Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Long Shot

NPR has (had?) a segment called, "What I Believe" that would air every so often. I haven't listened for at least a year, so nobody try to guilt me into donating to NPR. Anyway, the few essays I listened to were interesting and got me to wondering what I'd say. So for lack of another topic for this month (I have a mere 1 hour and 40 minutes to get something in), here's a brief and probably poorly written ramble of something that I think I believe.

Growing up, I was pretty quiet and allowed others to pick on me without fighting back. I hated it, but never wanted to make things worse (which is what I assumed would be the result). So I think that as a result of that, I have a soft-spot for the underdog.

By "underdog" I mean a person or group (or animal, etc.) that seems to be the minority or hold the weaker stance in any conflict. So I am probably a sucker for the long-shot bet.

Another consequence of this bias is that I seem to have an automatic problem with authority figures. I can get over that problem as long as I can see the justification of that authority. If I think a person in charge is an idiot, I look for ways to avoid that person or thwart them in any way I can (without risking conflict that would result in escalation - because I am a wimp, after all).

I have enough experience to know that often the majority is right, and that the weaker position is weak for good reason. But it isn't always this way. So when I believe that a weaker person or group (etc.) is on the receiving end of abuse, it fires me up.

The word "belief" tends to conjure religious associations. For good reason, as religion is just belief adorned with bizarre ceremonies, costumes, trinkets of wood, plaster, paint, glass, gold, and too often, blood.

I am tired of religion. I am tired of hearing that all the good is thanks to God, while all the bad is our own fault. I cringe when I hear people say they will pray for this and that - like a cure for cancer. If (or when) such a cure arrives, its arrival will be credited to God by many. Not so much the people who lived and died working toward that cure. Losing sleep, some losing loved ones to the very cancers they were working to cure. This actually pisses me off because we (humans) are the underdogs.

Before anyone's nose gets out of joint, don't think that my point here is an atheistic one. I think it is a psychological one.

If this world was made for us, then we should be able to do with it as we will (which is what we've been doing). Surely God will step in before we ruin things too much, right? If someone were to calculate the man-hours spent praying in a given year, imagine how much time that would be?! What a waste of time! If you were on a slowly sinking boat, would it be a good idea to sit and pray, or bail water?

Here is what I believe. Until people can come to put their faith entirely in people, and just people, we will be a doomed race. Humans must come to believe in themselves. Children grow up and become self-sufficient - that doesn't mean they never had parents. So if you must continue to believe in a God, then fine - but you should believe more in people. There's more evidence that there are people on this planet than there is evidence of any particular god.

We seem to be a race of middle-aged children who have yet to leave our parents' basement bedroom! It's as though we expect that some guiding force will protect us from ourselves.

Why do we have to rely on that? Why can't we believe in ourselves?

So again, I find myself rooting for the underdog. In this case, us. Belief in a god seems to be an obstacle to our growth as a race. God is the abusive domineering partner in our relationship. But, like is too often the case in such relationships, we make excuses for the abuse, we come back to the abuser time-and-time again. We refuse the restraining order, we won't press charges. We think the abuse is our own fault (mostly true) and if we just behave better, we'll be taken care of (never true).

We call ourselves "civilized" but, as Inigo Montoya once said, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."