Not for the first time, it occurs to me to notice how often spiritual endeavors are used as a means of constraining or cajoling others. It's a hell of a good warning sign, I think, but that doesn't mean anyone is likely to heed the warning any time soon. Using religion or spiritual pointers as a kind of overarching ethical rule book for society really is a poor man's game.
This morning, as one egregious example, a friend sent along an article depicting an Indiana Republican candidate's assertion that "I came to realise that life is that gift from God and I think even when
life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God
intended to happen."
This might be funny if there weren't so many bloody implications: People will literally kill you for what they believe. Idiocy is an equal-opportunity employer. And if you put enough idiots together in one room, woe betide the man or woman who is not an idiot.
OK ... once anyone gets past the knee-jerk outrage this Indiana Republican has excited then maybe it is a good time to notice...
Beating the crap out of others in the name of God or religion or whatever is sometimes egregiously unkind. But worse, it is inaccurate. Religion may start out as an ethical rule book by which to rein in unfortunate habits, but when it starts being applied to others (hey man, I don't want to suffer alone ... you have to do what I have to do!), it really has gone a step too far.
The altruists in the crowd may nod in agreement, but how many times have they opened their own mouths to use the word "we" or "one" in an effort to find some cozy company (and perhaps elevate their own stature and make some money)? It may sound kind, but looking more closely, it has an imperious and imperial stamp.
Miching, simpering, placating, insisting, elevating ... "We are all filled with greed, anger and folly" or "One needs to see through the veils of ego."
It is as if, were I to state my convictions as simply that -- my convictions -- then my voice would go unheard; I would be less significant in an uncaring universe; and my beliefs and hopes and fears would be far less important than I believe them to be.
It is hard to be little when so many activities are aimed at making me big... big with God, big with 'compassion,' big with wisdom, big at work, big enough to convince others who then convince me. Hell, if I were just me, who the hell would I be? Wouldn't I be a nobody? It is hard to be a "nobody" when I work so hard to be "somebody."
My own conviction as to a more accurate approach is this: Everybody already is somebody ... it's just not the somebody they hope to be. And this somebody is vastly more important than the importance that appears to be missing.
Can I prove it? Nope. Do I want to? Nope. Shall I beat you over the head with it as a means of confirming or elevating such a conviction? Nope.
It is just a conviction that seems to be born out in attention and responsibility.