I believe the less I believe the better. When I was a kid, like everyone, in my own Ohio small town, I believed the world could and would end at any time; I hoped it would happen before I became a high school freshman – I wasn’t ready to grow up. I didn’t think it would be a nuclear holocaust or from a stray comet’s collision with the Earth, or even from an environmental calamity. No, I thought Jesus would sweep us up in the Rapture and the times of tribulation would begin. None of this happened, of course, and I went to high school. And for the most part that experience was fine and unremarkable.
Later, in my early twenties I decided to explore Buddhism, but found I couldn’t view the world as illusion, and I couldn’t convince myself that desire was at the root of all suffering. When I told my mom I believed in reincarnation, she was offended. “Where was I? You are my son.” I didn’t bring it up again.
Existentialism stuck for a while – and probably still lingers – in my thoughts. I found wrestling with doubt and anxiety in the face of mortality oddly comforting, as if someone had finally admitted the awful truth at the heart of everything – none of it makes sense.
But it was later when I truly began to see injustice in the world that I started thinking about belief in general. I protested the KKK in Coshocton. I marched in Washington for gay rights because I am gay. The profusion of anti-gay marriage amendments really got me to thinking. I joined the ACLU because I felt my America had slid too far to the right, and I was scared. It’s not that I have a lot beliefs, but that so many people have so much belief. I want to protect myself against that. I want to stay curious, because nothing is absolute. I want to see the world I live in, clearly, for this brief little time that I can. I don’t know what the future holds, if there is an afterlife, if humanity will survive, but I do know we are all here together and that is truly miraculous, and we should all take advantage of that strange occurrence and believe less, but know more.
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