Saturday, July 09, 2011

Are you a man of faith Mr. Venkat?

I have been dealing with a few personal losses in recent months and to get some clearance and closure on them I decided to visit a guidance counselor. I poured out my story to her over hot chocolate and at the end of the story she asked me a single question, "Are you a person of faith?". I squirmed in my seat a little bit. I wanted to say 'It is complicated' but I requested a few days to think about it and get back to her with an answer.

By a number of social definitions, I am what one could call an atheist. But I am of the honest opinion that the word is very broad and poorly defines a whole spectrum of psyches that are not unified in their approach to concepts like god and faith. Atheism implicitly demands a point of conformism - that one should be opposed or should reject the existence of the religious convention of a superior power. So a true atheist would be a religious separatist that is now involved actively in the process of rejection and removal of this so-called deity. Unfortunately that fails to cover a whole set of others that do not respect that requirement either. Broadly they may be classified into two types of people - the anarchists that just want an escape from the rules and tediousness of these organizations and the confused souls who still have not found their calling with atheism; something is still wrong.

If you are a true atheist and you are reading this, I am glad that you have found inner peace despite the warlike exterior you have going for you. But that is probably not possible because that would involve a certain calmness that should prevent you from your oppositionist tendencies. I have not managed to understand that paradox and therefore I am not one of you. But I respect your discipline towards your goal and while it is no different from that of a religious zealot, hopefully you have something right going for you. It is the same thing I would say to the other guy.

The inherent problem that I have with accepting atheism is that it fails to be a bottoms up approach where one would start from a point where they do not identify with a god and build up from there. Instead what we have is a new religion of people who are no different from the ones you see everyday debating the morality of Microsoft Versus Apple Versus Linux or what have you. If you think that I have said something positive here, contact me and I will give you my guidance counselor's phone number.

On the ones that embrace a bottoms up approach and do not fight on the battlefield of who is more blind, the two above classifications apply.

I have a simple definition for the anarchists. Basically you do not let religion get in the way of your pursuit of happiness. While I understand the point, it leads me to wonder how your happiness still gets defined by a convention of materialism that conflicts with the very same non-conformism that you originally left religion for. Many people would call that shallow and I hope your current iPhone 4 and your future iPhone 5 help you deal with that very well.

These people occasionally manage to frustrate me with their shiftiness. I do not enjoy the moral recesses that they invoke to save themselves the embarrassment of their lack of botheration over the above conflict. While the pursuit of happiness is not a wrong thing at all, If happiness just involved getting the next better thing, you enter an endless loop of attempting to find greener pastures once you have polluted your own enough. You value nothing, you respect nothing, there is a lot of selfishness and very little else. There is a heavy duty expectation of conformism from the rest of the world; something that their imperfections would never let them measure up to. It does not make you right or wrong, it just makes you a jerk. While I would love to fall for this kind of an easy life, by your definition the happiest people in the world should be Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian and their million-dollar baby. If you think I was not being sarcastic there, call me and the number is yours.

As for the hapless ones that have still not found your calling, I guess I could be one of you. The question is, are you comfortable and happy with not having found it or is it still bothering you? If it is, then brother, there is no spoon. It is really all you. Love, peace and happiness are not in finally finding a system that defines you, the system is already in place. Content. That works. There will be people that will tell you that your are not aiming high enough but they are just jealous. Funnily enough, that kind of thought process would put you in the same category as a religious person in the truest sense of the world. Something like the Jim Carrey from Bruce Almightly. Does that really matter?

So after a few days of soul searching, I returned to my counselor and told her, "Yes I am a man of faith. I have faith in my family and friends. I have not seen or measured brotherhood but I have felt it and it gets me by. Someone held the door open for me today. Someone joined me for lunch. Not everyone needs to do it but someone did. At the end of my day, my dog loves me even if I dared to kick him for pleasure. I have good faith in that."

She responded, "You may leave, you have no need for me anymore. Good day."

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