Human beings are incredibly complex. We’re capable of such tremendous intellectual leaps while simultaneously promulgating ignorance. We are capable of such awesome beauty yet perpetrate unbelievably heinous acts. We are both ends of every polarizing concept, living in color and judging by shades of gray.
I watched a mother and daughter go separate ways because one believed the world is only 5000 years old and the other believed the world is millions of years old. The religious view belonged to the daughter, the secular view to the mother. They each were completely intolerant of the other’s perspective. ”I want my children raised in the truth of the bible,” screamed the daughter, “I don’t need Mrs. National Geographic teaching them the lies of science!”
“I don’t want my grandchildren growing up to be ignorant.” sighed the mother.
“So, you’re saying I’m ignorant?”
“No, I’m saying you’re stupid. Ignorant means you don’t know any better, but you do. I know you do. I raised you.”
“You raised me on lies! It says so in the bible!”
I’ve learned it’s most unwise to involve yourself in a family argument and so I remained uncomfortably silent. But I thought what a conundrum it was that religion, which advocates tolerance, respect, peace, charity, understanding and love, could be at the root of such vehement disagreement. Of course, religious fervor is responsible for more human deaths than any other cause except old age, and sits at the root of the greatest threat of our time, terrorism. Even if the fight is not one of religious belief, it’s a sure thing that both sides believe that god is with them as they go off to do battle. I also thought about the ten commandments and tried to reconcile “honor thy father and mother” with the name calling and obvious disrespect being wielded by the daughter. I wondered about the Golden Rule, which the mother claimed as her credo, and whether she’d like to be called some of the names she was slinging.
There’s no moral to the story here. I tell it solely to make the point that we humans are walking contradictions. We are living conundrums that add to the questions of the meaning of life and why it is that things happen.