Saturday, January 2, 2005: early evening: in bed
I am fully cognizant of the utter absurdity and futility of beginning yet another (handwritten) journal, and yet I feel compelled to do so.
This is a waste of paper in many ways. I’m sure I won’t keep it up—for one thing, my arthritic thumb is throbbing after only these few words. (Switched to a thicker pen; less pain.)
This is not the point though. The point is that I am coming to realize some really important things about The Game, and I think I am being prevented from expressing them. I become distracted or forgetful, or overcome with weariness whenever I get close to composing a coherent presentation of what I’ve discovered so far. There’s an account of this sort of malady in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, where it is the work of an evil faery.
And that’s exactly why I can't get started. Some mysterious force is preventing me from writing down my thoughts? I would seriously doubt the author’s sanity, reading what I have just written. For the record, I don’t hear voices and I’m not channeling anyone, as far as I know.
Last week saw the horrific Asian tsunami which killed over 120,000 people. The philosophy community bloggers are demanding to know how anyone can still profess to believe in (a) God after such a tragedy. They’re not the only ones. The Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the worldwide Anglican church, admitted it begs the question of why we believe in God.
"Faced with the paralysing magnitude of a disaster like this, we naturally feel more deeply outraged, and also more deeply helpless," Rowan Williams, spiritual leader to the world's 70 million Anglicans, said.
That showed up on MyYahoo! homepage. Everywhere I detect signs of an upsurge of…not faith or belief, but a curiousity about faith and belief, perhaps? Signs that the conflict between science and religion is once more coming to the foreground of attention in the Western mind. (Could Mel Gibson have anything to do with this? God, I hope not!) The intellectual supremacy of secularism seems to be slipping, possibly because Boomers like me are becoming increasingly aware of their mortality. It’s time for something new to break through—a new paradigm that will unite science and spirituality (if not religion) in a cohesive undertaking worthy of dedication and devotion, or at least investigation. We need only one more scintilla of intrigue, one more fundamental and fascinating anomaly, to push us over the edge.
Now here's the truly bizarre bit: I think in some way I’m supposed to help with this, if I can ever get my act together…I stopped writing just then and started to nod off. This is hopeless! Have you ever read or seen something that you knew instinctively had life-altering implications, and then promptly forgotten all about it? That’s definitely one of the symptoms of the problem I'm having.
It’s really frustrating, trying, struggling to make this coherent while the myriad elements of the truth fade from consciousness as quickly as notes of music heard from afar. Maybe I should try to recount, in a step-wise fashion, how I ended up at this point? Promising, but of course my hand hurts too much to keep writing. KEEP WRITING. If not now, then keep coming back to it. Damn! I’ll start with how I decided there was no God…this is going to take some time.
I think I was a fairly normal kid, but then don’t we all? My parents were not religious and did not attend church. I believe they let me attend Sunday School because I expressed an interest in it, probably because the other kids in the neighbourhood went, and there was no one to play with on Sunday mornings.
I didn’t like it, right from the start. The Bible stories about Ruth and Moses weren’t bad, but the ones about Jesus sounded like fairy tales to me and I was annoyed that even the adult leaders took them so seriously...and made me feel stupid or ill-mannered for questioning them.
The Bible story "God" was by far the worst, though. I had a problem with authority figures even then. I’m okay if the person in charge has earned my respect, but I have yet to grant authority to anyone I felt was naïve enough to take the "God" stories at face value. I didn’t know the word atheist at that age, but that is what I was. When I learned the word, I was proud to embrace it as my own. (What rebel, eh?)
The inability to believe in God was only one of the aspects of my early life that seem to have arisen spontaneously without training, education, indoctrination, or precedent. The others are my attitudes toward sex and race.
As an adolescent I literally could not believe that anyone would be stupid enough to think that boys were better than girls, in any way. I gradually had to concede that boys appeared to be physically stronger and faster—but so what? It was inconceivable to me that the whole concept of better would be applied to which sex you happened to be. It wasn’t as if you got to choose. I think my mother felt this way too, but she was nonetheless occupying the role of a 1950s housewife and not able to argue from a position of any strength.
I think my attitude toward race is also something I was born with, rather than taught. It’s not something of which I am particularly proud. I have always divided the peoples of the world into only two categories: Black, and everyone else. And “Black” means Black African, only those who are racially Negroid, as far as I’m concerned. I adore Black African people. I find them universally beautiful. (I don’t have trouble with any other race, but I don’t instantly adore people on sight, unless they are Black African.) I realize this is every bit as much a prejudice as disliking or even hating a group based on race alone, and it hurts me to admit this bias because I don’t know why. It isn’t something I learned; it was just there, the first time I came face-to-face with a racially Negroid human being. In fact, my ideal of a perfect human being is Whoopi Goldberg—talented, honest, intelligent, committed, funny—and one of the most beautiful women on earth.
I encounter very few Black persons in my life. There is a limited population in Vancouver. One of my co-workers is a young mother of two, recently immigrated from England. I have to consciously stop myself from fussing and fawning over her, or from making remarks that refer to race at all, when I am in her company. It would be obvious that I view her as “apart” from our other co-workers, would seem condescending somehow, and I would understand if that made her furious.
…I think that’s all I can do for tonight, but I must come back to this; it is crucial and urgent, although I’m sure that’s not obvious yet…LOL!