The greatest act of violence

For me, the greatest act of violence that any man can ever commit on this planet earth, is to declare, I am a Christian, or I am a Muslim or I am an atheist, or whatever they say they are, and really believe it. That hurts me so much. It immediately makes everyone who is not, a Christian, for example, someone other than them. They are not part of their tribe, their people, they are people who fall outside of their circle of love and protection. This then makes it easy to bring harm to these other beings, because that harm doesn’t effect them. But if someone in their tribe were harmed, by somebody outside of the tribe, they feel that hurt. They will come out and fight for them. They will even kill this other person, who is not in their tribe, if necessary. It also means that they can harm and kill people within their tribe, if they don’t follow the rules of their tribe. If every man loves his fellow man as he loves himself, he would hurt if any one of his brothers were hurt, because it would be like he was hurting. In times of tragedy, such as the bomb attack or whatever it was in Paris in 2015, people quickly forgot their idea of who they were and they pulled together to support each other, to support their fellow brothers and sisters. They brought humanity down to a single point, to the fact that we all have life, we are all people and regardless of how we chose to live our lives, we are all humans and they decided we’ll stand together, regardless of our differences. Meet up groups came about after the event in New York. It seems that when something big happens, people lose their bigness and their differences and embrace their sameness. What is this sameness and why is it only embraced when some big tragedy happens? What makes people want to separate themselves from others in the first place? Why do they think they have to tolerate others? What makes them think that they are any different from them? Sure we’ve all got our likes and dislikes, our preferences, the things we are drawn to and things that repel us. So that makes us all the same doesn’t it? If we all liked the same things, if we all were good at the same things, wanted the same things etc, wouldn’t we be more like robots? Can’t we all just like what we want and if we find someone who is disagreeable to us, simply avoid them? Or if we find something we don’t enjoy doing which has little to no value to us, simply just not do it? We’ve all taken on, to some degree, the values and beliefs of those around us. Some keep those values and beliefs, without question, all of their lives. This is good. This is how we build the traditions and practices that we all love. Some decide to question the beliefs and values and some will keep them or reject them, or maybe they’ll chop and change between the two all of their lives. Never gaining any solid ground.

What is it that we all have, that is unchanging, for the duration of our lives, that is solid and reliable and therefore trustworthy? It is life. We all have life, if we are alive on this planet; we have life, that much is evident. It’s the thing that connects all of us. As we come into this world, we start to learn and name and shape this thing we call life, into specific things we can all recognise. This is good. It allows for the building of a form of communication that we can all use to communicate with each other. We start to attach meaning to things. Such as this human who gave birth to me in this human form is my mother and we give meaning to that. It’s an important role, we should love our mothers, look up to them, do what they tell us to do. This becomes a fixed idea that most people never think about let alone question and explore. And if they find that they’re unfortunate enough to get a mother who they don’t even like, who they don’t want to follow, then they can struggle with having love for them. They know they must love their mother. Everybody knows that. Therefore, if they feel hate towards her, because she’s just beaten them, they must naturally conclude that they are bad. Then they can see that of course it stands to reason that they’re bad. Their mother, this most holy of creatures, wouldn’t hit them if they weren’t bad, because mothers are good, so yes, definitely, they must be bad. Traditions, shared understandings, differences etc, are all well and good, so long as each person knows, that underneath all these meanings and labels and words that we attach to people and things, is life and these words and labels and meanings are simply tools to help us communicate with each other. They are not there to separate but rather to unite us. If none of us had a way of communicating with each other, the human race would not advance and life seeks always to express itself. So we found a way to communicate, but that communication and the meanings we give to things, seem to have taken importance over who we are, over what it was intended for. It was intended to bring us together but instead it separates us. Until there’s a big enough tragedy, that is. Is it a tragedy if it brings people back together? If it gets people looking out for each other, supporting each other, risking their own lives for each other and even giving their last penny to help each other. Dissolving instantly, the superficial differences people ordinarily cling onto to so fiercely, so aggressively, so violently. I wonder if it’s a tragedy at all? Of course for those who’s lives were lost, we can say it’s a tragedy but could it be said that it’s an even greater tragedy if we repeat it again, and again and again. We will never get the violence and the wars to stop through violence and wars. And we’ll never get them to stop by trying to get everyone to see eye to eye. That’s never going to happen and would we even really want that? But if everyone loved his fellow man as if he loved himself, the life force within him that connects him to every human being out there, there would be no reason to quarrel or fall out with anybody, not to the degree you would want to harm or take that person’s life. If you love your brothers as yourself, you know that if you steal from another, you are cheating yourself. If you hurt another, you are hurting yourself. And every act is proceeded by a thought therefore if you harm another you must first harm yourself, you have to first have a harmful thought. And who does that thought hurt the most? If I think harmful thoughts I am not free and happy to enjoy the moment, I am busy plotting and hurting and dragging my spirits down in preparation to do the same damage to some body else, with any luck. If we can inflict more hurt on the other person than we are experiencing (as the effect of our own thoughts) then we shall be declared victorious. We can revel in and feel proud that now they are hurting more than us, we are the winners. Is this what winning at life means? Who can hurt the most? Or who can gather unto him the most physical possessions including money and sometimes including power over people. If you can control more people does that make you the winner? I don’t know. I know people seem to like and fiercely protect the idea of conditional love as the highest attainment in life. They love to tell the world how much they love this person or that as if the highest award in life is to love fiercely but to love exclusively. The more exclusive the love the more valuable and important it is and often times, everyone else can go to hell. I know there’s deep value and comfort in human or conditional love and it has a way of expressing itself that universal love/life never could. It’s needed, it’s necessary, but it isn’t the meaning of life. I don’t think we were put on this earth to be separated. We are all individual expressions of the one life, we are not in competition with each other, we don’t have to kill each other for a better life, wouldn’t it just be easier to avoid someone you didn’t like rather than killing them? Maybe that’s just me, I know I’m weird, but I haven’t, so far, found any real sense in murder and fighting, rather I think that life should be a joyful adventure with all the twists and turns and ups and downs along the way. Millions of minds and lives all working towards the same goal, to simply enjoy a happy life. If we all enjoyed ourselves there would be no room to hurt somebody. When you’re involved in enjoying yourself, why would you suddenly stop, and think, let me just kill a few people then get back to my enjoyment? If somebody came along that you didn’t like, you’d just think I’m gonna avoid that fella, I don’t like him and can’t enjoy myself when I’m around him, so I’ll just avoid him because I like to enjoy myself. Why not keep it simple? Of course those with all the human power don’t want that. A long held tried and tested practice is to divide and conquer at all costs and use fear to weaken people so they’re easier to control. But they can’t control us without our consent. But we can give them that consent because the alternative might mean death. But what is a man who has no free will, no choice in life? Is he not just an animal, following orders? What is a man without choice? What makes a man different to a pig, for example, or a sheep? Is it not the power to chose? Must we only chose between certain options that some other mortal man has decided we can have? Does our soul belong to him? He will tell us what we can and cannot do. What does he have that we don’t? Human power. But there is a power far greater than that which man can summon up. His best chance (man made power) is to install fear in people, to divide, then conquer. Is this in line with our true nature? To live in fear of our fellow man? Does it feel good to live in fear. Does fear present opportunities and possibilities, beyond our imagination, or does love do that? Do you feel more energised and open and free when you are dancing with love or drowning in fear? Is fear our natural state or is it just a great tool to keep us from harm that somebody decided they could use to their advantage? The good news is, when you are at once connected to that infinite power within you, that thing called life, then you see love everywhere. You see behind the masks of fear or greed or what other thing has caught the attention of that person and married them so securely to it. Sometimes, you can even wash it away by loves presence alone. Love has the power to stop a quarrel instantly, if it is untainted, and the quarrellers have no idea of what just happened. They don’t need to. If you tell most people about the power of love, they just laugh, and tell you, love is no match for this great president or that great leader. How do they know? They never gave it a chance. It’s not an easy thing to try. It goes against the grain. Against what society teaches us. To love all people? Never. I’ve never heard anything so absurd, they’ll say. I would never love that man, he wears a pink shirt and besides, men can’t love men, it’s just not right. 

