This I Believe

tom - Medusa, New York
Entered on December 15, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: war
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This I believe

I am a 62 year old grandfather recently retired. As a young boy I was fascinated by photo histories of WWII and the holocaust I found at my local library. When our family purchased one of the first TV’s my father and I would regularly watch Victory at Sea, the film history of the naval battles of that war. I grew up believing that the United States was the light shining on the hill. That lasted until my formative years spent as a graduate student in Biochemistry at Cornell University during the Vietnam War. Dan and Phil Berrigan were my heroes. I was raised a Catholic and during these years I was a firm believer in CK Chesterton’s wisdom that it was not that Christianity had been tried and found wanting but that it was found difficult and left untried. I spent years working for peace and social justice trying to be a true follower of Jesus.

I now believe that there is no personal God who hears our prayers and grants us grace. Jesus was a prophet and nothing more. He spoke the truth about man’s condition and paid the price for it. Everything we experience in life is all we will experience. I believe that mankind is a grievously flawed being driven by animal instinct to survive and perpetuate the species. Unfortunately, all of the major world religions have provide the rationale for us to follow those animal instincts and commit horrendous crimes.

As I approach my end time I am greatly saddened by the state of the world my generation has left. We in the United States allow our government to directly or indirectly contribute to the suffering and slaughter of civilians around the world so that we can unconsciously consume most of the world’s resources.

As a trained scientist I have looked desperately for convincing evidence that we are somehow better than the apes. We have reached a level not achieved by any other animal but our vestigial genetic heritage seems to be leading us down the path to extinction. Perhaps the apes are superior to us? As I try to make sense of humanity I have come to believe that our drive to survive takes two forms. Most of us seek domination as security for survival. In its worst form it looks like Iraq, Palestine, and Darfur. What gives me hope is that a minority of us see survival coming from cooperation and mutual respect. My hope is that eventually the dominators will learn the lesson that competition and war is never the answer. I will know we are making progress when our politicians no longer describe us as the greatest nation on earth as if we are somehow morally superior and blessed above others.