May 02, 2005

Religion: A Tragedy

Working on my RD today, a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses came to the door and asked for a few minutes of my time. I'm polite when someone comes to my house, and I rarely turn down proseletizers because religion interests me.

So we had a talk about the existence of God and (of course) the coming of the New Kingdom (a big part of their faith - the Kingdom will be here on Earth) and of all the scads of prophecies coming true in this day and age. So I mentioned the splits that their church has had, the inanity of living in the New Kingdom, and the number of times prophecies failed to predict the end of the world (every time so far). This includes their own, as they used to know when the world would end. As that date came and went (1914, 1925, and 1975 mostly, but lots of others too) they changed their minds and decided it was going to happen 6000 years after Eves creation. Good choice, since no one seems to know when that was, though many thought 1994 was going to be the end (again).

Side note: todays Rapture Index is at 149, down from this years high of 155, and well off the 2001 record high of 182. Anything over 145 is labelled "Fasten your seat belts!"

And all in all, it was a rather pleasant half hour spend lightly deriding each others views. Then the man pionted to one of my bikes and said:

"When I have all that time? I'm going to learn about these." Now, he was about fifty-five or so, which brings to mind a lot of wasted years. There was simply nothing stopping him from learning how to ride (or repair) motorcycles. Even if you can't afford a course, and many can't, someone would be willing to show you how to ride if you asked them. He professed to be "too old to start now", which was odd as I was just debating with his wife about how much of our brain we used (she thought it was 10%, as the old myth says) and why we are capable of so much ore than we have time for.

There is no law, no rule stating that age limits your knowledge. Yes, it does get tougher to learn things when you get older (no one learns faster than they do as an infant), but this gives no justification for stopping your education because you're "too old". What stopped him from learning how to ride was simple: he thinks he's going to have as much time as he could ever use, just as soon as God shows up. So he doesn't think of himself as "wasting" his life by not learning all sorts of interesting stuff - missing out is no great loss.

It makes me wonder how many people lie on their deathbeds saying "I've always wanted to..." The sheer waste of it drives me nuts, but not as much as those folks who think little things like enviromental laws are of no use because the Rapture is a-coming (hello Ronald Reagan, you ignorant twat).

I'm afraid I wasn't so polite to another mid-fifties woman a short while back.

I was in a video store, and the kid behind the counter mentioned something about his coming graduation, and she said:

"Oh, you'll remember these as the best years of your life!"

What complete bullshit. Remember high school? How everything, no matter how trivial, was wrapped in life-changing drama? The emotional (and occasionally physical) trauma. And that's just for those folks who had to deal with it. I was never bullied at school, but lord knows I would never want to live through those powerless years again. I wanted responsibility for my own actions; I wanted the acceptance by the world as an adult. I wanted to drive my own car (well, you know what I mean), to drink legally, to VOTE!

It lit me up, and a bit of fire spilled onto her. How sad, how utterly pathetic does your life have to be that you have to go back forty years to remember it fondly? What kind of watse is your existence that there is nothing, nothing to equal zits and a reedy voice?

The sheer shallowness of my thought then as compared to now; the range and depth of the knowledge I've acquired; the things I've learned and the things I've done; the growing comfort with my self and my relation in the world; the loves I've gained, earned and kept; how much greater all these things are now!

It's the same phenomenon that aggrivates me with both of these people and others like them: she sheer magnitude of waste their lives have been, and how freely, if unwittingly, they show it. Is there a greater tragedy than tossed away opportunities? I can only think of one: willful ignorance.

And now, I think I'm going to go enjoy a beer.


posted by Thursday at 1:17 pm


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