I write this from New Jersey, USA, where we’ve been under a state of emergency since March 6th due to the covid-19 pandemic. I would have thought that being mostly stuck in the house would have given me more time to accomplish things: such as teaching myself the ukulele, composing music, or writing more articles for this blog. However, for reasons I won’t go into here, I spend most of my time taking care of my autistic son—being his tutor at home, making sure he is fed, happy, entertained, etc. And there are lots of times when I feel overwhelmed by his needs, the needs of my “family” both in person and through social media, the destruction of my sleeping cycle into 1-2hr naps, the time-consuming restrictions, and limitations on shopping that have me running to stand on line at 6:30 AM at the local supermarket so I can get my major supplies for the week, or serving as “technical support” to keep people’s computers and Internet running during this crisis. So, much of the time I feel exhausted just want to crash.
I’m telling you this here, not to complain, or make myself seem like a martyr. Because, let’s get to the root of why I, and millions like me, do these things. Why do doctors, nurses, social workers, policemen and all the “essential” workers who have the reality of the sick and dying of this disease shoved into their faces every day to the point of their own burnout and despair manage to get up the next day and do it again? Survival and government aside, why do we do this day and day with no particular end date in sight? The cynic would say “because you have to.” But that’s not it.
We do it out of love. We get up every morning and face this grind because of love. Because these lives that are intertwined with our own have meaning and worth to us. Because we see ourselves reflected back through them. When I see my son smile at me, it’s like the face of God looking at me.
Catastrophe brings out the worst and the best of our human nature. There are some who believe that we are just selfish animals, fighting for survival and the other be damned. These are the sort of people who believe that their “rights” are more important than others and their wants and “needs” are sacrosanct. They would place themselves at the top of humanity—and if others are made ill or die as a result, well so be it. As I write this, there are people being killed over whether a store has the right to enforce the wearing of a face mask. There are people screaming that restrictions should be lifted because they want to get their hair dyed, or they are missing their Botox shot—and if others are made ill because of that, that’s just too bad. Let us say that they succeed in recreating a world in their image. What kind of a world is that? Is that the mad existence that defines humanity? Are we really no better than dung beetles fighting over a bit of feces?
But there is something greater in each of us: our sense of altruism and self-sacrifice. We make the choice minute by minute, second by second, to define who and what we are. We do it because we see the spirit of God in each of us. This is what the great spiritual leaders such as Jesus recognized: we carry God—whatever we ultimately conceive of God to be—within our hearts and spirits. When we look at each other pass politics, fear, and stereotyping, we see the face of God looking back.
God is not going to come down from the skies, wave His/Her/Its/? “arms” and save us from the virus. It didn’t happen during the Black Plague, it didn’t happen during the Spanish Flu, and it won’t happen now. We will. Together. Not pointing fingers at each other searching for who to blame. But together working to stop this, recognizing that each life is valuable and equally worthy of being lived.
 Just to be clear. I am not negating the fear and worry about the loss of income that so many are experiencing. This unprecedented destruction of our economies and the suffering of so many says more about the flimsy nature and evils of an economic system that ultimately treats people as means to an end, rather than an end in themselves. Perhaps after this crisis, we will finally begin to realize that this must change.
Man’s history on earth: 6,000,000 years. Well, 200,000 if you only count modern man. 6.000 if you take the Bible literally. No matter. In the recorded histories of man, there are cycles of peace, and cycles of wars, stories of great sacrifice, and stories of the most outrageous horrors perpetrated by man against man. “Celestial” grace against earthly destruction. Religions, mighty in their power over people, and those long forgotten, trying to make sense of the human condition—to rectify the urge for domination with the urge for justice and “holiness”. Angel vs. Devil.
I’ve always questioned myself (and sometimes asked others as well); “Which side are you on? That of the angels, or that of the devils.” And I don’t mean that literarily (I’ll leave a discussion of whether angels and devils are actually real for another time). But what I am asking is “Is your basic makeup to do good in the world, or to do evil? To leave the world a better place for your having existed, or to make the most out of your opportunities to satisfy your own needs and wants regardless of their impact on others?”
