Sunday, October 12, 2008

Spiritual Warfare

It is called warfare. And in this battle, there are only two sides. Simple categories delineated by minds that refuse to go beyond the shallow pools of right and wrong… they choose to ignore the multicolored rainbow that colors our landscape and instead, focus on black and white. The complex world in which we live is broken down to its most base, and in this realm of right and wrong and good and evil, without room for the complex variance that speckles the human existence, they dwell and feast and grow angry. I can see the thick invisible circle they have drawn around themselves. Their confidence vibrates with tiny red beads and their temples pulse with fear and blood. With their tinted eyes and the solid rock in their chest they call "truth," they wish for but a simple moment. Just a couple of minutes to reveal our errors and their Truth.
But no one can really KNOW. Truth is subjective, the very nature of it is porous. As slick as water through fingers, it slips and morphs within time. I once asked my mother about god. When I was a little girl, I asked how children decide their religions. It was a one line answer and she looked at their daughter, who barely reached her hip and said children usually become the same religion as their parents. And so it is assumed, what my mother believes, I will believe. Whatever faith my parents have clung to, I will cling to. I am from the chosen people. We value education, we were slaves in Egypt, we did not kill Jesus. We marry people like us, we raise out children to go to temple and eat challah bread and go to college and marry other jews. We did not kill jesus, even though they will throw stones at us and say we did.
Perhaps this passes as truth for some, but among the billions of people who also cling to their beliefs, who hold on just as strong to their Truth, no one can really be certain. They can kill people or convert them, they can subject a population to religious laws, but only a blind faith in their rightness is certain
I can surround myself with others who share my views, people who think like me and believe in god the same way, we can compound our ideas and inflate our egos. We can sing songs together and talk of the coming Armageddon, but objectively, we are a group of humans that have chosen to believe in the same set of assumptions and interpretations from a very old book. For thousands of years, there have been other groups of people that have done the same thing, most have felt they had truth on their side. People believed in the formation of the earth from the mouth of a slithering Anaconda. There are people who believe in a blue-skinned god with many arms. The minds of humans are warped and beautiful, and there is no shortage of religious variance. So how can one person claim the Truth? Out of all the myths and stories that dot our history, how can one group claim dominance? Most people claim the truth and all of them are wrong. It is an egotistical assumption. It is faith. While the outlets of this human trait are very obvious when talking of religion, we all have this tendency. I lived with a man who thought he had formulated the best way to wash dishes. In his opinion, it was the fastest, most efficient way which produced the cleanest results. Any attempt to change the washing technique by other housemates was met with a brutal argument. He believed his method was right, therefore, everyone else was stupid and wrong. Why didn’t we just do what he said? But there are many ways to reach clean dishes, if that is the ultimate goal. What bothered him was that people would choose a different way, despite the knowledge of his perfected technique. Religious fundamentalists cling to the unchangeable idea that they have found the perfected truth…theirs is the only way to understand god and the universe. In their teachings, it is their way, or the one road down to hell, where a cruel demon waits to deliver their deserved punishment.
This is what I must understand. I do not know what is real. I do not know truth. There are many ways towards an open eye.

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