I read an editorial in a British periodical that bemoaned articles and features found in “women’s” magazines. I, myself, don’t subscribe to any, nor would I encourage anyone else, male or female, to subscribe to them, for they appear to be (with the possible exception of “Ms.”, which, in the 1990’s, re-started itself as a feminist publication that actually dealt with real issues) glossy adverts for fashion houses who want to sell me an image and the publisher of recipes unlikely to be cooked outside of its pages or the culinary fantasies of its readers. Specifically, the writer of the article didn’t want to read any more articles about what to wear, how to perform sexually with a man, or what a privileged “star” thinks about things about which they know nothing. Okay. I can relate to that – kind of…
I listened to an audiobook recently. It’s titled Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? and is written by Jeanette Winterson. A very well-written and read autobiographical account of her journey as an adopted child of a non-demonstrative (in terms of love), strict christian couple, Why Be Happy is a book I recommend to anyone who has ever experienced, as a child, the exquisite pain of feeling unloved and unwanted. Whether this feeling is caused by external circumstances or internal anxiety, her words express the emotions clearly and thoughtfully. K listened to much of it with me, and I think she appreciated it, as well.
A book that I recently finished is Why We Believe in God(s), by my former shrink, Dr. J. Anderson Thomson. He wrote the book after 9/11, which he experienced through his son, who worked in a building across the street from the World Trade Center buildings that were destroyed. I was actually gladdened by his development as both a psychiatrist (in reading what makes people tick) and as a thinker. He now sits on the Board of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Dawkins wrote the Forward. Thomson writes that humans are, in their very makeup as creatures who seek out patterns, more likely to believe in the existence of external entities with intent and meaning than not. We must be able to get outside of our own instinctual desire to believe in some greater force or power to understand that there is, in reality, nothing that could lead one to supposedly “know” what so many religionists claim to “know” beyond the shadow of a doubt, though there is no proof whatsoever for the likelihood or existence of such an entity or entities.
Such faith in that which is perceived as spiritual or otherwise otherworldly knowledge is beyond me, as I’m sure you, as a reader, know. I find myself bound by the scientific method. I am willing to accept, not on faith, but on reason, such things as immunizations that are shown to decrease the likelihood of dreadful diseases, medicines that have been shown to lesson physical and psychic suffering, and the physics that enables planes to fly.
I heard an article recently that stated that although many people profess religious faith, we, as a society, live as though we are all atheists (except jihadists, of course, who might be the only ones who actually live the commandments of their deity whose dignity is threatened by virtually everything). Why buy car/auto/life insurance if I’m confident that god will take care of me and my family/loved ones? Why stop at red lights if my personal angel will make sure I won’t meet up with some nasty traffic incident? Indeed, we must all, in reality, live as atheists. Some of us just acknowledge it. I’m willing to entertain all possibilities, so I will admit that I am, in essence, an agnostic, for I don’t profess to know that there is no “skydaddy,” but at the very same, I’m not willing to bet on its existence, either. I’m not a gambler by nature (though some of my life decisions were, indeed, calculated risks for which I am now living the consequences), so I’m not betting on the possibility of there being a Supreme Being who takes an interest in my personal well-being, or that of anyone else.
There’s no eternal homecoming at the end of this world and universe (as we know it). Our species might end, and we will take many other species with us; but the earth, unless humans manage to create so destructive a force (like the Death Star of Star Wars infamy) that we manage to destroy it, this very planet, the Earth, as we call it, will continue. If Gaia (if such a personification can be given to the living planet) could rid herself of us, the most invasive and destructive species known, then I think she’d be relieved and pleased. It’ll likely be at a high cost (other species that will also be lost) to get rid of the human species, but, in the long run, the planet will be, on the whole, better off, and will, given geological time, rejuvenate and continue to evolve.