Friday, April 2, 2010
I have to start with a warning, because some things I say might be offensive. If you truly know us, it probably will come as no surprise. Also, if you are friends with us, this shouldn't change our friendship.
Walt and I are not religious. We are what you would call "non-believers". The reason is that we subscribe to the laws of science, and they are different from the beliefs of religion. Science relies on observation...and the steps of the Scientific Method. Religion relies on faith. It is impossible to be both scientific and religious...that would be like playing golf but using basketball rules.
However, we strive to live our lives seeking wisdom wherever it can be found. My dad was a very wise man. He showed me that religious texts and Star Trek plots have a lot to teach, but he thought organized religion was losing the message. My philosophy teacher at CSUSB told me that he had problems with a religion that would accept a murderer who asks forgiveness on his deathbed, but won't allow Ghandi into heaven because he wasn't Christian. These people have influenced my life, caused me to think, and to reach the conclusions that I have reached.
Why am I telling you this? Because I've recently encountered wisdom and compassion and wanted that to be the message of this blog:
1. We were invited to a baptism of a beautiful girl I know from school. She was baptised at the LDS ward. Her parents did not think we would come, because we don't believe, but we wanted to go to show our support for the family. Just because we are atheists doesn't mean we don't value family, traditions, and other people's celebrations. So, it was an amazing hour filled with talks about the importance of family. That was wisdom! The family is the core unit that hopefully supports each of us unconditionally. I enjoyed being there for Amanda and sharing in what was important to her. Thanks, Amanda!
2. We went to LA to see the Dalai Lama for the second time. Each time I see him, or read his books, I am reminded that much about my lifestyle is damaging - the materialism, the hurried days, the lack of contact with others, etc. The Dalai Lama talks about compassion...not just feeling sorry for others, but truly believing that we are all interconnected and that love and compassion for our fellow human beings are the most peaceful, productive choice...not war, not hatred.
He was speaking on behalf of a charity that goes around the world finding orphanages that have no color, no hugging, no support for the children. Can you imagine being all alone in the world and laying in your grey bed for 23 hours per day, looking at grey walls and only being touched once in a while when you get your grey dinner and perhaps a quick, cold bath? The group is teaching orphanage caretakers to hug, cuddle, sing, and bringing colors into the orphanage so kids now eat from a pink cereal bowl, looking at colorful wall decorations, playing with bright toys and puzzles. They said these kids often arrive with no names...and if no one knows your name, who will you become?
With or without religion, we all have the same desire - we want a happy day, a happy life. We all want a good night's sleep and inner peace.
The Dalai Lama talked about the importance of motherhood - your dad doesn't have to be present, but your mom is at your birth. In those first few minutes, if your mother wraps you and holds you and feeds you, you immediately start to have feelings of attachment and affection for others. If your mom does not do that, you have instant feelings of abandonment. Without attachment, a person can easily speak harsh words, squash a bug, hurt a dog, or kill a human. Compassion, initially taught by moms around the world, means that we know our survival depends on the care we give ALL others, animals or humans.
So, I will stop the lecture for now, although I reserve the right to talk about wisdom when and where I find it...a church, my dad's memory, a religious or political figure. Being atheists does not mean we are bad, or backsliding, or anything else. It means we are looking for evidence. Walt and I are always looking. Just keep this thought in mind, offered by a simple Tibetan monk...Have You Been Kind Today?
Thanks for listening.