It seems to be a human need that we all have to have some sort of belief in a higher thing. Every culture that’s ever been, had some sort of belief system. I think it’s an unavoidable side effect of our unique consciousness. The people I’ve met, who ended up believing in absolutely nothing, were nearly always hell-bent on some sort of suicidal course, and they always succeeded in the end or found something to live for.
We all go through life and at some point, we all see some stuff. Sometimes, it’s so bad, or it’s just that last final straw; there’s just nothing to be said. Grim, grey and merciless days when nothing will get you through, except turning your face away from the suffering of others. Sometimes, you’ve got to do some hard things yourself, because you want to survive. We’re all human and want to live.
We all lose our way. It’s not as if you’ve always thought there’s one certain road you should be on, but rather that you hunker down at some point somewhere and you realise for the first time in your life, you just couldn’t give a damn anymore. Soldiering on just doesn’t seem to be an option. There doesn’t even seem to be a road. It’s all a desolate wasteland and even those few solitary rocks placed as markers along the side of that sandy track across the desert it eventually came down to, are now gone. You’re fresh out of markers. Markers are, markers were and markers are no more. Wipeout.
You’re tired, bone tired and there’s just no more gas in the tank. You’re buggered. You’ve given it everything you had and for the first time in your life, you’re going to give up and you’re beyond caring. It actually don’t matter, nothing much does. It don’t mean a thing. There’s nothing left.
It’s in that blank, numb moment when you cast yourself adrift on the sea of giving up, that you have to think back over what you’ve done with your life. You have to somehow reach deep down into yourself to try and find something to keep you going, a point, a reason, anything. Once you skip past the juvenile silliness, you get to the mature decisions. It was always about love but not love of yourself but of others. You were the strong one and it was never about you. Anyone else could screw up but not you and they all looked to you, because you were the awkward bastard who appeared to know what he was doing and they always knew they could rely on you to come through. That facade has just been well and truly shattered and you’re somehow relieved.
You always managed to fix them but now you’re the one who needs some bloody fixing. You grin and move from squatting like a gook to actually finally relaxing and sitting on your butt in the dust. You no longer care. It’s a day for firsts.
The words for some experiences simply haven’t been invented. They cut right through and over and under and across any ideas of good or bad, morality, or any formal religious notions you’ve been brought up to believe in. There’s no human mercy in them. It’s just the wasting of human beings. They never even had any chance to participate in the live a good life, and big G will reward you with an eternity of bliss, in some sort of Heaven thing. The usual way to handle it is to say that God moves in mysterious ways. It’s just the will of God.
I suppose that’s a welcome explanation for the inexplicable but it’s never worked for me. Mostly, it was things I’d seen or recognised and there was an essential inhumanity about them that I found unacceptable and never will. So many times, it was stuff that had already happened or that I knew there was no way I could have had any effect on, and I understand that, but I can’t walk away from it. To my last dying breath, I’ll never walk away from it.
You have to face life with some basic sense of decency. If you don’t have that or you lose it, you’re truly a lost soul.
What I won’t accept is going through the same loop again and again without fighting, without giving it my best shot, to at least try to ensure that nothing like that should ever happen again. Not on my watch, never again and that’s what has come to define me. I don’t believe in Karma, I don’t believe in acceptance of some superior being’s agenda and I most certainly don’t believe in God’s will and mysterious ways, when it comes to the preventable slaughter of the innocents. If that’s what he does for a living, then he’s just another evil bastard, and I will find some way to burn down Heaven, if that is what is required.
The odds really don’t matter. They were always shitty anyway. It’s about your heart. It’s about doing something, anything but at least doing something. My belief system revolves around the sure and certain conviction that we’re all significant, that we all matter and that one person can make a difference. Save just one life, and that’s a big win. Nobody is write offable, especially the forgotten ones out of sight. You’re not going to win many battles, a few you might just maybe pull off a draw on, but once in a while, just once in a while, you’ll win one, and that’s what makes it all worthwhile. If you’d given up or never tried, that little step would not have been achieved.
I’ve had too many wars in my life to go looking for a new one but the climate wars found me. You see a situation on the ground and when you think it over, you realise it’s just the consequence of decisions made in other, higher, far away places, by people who won’t look hard at the results of those decisions. It’s all just the unthinking collateral damage of policies made in other countries, so there’s no point in fighting it locally, because those consequences are happening all over the world. Your little local tragedy is just a part of something a lot bigger. It’s carnage and a slow motion carnage, happening in far off places to invisible people, already living a marginal existence.
I think you have to find a new morality for yourself, something personal that fits into the real world that you see in front of you with your own eyes. Some of us go on the grand tour of trying out various different flavours of religion until they find one they’re comfortable with, but I’ve always thought that all the religions share the same common certitude that there’s someone up there who cares about us and we’re all doing some life long test to determine if we’re virtuous and therefore deserve entrance to Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise or whatever promise is being dangled in front of us, to help us get through the bad times.
I can neither disprove that notion, nor I think can it be proved either, despite the attempts of some clever people like Aquinas and Teilhard de Chardin. In formal logic terms, disproving a negative. It is in the end, an act of faith and it’s no longer within me to make it, but I do have respect for people who still have the capacity for that true faith, irrespective of which god it’s held for.
I’ve seen days where if there was a God, he’d have done something, anything. I think it’s up to us, you and me, to care for each other. As far as I can make out, we’re it, like it or not. There’s just us. The logical progression of that idea, is that you can either act like a selfish animal or develop a personal caring morality which dictates you have to do something about those things that harm us all. Behind those things are always people of influence. You start off fighting for something but end up fighting against something and the people behind it. I’ve never had a problem with that.
George Orwell observed that there are people who stand guard on the borders of civilisation, who’re quite prepared to do the questionable things necessary to preserve it. In a similar sense, when it comes down to fighting for the victims of environmental politics, I am one of those men and make no apologies for what I am nor what I do.
I understand that while you’re fighting for something important, sacrifices will eventually have to be made but when damage is being done to human beings in the name of a bogus chimera like global warming, then that is evil and has to be resisted. Once recognised, it would be immoral to shrug your shoulders, sit on the sidelines with your ass in the dust and do nothing. The worst betrayal of those you love, would be to accept the current situation, no matter how overwhelming the odds looked.
You have to get up.
You struggle back to your feet again, dust off your hands and slowly suit up for the next battle. A cursory equipment check and you slouch forward, back into the fray. You’re fighting for that most compelling of causes – the defenseless. There can be no excuses nor any days off. Once in, you just can’t walk away.
For me personally, it’s been another year of failure. I didn’t stop it dead in its tracks, which I know is an outrageous expectation for any one individual, so more people were killed by it. The dead look at me silently in my darker moments and I avoid their eyes, because I have no decent answer to give them. There is no decent answer. I see their faces. I scratch my head and come to terms with that. I’ve done my best but it wasn’t good enough, so as I hold my hands over my head, I look down at the grain of my desk and stare at it and resolve to do a lot better next year, as all failures do. Sometimes, that’s all you can do but I really hate it.
If there is a supreme being and I’m eventually to be brought up before them to be judged, I’ll refuse. I’ll ask them instead where they were, when the grief was being lashed out in big callous bucketfuls. I’ll know where I was, and will stride into heaven, hell or oblivion with a clear conscience.
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