This blog was supposed to be just about “fun stuff” y’know? Biking, baking, braiding and beading like it says on the front end. It wasn’t going to be political, or religious or sexual.
But then Paris happened. And Beirut. And Baghdad. And I felt I had to get some thoughts out there. Remember these are thoughts, they are my thoughts, I don’t expect them to be your thoughts. They may well be quite confused thoughts too…
I should start by saying I am not a Christian, or a Muslim, or Jewish, or indeed any of the major world religions. I was brought up in a strongly Christian household, thankfully by parents who taught us how to think and make our decisions. If you really want a label then I’m an Eclectic Humano-Pagan Atheo-Agnostic Witch. I believe we live and learn by living, learning and listening, to each other and to the world around us. I don’t follow any Book or Dogma (not strictly true – see end of this post to see my favourite Words*) I don’t know whether I do Right or do Wrong, but I try to do what I have to do to fill my place in the World.
I’ve met good Christians and bad ones and I’m extrapolating from that that there are good Muslims and bad ones, good Jews and bad ones, good Sikhs and bad ones etc. because we are all human we are good and bad together.
However as an EHPAAW I differ from all of these religionists in one big way. Whatever I do, and whatever consequences occur, it is all on me. My choice, my responsibility, I have to live with it. There is no God telling me to kill in His name, no God telling me who to hate, not even a Devil “telling me to do it”. What a luxury to be able to hide behind such impressive beings? One can live as a child behind its mother’s skirts, never feeling the consequences of one’s actions, because of course, they are not truly one’s actions.
All the Holy Books contain much that is good, but they also contain much that is confusing, ambiguous and occasionally downright wicked. The Faithful are told to show mercy, be kind, be joyful, they are also told to kill, to destroy, be vengeful, particularly to unbelievers – sometimes in the same verse… We have free will to interpret these verses as we will but it’s a sad thing that “cherry-picking” so often leads to humans choosing to use only the vengeful words rather than the merciful words. All the Holy Books can be used to justify anything humans can contemplate, from St. Francis of Assisi to Fred Phelps, from the gentlest Sufi to Jihadi John, and indeed they are, every day.
And it always struck me as divinely coincidental how often God’s Will chimes so perfectly with what people want to do. How often do you find someone choosing to follow Matthew ch.19 v.21: “ Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me”. I mean, that would just be silly, you’re taking it out of context and you have to remember this was written in a very different time when values were different and what Jesus really meant was…
What I’m working my way round to saying is that people should stop hiding behind ancient Words that may or may not have been inspired by a Deity, because either those words have been so hopelessly lost in translation that they have no bearing on humanity, or the Deities involved were psychotically insane and deserve to be shunned. If you must cherry-pick the verses, choose to cherry-pick the humane, kind, joyful, inspirational ones.
You are the light of the world, shine brightly, do not allow anyone, God or Mankind, to dim your flame.
It is better to light a candle than to scream in the darkness
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
© Max Ehrmann 1927