The past 3 years have been exceptionally challenging for the world in general. On a personal level, I realized that I was quite lost. Professionally and spiritually, I was becoming disconnected. The spaces I was existing in constantly challenged my mental well-being. I was so angry and disappointed. Added to that, the world just seems to be falling apart. The ongoing pandemic and the resulting impacts it is having on the direction the world is going in has been truly eye-opening and distressing. The worst of so many people came out in the last 2+ years. The abject greed of corporations and individuals, who decided to capitalise on a catastrophe, has shown me things that I never wanted to see. I’ve always been very vocal about the dangers of the sort of capitalism being practiced and the ways in which it would eventually be detrimental to the majority of the world. Millions of people have died. Markets have been disrupted. Resources have been impacted. And instead of using it as a springboard to change the world for the better, a lot of people are simply using it as a way to enrich themselves more.
See, that’s the problem with capitalism. A system that allows 1% of people to accumulate 90%+ of all the wealth of the world, while 99% of us have to make do with the less than 10% that’s left, was always going to cause a catastrophe. There is no ethical way to amass that kind of wealth. It is founded on exploitation, environmental degradation and the overall marginalisation of the majority of the world population. As someone who believes that there are enough resources in the world for everyone to live comfortably and with dignity, I’ve spent a lot of time struggling to come to terms with the kind of selfishness and evil that allows some to pursue wealth at the cost of the well-being and even the lives of others. From slavery to capitalism, I have never been able to accept that it is OK to build wealth on the backs of the labour of people who cannot be safe and comfortable on the remuneration for the work and effort that they exchange to build that wealth for others. It makes no sense. There are numerous calculations about how monarchs and moguls could split their wealth among the populace and pay their employees a liveable wage and STILL have enough money to live comfortably for multiple generations. There is absolutely no need to manipulate systems and politics to pay people the barest minimum of wages.
As someone who has always believed in a higher power, a god, it wore away at my spirituality and my belief system because I could not reconcile the things I was seeing in the world with the loving Creator I believe in. So many of the people who do exploitative things call themselves Christians. From the evangelists with their multi-million dollar homes and private jets, who milk their congregations for money with the promise of prayers that might change their lives if they believe enough, to the corrupt politicians who claim to be the head of Christian nations, going to church every Sabbath/Sunday, holding prayer breakfasts, while every month there is a new scandal about public/taxpayer money being missing, mismanaged or misused. Watching greed, incompetence and corruption actively deteriorate the lives of populations has created a heaviness in my heart that I don’t know how to manage. It made me question a lot of the things I believe in. But, one thing remains certain – humans are the problem.
I often find myself challenging the beliefs of others. I don’t think of myself as an atheist. I believe in a higher power, a god, something that’s more than the sum of this existence. I also value critical thinking and deep interrogation of dogma as well. But I can also see where religion has been corrupted. For a long time now. From the oldest of religions to the most modern of beliefs, there has always been more division than unity. And so much bigotry and hate. I have never and will never understand the concept of killing someone because they don’t share your faith. Taking a life in the name of a god you claim to be loving, benevolent and forgiving just seems insane to me. Spreading hate for others, marginalising and ostracising them because of their race, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other factor, again, in the name of God, simply cannot make sense. My struggle to understand it even had me questioning the goodness of God.
Eventually, I realised that it’s people. Plain and simple. Short of taking away free will, sending another flood or new extinction level event or Thanos snapping a lot of us out of existence (all viable options, if you ask me; but then again, I’m not god-level benevolent and forgiving) there isn’t much God can do. Can we be forced to become good? I’m pretty sure that’s possible. Can we be forced to stay good for all eternity? Quite possibly. But that’s not the original covenant under which Earth was created… The concept of our existence being the Universe exploring itself, kinda makes sense. Create something with a particular format. Let it run and see what happens. Does it work? Can it function in this iteration? Maybe work out the bugs and use the resolutions to create something else, somewhere else and see if that works better. If this is what is happening, we are screwing things up pretty badly. We are little more than a cautionary tale at this point.
The fact of the matter is, we were given the tools to live very very well. In the absence of overuse, mismanagement and corruption, things actually work pretty well. All the shitty things happening in the world are caused by humans doing bad things. Pollution. Disasters. Climate Change. Endangered species. Species extinction. Hate. Bigotry. Discrimination. Poverty. All of those things can be avoided if humans simply did the right things and stopped being greedy, selfish bigots. There’s a song that says, “there’s nothing wrong with the world, it’s the people that’s in it”. It’s so true. Pre-Christianity, it seemed like religions were existing in cultural relevance. No-one was trying to force others to believe the same things. Hinduism had its share of Asia and Buddhism had its own. The Middle East had Judaism. Africa had its own spirituality, something that we’re not even sure of because it was forcibly and systematically stripped from us during slavery and the invasion and capture of the continent. Other civilizations had their mono- and polytheistic belief systems. Everyone was just living and letting. Then a council decided that they could take a religion that was based on the teachings of an objectively decent man and use it to amass wealth and political power. The Crusades. The War on Knowledge and the murders of the intellectuals and scholars. Rampant and wanton savagery in the name of ‘spreading the gospel’… Islam followed shortly behind and took up the practices of Christianity and added its own elements of forced belief, though largely within its own borders.
Centuries later, people are still being murdered in the name of gods. Religions are more divided than ever. The world is struggling around all the disunity and bigotry. And all we really need to do, is mind our own self. Instead of being concerned with what others are doing, we should be trying to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. Instead of watching and judging others, we should be examining our own behaviours and allowing others to live their own lives and face their own judgement and karma. Instead of being concerned with which god someone else believes in, we should be focusing on building and maintaining our own personal relationship with our deity. Instead of a preoccupation with adults engaging in consensual acts, we should be concerned with protecting and empowering the vulnerable, marginalised and powerless. Outside of laws of the land that protect populations from crimes against their person, we should be allowing people to live safely and with dignity.
I’m in a space where I’m being reminded of the peace and security that comes from a belief that I can turn to something bigger than me for help with navigating this world. For a long time, I struggled with the question of whether or not God is good. But that was never the real issue. The real issue is why do so many people choose to be bad? Because it’s a choice. We have every single thing we need on this planet for all of us to live in peace, comfort and dignity. But a specific set of people have decided that they don’t care about the harm they cause to others, as long as they get rich in the process. Every negative thing is manufactured. War. Poverty. Inequality and Inequity… What can I reasonably expect any god to do about that? Start killing people? What other sins/selfishness would I be OK with killing for? I actually don’t support the death penalty. I believe in rehabilitation and redirection. Maybe I’m a little delusional, but I believe that things can be better. We see where some countries have taken the time to restructure their socio-political realities. The results are undeniable. It is entirely possible for the powers that be to create laws to guide societies to peace, safety and security. We just need more people willing to do the right thing.
My own choice is a renewal of my faith and spirituality and to reclaim my personal and individual connection with my Creator. My life is simply better when I nurture that connection and give it the space and support that it needs to flourish. I accept my responsibility as a human being on this planet, to be a steward, to protect, preserve and replenish. We are at the brink of a total catastrophe. People are starving, desperate and dying in some places, while others indulge in excess and waste in other places. And somewhere in the mix, those with means are using it as an opportunity to get richer by contriving scarcity and hoarding resources. I have always made a personal commitment to help others in any way I can. That’s the only thing that makes sense for me. I hope more people try to do the same. Wherever this life takes me, I will always try not to lose sight of the very important relationship with that which is truly Divine and greater than me…