Whatever Gets You Through the Night
Hello again from the Old Man on the Mountain. In my previous piece, “Oh My God”, I discussed my religious beliefs and what has become a new direction (for me). Today’s story is a continuation of my journey to discovery, which I’d like to share with you. Again, I don’t want to rile the masses or claim to be the “know all/end all” of religion, this is just my opinion and mine alone, right or wrong.
As part of my continuing journey to enlightenment I started to examine the human psyche (mine in particular) and how my need for religion came to be. Could I live without it? If not, what was it I needed from religion? And which religion? After much thought I was able to narrow it down to this – emotions drive my need for religion. Specifically:
“Despair – a loss of hope; hopelessness, gloom, disheartenment. Despair, desperation, despondency, discouragement and hopelessness refer to a state of mind caused by circumstances that seem too much to cope with. Despair suggests total loss of hope, which may be passive or may drive one to furious efforts”. This is the “official” dictionary explanation. We’re all familiar with despair – we’ve all felt it at one time or another. We can’t help it. We’re “Human”, and as such are blessed (or cursed) with “emotions”. And, just like “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” (for those unfamiliar with this statement, you need to spend time learning physics – you won’t regret it), for every emotion there is an equal and opposite emotion. In this case, that would be:
“Hope – the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”. This is the “official” dictionary explanation as well. Notice that the explanation is much shorter than “Despair”. What does this mean, you ask? Well, to me it means that “Hope” needs help. Now we’ve all experienced hope as well. From “I hope I get some candy when we get to the store” (low level) to “Please don’t let Dad die” (high level). Now, our psyche can handle low and medium level hope requests ourselves – we’ll find the resources. But a high level hope request, well this requires something “not of this earth” and that folks, is where religion comes in.
Religion is Hope’s highest level request handler. The one, all-encompassing source to drive away any type of “Despair”. We’ve all experienced this as well. Calling to our “God” for help at the most dire of times. Or when we just don’t feel that we have the energy to “go it alone”. And Faith, which is the belief in the unseen and unknowing – basically “not of this earth”. Which leads to the questions “Does it really matter WHAT a person believes in, as long as it gets them past Despair?” “Should someone tell them what to believe in (or believe in again)?” And “how strong are the average person’s religious beliefs?”
Well, here’s how I see it – you NEVER mess with the one thing a human being has to overcome Despair. Period. So what I garner from this is simple – “each individual cherishes their religion above all else”. Be it Christian, Muslim, Water or Rocks – whatever belief an individual holds as their religion (based on all the religious wars to date) is worth killing or dying for. Killing or dying – what strong emotions – definitely a warning to all others not to “mess” with them in this area. That would be the “Smart” thing to do. But some of us believe that WE know what’s really best, and try to “remove” an individual’s religion and replace it with their own. Speaking only as a former Christian, I’ve read the stories of missionaries traveling the world (and America in particular) to “convert the heathens (non-believers)”.
You know, our Founding Fathers had the right idea for America – freedom of religion (without persecution). Does it really matter WHAT a person believes in, as long as it gets them past despair? Not to me. And if you value your religion and/or beliefs, it shouldn’t matter to you either. After all, not everyone wants someone to tell them what to believe in, or believe in again. Some folks just know what it takes to get them through the night. And if you truly want to end all the religious wars, just RESPECT the other guy’s choice – it’s that simple.