Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Who Cares? When You Do.

A Brief Note on False Consolations, Better Worlds, and Santa's Proper Job
I'm grading undergraduate papers today and must finish them---there are plenty left in this pile. I read every word because it's my job. I am a creature of duty. How quaint, eh? I was also glancing into Hitchens who I admire so deeply that I don't feel any need to agree even when I agree. He's that good at _his_ job. The quotation at the bottom of this little tirade will get me through today.

I will be more compassionate and understanding than their poor writing warrants reminding me that we make whatever goodness there is in this world. They are learning something writing these papers---well, hopefully---and I am revisiting old lessons about life. A better world is a made world, an invented world, a world that is created and we alone are its creators. We flawed, imperfect, confused, mixed up humans. So much the better.

One of the better ideas promulgated by some few Hindus---at least insofar as such a thing can be said at all---is that there really is room for those of us, who like Hitchens says, detest religion for saying things that are not only false consolations but become testimonies of human vanity, being both false and inexcusable.

I've long gotten past the idea that people---in fact, many people---need these kinds of "consolations," just to claim some thing is "divine" or that we are human for them. People will say almost anything to get by, through, and into feeling better about a world that on its own terms promises nothing and delivers without any of our pleadings in mind.  We make our nests; we live in them.

For the record, there is nothing, not.one.thing. in Rajanaka that Appa ever taught me (or that I have said over these many years) to suggest that the world has us somehow in its care or cares about us. She mothers us by providing, not by caring. WE must do the caring of each other and that seems to be much more to the point. That mother nature is blind, pitiless, and indifferent to everything and that we _might_ survive and flourish on _its_ terms is, in truth, the real comfort to me. It gives Momma a break that she doesn't need and it places the responsibility on us to make life worthy of living.

I don't want the universe or god or any damn thing else knowing or looking out or having a f'in plan, which of course it doesn't, can't and never has. Santa can kiss my ass too. Instead I want the burdens of care placed solely on us: we humans must decide to care, care and invite others to care. That doesn't make us divine anymore than it makes us human. (Plenty of humans don't act like they care whatsoever, thank you, Mr President.) But it does make it possible to be something that nature alone does not insist we be. That could be a "new" or better definition of "divine."

But on this point Hitchens nails it again:

I suppose that one reason I have always detested religion is its sly tendency to insinuate the idea that the universe is designed with "you" in mind or, even worse, that there is a divine plan into which one fits whether one knows it or not. This kind of modesty is too arrogant for me.
--Christopher Hitchens