A friend and I discussed how he was frustrated by the fact that so many find solace in Vonnegut, but that Vonnegut offers a recapitulation of the words of Jesus Christ, and that recognizing and accepting Jesus offers more than does recognizing Vonnegut. His argument presupposes a belief in a god however, implied when he added that Jesus offered so much more; the "more" being miracles and a path to God. When I asked about how he would explain atheism he answered that it was essentially pride, that atheists are too proud to humble themselves to God and follow him. Again, this explanation reaffirms his own belief and really doesn't quite reach what I was trying to get at.
To rephrase, how do you explain different and opposing realities or truths? We're not so different he and I, we're both not fans of religion, both heed a call for basic good, both liberals (however one wishes to construe such an identity), both having found our place in the world. How then does he reconcile that I don't believe in a god? (Without saying that I am wrong.) Essentially, we both came to the same place, a place where we reflected on our life and the world and what we were taught. We then each chose two completely separate truths. Here's where I am: My truth accepts all truths, I see millions upon millions of different truths, each equally as valid as the next. Who am I to say one's truth is false, or that it really fits into other truths? This is not say that there are no truths. My truth recognizes the fact that there is no one single answer, each person's answer to life is unique to them, even if it falls under the realm of Christianity, Islam, Humanism, Atheism. I know that my answer isn't everyone's answer, but, as everyone does, I think that my answer is the most logical.
So, to make my point in a different way I ask myself the same question. How do I explain theism? Belief in God is an individual's reckoning of the world they live in, the things they've been taught and an inward search. They find that there is a higher power that has put us here, that we have fallen out with it, but that we are striving to reach again in an eternity. How do I explain atheism? Atheism is an individuals reckoning of the world they live in, the things they've been taught and inward searching. They find that science explains the world in predictable ways and that the world can only be reasonably understood by what can be observed. How do I explain Humanism? Humanism is an individual's reckoning of the world they live in, the things they've been taught and inward reflection. They find that, despite all the seemingly endless and irreconcilable contradictions, that all people on this planet share the human condition; respect of the human condition as it exists in the material world frames how they act. By reconciling different beliefs and ideas in their own terms, instead of my own, I create a world view that accepts multiple real truths all creations of individuals in unique time and space. This doesn't make my ideas or anyone else's more or less valid, but simply recognizes them as they are. (I cannot possibly get inside my friend's head, nor he in mine, and because of this neither of us can alter the other's truth.)
I don't think that Jesus or Vonnegut are the ultimate truths, that one or the other is better to find solace in, both only share their message on their own terms. Jesus believed in God the Father (a reflection of his own personal experience as being the son of God), Vonnegut was cynical of religion and the wars that he perceived to go along with it (a reflection of his horrifying experience in World War II). I identify more with Vonnegut then because we share the same cynicism. However, I reckon a truth on my own terms, that while influenced by Vonnegut, certainly does not take an identical form.
I think that recognizing other truths and beliefs is not so much a specific path that runs in opposition to other paths. It's not an absolute ideology, but rather more of a courtesy within or complement to an existing ideology. I think that by doing this we can find beauty in our own truths as well as others'. I hope that he, my friend, need not be frustrated with Vonnegut, and that this frustration, no matter how profound, would keep him from reading his words. Indeed, some things are easy to learn, some things are fun, others force us to continually be critical and thoughtful and are terribly frustrating and difficult; even exhausting. Nevertheless we should never deny ourselves knowledge and experience, for this is the only way we can know better who we are.
5 weeks ago