At the end of my novel “I’m God and You’re Not” (PLUG: available on Amazon e-book, as well as soft or hardcover at Amazon and through major book retailers worldwide), God concludes that, despite the “devilish” acts that seem to full our history and our daily news, it is the striving for good, the unselfish acts of humanity, that redeems us, and makes Him love us.
In moments of despair, we need to remind ourselves that the majority of people in the world strive for the good and reject evil. But, perhaps, we just aren’t clear what we mean by each. Knowing that followers of Ann Rand will object, I will hold that to be an angel is to promote that which leaves the world better and increases understanding and acceptance among people, and to be a devil is to promote that which divides and separates us from one another.
Some peruse the pages of their holy books, selectively pulling tidbits to support their “holier than thou” attitude which allows them to put themselves in cult of the selected few geared to future rewards in some next life or in Heaven at the side of God—and to condemn the vast majority who do not share their beliefs to damnation. They imagine the worst tortures and find them justifiable merely because of a difference of belief, taking a perverse glee in contemplating the screams of the “damned”. Some would even condemn innocent babies to a Hell merely because someone did not sprinkle some water on them or made the necessary holy signs, or neglected to perform a rite of circumcision or otherwise mark them as chosen or unique? Is that idea, of itself, not evil? Meanwhile, they carefully ignore other tidbits that would condemn themselves. And they call themselves the “good.” Others, in turn, may see these self-elected ones as increasing evil in the world.
“I’m God and You’re Not” is full of sections where God Himself points out this basic hypocrisy.
The very nature of Good and Evil would be so easily defined in an ideal world.
But our world is far from ideal, and there are areas where what constitutes evil and what constitutes good can be debated. Abortion is just one area where differences of opinion seem to condemn each side to eternal damnation. Each side sees its position as the good, the other evil. But which one leads to the greater good? In an ideal world, would there even be a need for abortion?
We indulge in our own self-righteousness while mocking those who disagree with us. We go so far as to regard others as sub-human because they look different, they talk different, their culture is not ours, and see them as a threat where the vast majority only want to live in peace, dignity and hope just as we do. Regardless how you may feel about illegal immigration, how does the forceful separation of children and babies from their parents be anything but an increase in evil? Go on a social media site such as Facebook and you can be overwhelmed by the pure hate that gets expressed there—threats of civil war, wishes for the death of those who disagree with our position, a sickening spiral that springs forth the worst in us and demeans ourselves and corrupts the souls of our children, the future of our human race. How does this hate make us better? Blind hate can only bring us closer to the side of the Devils. It corrupts us. It takes us further away from the potential of greatness that is in each of us.
If we seek “the kingdom of God”—whatever we think that is, a literal coming of God’s kingdom lead by a Messiah (Jesus or otherwise), or a great awakening in the human spirit–and we can disagree about which it perhaps is—we need to stop!. We won’t bring that kingdom closer; we repel the very thing we want in our deepest part of our soul.
Ask a simple question: Will the future commend or condemn us?
I refuse to believe that there is anything but a very small minority of people who choose consciously to side with the Devils. If we look inside, our beliefs make us imperfect, we all have areas of contradiction and conflict. But these grey areas do not prevent us from trying to be on the side of one or the other, of the Angels or the Devils. None of us are perfectly one or the other—perhaps that is in the nature of being human. Our words and actions ripple around the world, touching each other in ways we cannot foresee across time. How does what I do invoke the best in you? And how does what you say inspire me to be a better person? Equally, could we not bring forth the monster that is buried deep inside by a careless word, a glance of contempt, the silence of indifference?
A normal lifespan is less than a century. What does that small period of time that you are here mean to you? When you have left this life behind, will they say of you that the world was made better (“may his/her memory be a blessing”) or more hopeless (“may his/her memory be blotted out”) as a result of such a life?
