adopt when one is supposed to ‘pray’. How fare more reverent is the human temple Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark offers in The Fountainhead? A monument where one walks in and feels uplifted, feels the magnificence of himself as opposed to that of a ruler at whose feet one must grovel for forgiveness. The only thing that is there in front of our eyes is the rest of the world which consists of other human beings all of whom are struggling, like us, to find meaning for seventy years before turning into stardust once again. Why then must we fight holy wars and create barriers; killing but not just killing, also hurting through words and actions, fellow human beings just because they were born to someone whose forefathers happened to be in closer proximity to a particular religion over another?
And the argument that my religion is peace-loving in its core, human beings have made it this way? It saddens me even more that this claim, with which I spent my entire liberal childhood, is not so true after all. All religious texts are interspersed with at least a sprinkling, if not more, of vengeance-seeking, weapon-yielding, mass-murdering Gods, not to mention all the atrocities faced by their women-folk. All Gods seem to have a sort of blood-thirst which requires great wars or genocides to be fulfilled.
I cannot climb on board the God express now, even as consolation or reconciliation with a loved one. Most humans are, of course, well-meaning in their love towards their own religion, non-violent in tolerance and just trying to lead good lives but more of them need to question the premise of God and stop looking down upon the fact that He is absolutely unnecessary and that the actual presence of such a creature gives us more reason to be scared than its absence because if a God is watching your every move and you are supposed to love him for eternity, you aren’t being given much choice about anything at all, which in turn goes right around in a circular argument to suggest that without the presence of choice and free will, how can this God claim to any of the good things that He says He is? If He exists, you are just a puppet and by the sheer force of logic, this becomes the truth.
I was never upset by these discoveries, of course. Over two years I built up quite a strong case in my head about which side of the coin I wanted to be on. I am quite certain of myself in this regard, at least. What still hurts is the fact that so many well-meaning people are walking about their daily lives believing ancient lies meant, more often than not, to make submissive and subservient followers out of them, a few thousand years ago.
How much more hurt and divisions and pain and destruction and death must we pointlessly face over something that is nothing? A puff of smoke is causing this! A layer of nothingness is responsible for it. Who atones for all the people who died for nothing, except the fact that someone thought their interpretation of ‘nothing’ was better than anyone else’s? Whether you call it karma, misfortune, repayment, punishment or something far more creative and far less lucrative, the truth will remain that random murders have and occurred and will never stop unless each of us take it upon ourselves to examine the facts.
This famous quote from a Nazi concentration camp puts my entire case to rest for today:
My God why have you forsaken me?
To bend means to lie
If there is a god, he must ask me forgiveness