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  • Well... I'm an atheist, and I really believe it.  Actually, I should say that I'm a non-violent atheist.  At risk of upsetting many people, I can't help but think that religion does far more harm than good in the world - and has done for centuries.  If there is a God, then there is - but he certainly doesn't seem to be an all-loving, omnipotent God.  What I find most nauseating is when people say things like 'I thank God I survived cancer', or 'God was looking out for me that day in that horrendous car crash', or 'God was on my side when the earthquake struck.'  So, what about all the people who die of cancer, or are killed in crashes and earthquakes?   Is God simply ignoring them?  Doesn't God give a toss about them?  No, sorry - of course, I'm forgetting.  They're part of another plan He has, aren't they.  Because God has plans for all of us, and God gives and God takes away... depending on how he draws the numbers in his daily game of 'Who's going to live and who's going to die today?'

    Having said all of that - yes, there are plenty of good religious people on earth, who genuinely care about and want to help others.  And they do a lot of good work.  They do it, usually, 'in God's name.'  All I would ask is... why?  Why do it in God's name?  Why not simply do it because you want to do it?  Why do you need God behind you to get you to do good?  Hopefully, it's not got the ulterior motive of guaranteeing you a place in the kingdom of Heaven, because surely that's a selfish motive at heart.  'I'll be good, and I'll get into Heaven.'  Okay.  And why is it, too, that I always have to be especially respectful towards a religious person, and accept it when they disrespect me by saying 'It matters not if you don't believe in God, because He still exists anyway, and He still loves you', and not be disrespectful in return by saying 'It matters not if you do believe in God, because He doesn't exist anyway, so He can't possibly love you or anyone else.'  Why can't I be respected for having a non-believing belief system of my own?

    And having said all that... people can believe what they want to believe, as long as they don't harm anyone else, and as long as they don't come to me and tell me that I need to believe what they believe, too.  I'm not going to go banging on anyone's doors, trying to preach the word of atheism.  I'm just going to go my own way in life, cheerfully not believing in God, and just doing things to help others when I can - because I want to.  And every time I make a mistake, I'm not going to go running off to confession, and I'm not going to get down on my knees and pray for forgiveness.  I'm just going to accept that I'm a human being, and therefore I'm fallible, and I can't always do everything right, and sometimes I might tell a little white lie (usually to cover someone's back).  I'll just accept that, and vow to do better next time.

    In other words, I'm going to carry on being a non-violent atheist, cheerfully not believing and being non-violent, happily and non-violently helping others because I want to, and trying not to worry too much about what people think of me for my lack of faith.