- On Sunday, I wrote about the important conversations that we do not have with friends and family, and then wonder and worry about the missed opportunities after they are dead.
- Monday's theme was "love is wise, hatred is foolish."
- I followed those up with living a life through the filters of truth and conscience.
- And then I blogged about empathy and how to help fellow humans.
When I was a believer, and a sincere one at that, it occurred to me that religions set aside days and times to worship, but it was more than merely to pray to god. It was essentially to take a detour from the grinds of daily life in order to figure out if we are doing the right things and whether we needed any course corrections. The near miss with dog shit was merely a metaphor for one of those evaluations. If it turns out that we do have to adjust the path, or if we feel completely lost, then any religion suggests to the believer to pick up a holy book and to figure out a new path. If for whatever reason we are incapable, then the believers can always seek the guidance of the religious leaders. But, ultimately, the quest comes from within; a quest to find out whether one is doing alright.
Over the years of being an atheist, I find that I am all the more keen on making sure I establish for myself what it means to do the right thing and whether I am consistent with my own understanding of the right thing. And this time, I thought I might as well parallel the Christian believer's Easter Week and engage in that introspection. Especially because after a long time I was staying put at home for the break, instead of being on the road like I was the last two years.
It is tiring, draining, to always inquire into doing the right thing. And even more so when I knowingly do the wrong thing. But, life does not seem worth without such a constant examination. As the Nobel-winning Steven Weinberg put it,
Living without God isn’t easy. But its very difficulty offers one other consolation—that there is a certain honor, or perhaps just a grim satisfaction, in facing up to our condition without despair and without wishful thinking—with good humor, but without GodSatisfaction is an understatement. It is a rich life. And, yes, there is a certain honor in realizing that doing the right thing means simply for the here and the now and not because of a fear of the unknown. Doing the right thing not because of any calculations on maximizing the odds in the after-life.
As this essay pointed out a few years ago:
[There] are things one loses in giving up God, and they are not insignificant. Most importantly, you lose the guarantee of redemption. Suppose that you do something morally terrible, something for which you cannot make amends, something, perhaps, for which no human being could ever be expected to forgive you. I imagine that the promise made by many religions, that God will forgive you if you are truly sorry, is a thought would that bring enormous comfort and relief. You cannot have that if you are an atheist. In consequence, you must live your life, and make your choices with the knowledge that every choice you make contributes, in one way or another, to the only value your life can have.To be one's own prosecutor, jury, and judge, without any possibility of a presidential pardon, well, there is no other way to live life.
"May peace be with you!", is a way to wrap up this post consistent with the Holy Week approach. Or, as in the religion in which I was raised, "Sarve Jana sukino Bhavantu!" (let the world's people be happy!)