Sunday, November 23, 2008

why bother?

So one of the questions that arises from the ongoing comment thread in the "Karen's Wish" post (over 40 comments thus far) is this:

When it comes to seeking religious harmony, why bother?

To me, the question is similar to asking why we bother doing anything when we know, bone-deep, that death awaits all of us, that all our efforts will eventually come to nothing, that the entire human race is, ultimately, a minuscule thing on the cosmic scale-- its history a mere Nabokovian spark between two eternities of blackness.

Full disclosure: I'm not a utopianist, and not a fan of John Lennon's vision that the world will "live as one," mainly because that sort of rhetoric is easy to utter, but immediately bogs down when we try to get into specifics.

I think human existence is a messy business, and will remain so. We haven't really evolved in an emotional sense: we still understand and, more important, relate to the motives of ancient literary figures. Humans haven't changed, not where it counts, and until we start tinkering directly with our genes, we'll still be the same venal species we've always been, with or without religion.

Yet we strive. We hope. Why?

Maybe it's a bit like cleaning your kitchen: you know it's going to be dirty again come the next meal, yet you still cook, eat, and clean up. Or maybe hope is linked to the ancient throb of the survival impulse, but why is there such an impulse in the first place?
Questions. Always more questions.



Rhesus said...

I see more hope in less harmony. Real harmony requires the giving-up of some distinctive quality by all the parties involved. This rarely happens.

More common is situations where one party is privileged in some way over the others. A marriage in which the wife is totally submissive to the husband shows a lot of evident harmony.

Better to have freedom and contention than submission and harmony.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that even the "Watchmen's" attempt at a Utopian society would succeed in today's pessimistic one. However, I hope they get the film right.

The closest religions may ever get to existing in harmony, is if someone plugs us all into a "Matrix" and makes sure the plugs are solid and aren't subject to technical glitches or power outages. Sometimes, I wish I lived back in the times when my scientific-minded brain didn’t have to overanalyze all of the data that is constantly being fed into it by dubious sources, which of course, include a lot of religions, and their minions, that will be proven wrong if there ever is a judgment day. Whoever said, “live life like it was your last day,” had it right, but they must have also been a bit more well off than most.

Personally, I still can't believe that we aren't all living in our own virtual reality worlds surrounded by a buffet of big breasted women, fast cars and planes, great food, and even better, drink, while living in our very own palaces/beach resorts/distant planets. The nineties sure got this prediction wrong.

John, on my way back to Daejeon