. Disclaimer: As a man, I have mixed feelings, and am not arguing one side over the other here because I surely don’t have an answer. Is the great evil the act of abortion? Is it ignoring the rights of women to control their own bodies? Is it holding that the potential life of the unborn is sacred yet ignoring the welfare of the child once born—failing to provide the means to give that child a future other than poverty, sickness, and despair? In an overpopulated world, is the act of given birth moral or immoral? And what to say to those that are against abortion or even birth control methods, but also say that if you can’t afford a child, you shouldn’t have them—absolving themselves of any social or human responsibility? Even the Bible does not solve the issue—in Numbers, even providing the priests for forcing an abortion due to adultery, and yet hear the commandment “Thou shalt not murder.” There are innumerable passages where God condones or even orders the murder of unborn children and pregnant women in towns conquered by the Hebrews and others supposedly serving as His agents. If the fetus is sacred, why does God allow miscarriages? Is God a hypocrite?
From Huffpost 11/27/2019
Judge’s Ruling Shows Religious Freedom Isn’t Just For The Christian Right
If I am kind, it’s because I know how the world can be so cruel
If I am compassionate, it is because I am only a man, and nothing human is alien to me
If I am loving, it is because the greatest gift one can give another is their sincere love
If I cry, it’s because the sadness in the world overwhelms me at times
If I rage, it is because I can envision how this world could be Paradise if not for human stupidity
If I dream, then it is because we need more dreamers
Do not take these things as weakness. They are my greatest strengths
I hate you!
I hate you because you are not like me!
I hate you because of the color of your skin!
I hate you because you don’t speak the same language as me!
I hate you because you don’t dress like me!
I hate you because you are LGTBQ!
I hate you because your politics are different than mine.
I hate you because you don’t live in my country.
I hate you because I live in the greatest country that ever was on Earth.
I hate you because you believe you live in the greatest country that ever was on Earth.
I hate you because you are smarter than me.
I hate you because I am smarter than you.
I hate you because your religion is different
I hate you because your Holy Books are different than mine.
I hate you because you pray differently than me
I hate you because you call God by another name
I hate you because you don’t believe in God.
I hate you because my religion is the one true religion and it says I should hate you. It says you are a blasphemer. It says you are going to Hell. Only the few who believe exactly as I do will go to Heaven.
I hate you because your religion tells you it is the one true religion and it says you should hate me. It says I am a blasphemer. It says I am going to Hell. Only the few who believe exactly as you do will go to Heaven.
I hate you because my God is a god of Love.
I hate you because you scare me
I hate you because I might not be good enough, I might not be strong enough, I might be lying to myself.
I hate you because your existence reminds me everyday that I could be wrong about everything.
I hate you because you are the witness that there are alternatives to the world I have built around myself to keep me warm, protected, and secure; and if I were to accept that these alternatives are valid, my world would crack and crash down around me. And then, who am I?
I hate you for the things I hate in myself and am afraid to acknowledge
I hate you because I shouldn’t hate you
I hate you because you hate me
I hate you because I don’t understand why you hate me
I hate you because I’ve been taught you are the reason for all the suffering in the world
I hate you because you were taught that I am the reason for all the suffering in the world
I hate you because for all my life the powers that be have taught me that you are my enemy in order to divert me from realizing that my enemy is the powers that be.
I hate you because without that hate I am nothing!
In honor of nothing in particular, during the week of Jan 21-25, 2019, the eBook edition of “‘m God and You’re Not” will be free on Amazon (US only) Spread the word and leave a review if you enjoy the book.
Looking for the perfect non-holiday gift? The e-book edition of “I’m God and You’re Not” is on sale on Amazon at special low prices during the first week of December :
Dec 1- 3 : $0.99
Dec 4-5 : $1.99
Dec 6–8 : $2.99
Get your copy here!