We live in dreary depths of arrogance with the fear of asking questions and the fright of answering likewise. It is in our deplorable state of cyclical nihilism and secular outer shells that everything and anything that challenges what we want and everything and anything that is contrary to ourselves and everything and anything that threatens misconceptions is avoided, refrained from, ignored. We understand religiosity from what we watch on the television or investigate on internet comments with no regard, no interest, no curiosity for our fellow men. We ascribe fanaticism or ungratefulness or arrogance or ignorance to who we want and what we want when we want without ever wondering why.
To almost everyone I have ever spoken to, I see a miserable state in our conversations on philosophy and the surreal. There is an impenetrable nihilism in their eyes and voices to know others, to understand things, to learn. There is no motivation nor curiosity to ask others questions. Why are you religious? Why do you believe what you do? Why did you reject God? Fools and idiots, we are, for having not the slightest dare to ask the most important questions, the most essential things to our existence. I have asked many a time why people live in mundane existence, or why people have chosen their respective paths. And the answers are often stupid, commonplace, so inelaborate and so hardly thought out that I don’t know why I bother asking in the first place. And to those who give good answers, never do they ask in return. We live secular lives with secular goals and secular bars and in secular discourse. Religion is in the closet, left so meager as to rot on the floor with our souls as we turn our backs in exchange for self wallowing decadence. Decadence in money, fame, family or even simple existence. Decadence in the commonplace rather then the exotic, arcane, and esoteric. Decadence to comes in meaningless absorption of knowledge, with no purpose other then to satisfy a casual and attention deficient momentary curiosity. True curiosity, true searches for knowledge, true yearns for purpose requires that we look for conscious genuine reasons.
During one harangue on the subject, a close friend asked, “OK, why are you religious?”. The nature of such a question is wholly scaffolding (a word I made up and will explain another day) and unsettling, so I simply refused to answer. The question is no better then asking one “What is your view on the world?” or “what is your opinion on politics?” If you are capable of answering within ten minutes, you haven’t thought enough.
If we want to earnestly understand each other, we have to ask these questions in increments as a living. It should be an essential part of any friendship to learn from the other, to see the way they interpret the world consistently and never ending. We are so afraid of the subject of worldviews, of faith, of religion, and it is a scary reality that is going to destroy us. Our souls are at stake, our humanity, our ways of life. We must communicate with each other, we must ask these questions, we must learn.
We understand those who disagree through digital media of distant people and never with those around to us. Those dirty liberals, the fanatic religious right, militant atheists and the living dead are never our own friends, never our own peers. Those foreign views are in a far distant place only known on CNN and Reddit. Our own friends and peers, whatever their views, somehow cease to have them in a real human dialogue. We fear questions, we fear discussion, we fear learning from each other. We must not fear this. We must understand each other. We must humanize other views, all of them, in order to be real educated people.
I have friends who believe I will rot in a burning hell for eternity with almost no regard to prevent it. If I were infected with some disease and a friend had the anecdote, they would give it. But when it comes to endless hell fire, they could hardly give a damn. That is the danger of our secularization. We fear discussion. We fear religion. We fear talking to one another. We fear imposition of values on each other. And it is nonsense. I have other friends who believe I am wasting my entire life when I could be having fun in the mundane with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And yet there is so little regard on their part to help me enjoy. There is so little regard for my entire life. Can they really be friends? Why can’t they encourage me to live that life? If they cared, they ought to.
Our fear of questions and discussion is a worrisome reality. I have the same problems, and it is despairing to know it. Our secularization has led us to a “live and let live” mentality that has consumed any real quest for understanding and knowledge. We have to think, critically, with wisdom and courage, about one another. We cannot be afraid of challenging each other and unsettling one another. I tell you, God is more important than friends. And life is important than friendship. And death (with what comes after), daresay, is more important than life.
We live in our own moronic tendencies where we are right, where we make the considerations, where we give our own thoughts and keep it to ourselves. We live in a secularization so far and deep that religion is nothing to be taken seriously, that worldviews are by default regular, that we have no existence outside of ourselves worth sharing. Our state of ignorance is saddening and infuriating, that we know more on Egyptian mythology than Hinduism and more on the Greeks than on real living Muslims. Where are our minds? Where are our consciouses? Where are our souls? We need to inquire about those who disagree in all fields of life, and we need to live that which we learn and share it. I
To those who are atheists, live it. Live it proudly and outspokenly and make it your existence. Share it with others always. We call the louder atheists pompous and inconsiderate, but we must understanding each other, and we cannot unless we share. But should they do this, should they share and be proud to the world, they too must listen to others, and they must try to understand others. A good majority of the arguments most militants of today make are utterly idiotic, and its frightening to know that people I know buy into it and have no interest in hearing why I don’t. I have a responsibility in my life to change that, and they have a responsibility to listen. Likewise, they have a responsibility to make the arguments they make and be open about it. Of course, for the relativists among them they have no such thing, but that’s a whole other story.
For the same reason, those with firm with religious conviction must share why they have it. For me, I am often more baffled by these people more than with the “skeptical” “rational” “freethinkers”, and it can be so difficult for many to explain. I once had a very lengthy conversation with someone on the origins of Islam, and I referred to a Christian scholar who converted to Islam. He interrupted me then and explained how many people leave their faith after studying it. He seemed to have no curiosity or interest as to why, him the freethinking Christian. He is a die hard Christian yet, with no curiosity to why others aren’t.
We must think critically about our situation. We must try to understand each other and ask one another what we believe and why. We must not refrain from dangerous territory – lest we dehumanize dissent. It is a scary reality where we lose our ability to think of others besides ourselves, where our egos are the only things that think with no space for anyone else. For those reading, next time you meet anyone else who disagrees with you on the most fundamental questions, just ask. Just ask about their views and opinions, and see what you hear. You might learn something. You might change your views. You might understand better. And ask incrementally, consistently, constantly, in the very tradition of skepticism. And do it always: make it your lifestyle. We have to understand each other, if we want to live fully. Just ask.