Sunday, December 11, 2016

But What if They're Right?

I often ask myself that question about God. What if God really does exist, like so many people seem to believe. And then He or She decides to exact revenge on me in the afterlife for not believing in and praying daily to Him/Her? 

I comfort myself with the fact that I conduct my life in a manner that most religions would be okay with, certainly in a manner that any "Loving God" would be okay with. I can't suspend disbelief or cultivate divine faith long enough to accept the idea that there is a Man in the Sky with a plan for our every move and life's events. 

I know that lots of folks feel otherwise and I will never judge that. I'm not an aggressive atheist or offended by people who pray for my salvation, because as Billy Joel famously sang, "they may be right." 

But in answer to the question, "what if they're right?" I tell myself, well, if they're right, hopefully God will be happy with me, and if not, I guess I'll suffer the consequences.

This is sort of a corollary to how I feel about the "what if they're right" question as applied to the rise of fascism, autocracy, and white supremacy in America. What if I'm wrong that Trump is going to do Very Bad Things to our democracy, and "they" are right that really it won't be so bad. 

Except I come up with a slightly different answer, which is this:

I sincerely hope I'm wrong that we are on the cusp of a dark kleptocracy, the likes of which we've never seen in this country, because anyone who is alive today has always taken a quasi-functional democracy for granted. No one who was born and raised in America has lived under an autocracy, but I know people who have (in Eastern Europe, primarily) and it's not nice. And it can happen right under the noses of a complacent, often complicit public who one day wakes up to a very different government than they assumed they had.

I hope they're right that Trump and the murderers' row of a cabinet he has assembled will Make America Great again after all, rather than making it a lot less great for almost everyone, most notably the people who put him in office, and turning the country into his own personal piggy bank subject to the whims of foreign, quasi-fascist states.

I hope I'm wrong about all of that, and that they're right, and everything works out great. But what should I do in the meantime? I wouldn't gamble on the absence of a God by committing sin after sin, because I have a moral compass. The very same moral compass that compels me to ask and write ad nauseum about what we are going to do if they are wrong.

The only answer, I think, is simply to keep paying attention. I think the answer is both to read and think critically, and maybe to act like that character in a movie helping the other dude who's on the brink of death. The one who's trying to save the guy that's fading away and keeps yelling "DON'T GO TO SLEEP, STAY WITH ME!" I think they call this refusal to "normalize." I feel like our democracy is on life support and there are people who are in denial about that or who simply want to pull the plug. 

And then there are people, like me, who keep screaming and shaking the other guy's shoulders, telling him to wake up, pay attention, don't go to sleep. We can hope we're wrong, but we can't count on it. 

Those people--the screamers, the shakers--we can do this. We should do this. We don't have a choice.


  1. Since Donald J.'s election to the President of our several States I have taken it upon myself to do what we Episcopalians call "The Daily Offices". It is easy to keep one's mind of improving society when one (this one) feels that others in society are doing the same. Not so much when one knows those with power are doing otherwise. * The Daily Offices include a whole bunch of Psalm reading as well as other Bible & Christian tradition stuff mostly directed toward Justice and Charity. (Jesus, Isaiah and the Psalm writers thought justice and charity as non-negotiable obligations). Doing the Daily Offices reminds me that I am supposed to doing good things for others. * As to whether there is a God and life after death or a resurrection, salvation by grace and all of that: We will see. I don't think me doing The Daily Office will change that or cause God or his agents to come and smite Donald J. or his minions.

    1. I'm waiting for the notes following the asterisks, which, BTW are in the wrong place.

      What is it with this relentless try to do something extraordinary with common and time honored punctuation? Emoji's on a budget?

  2. I just started following you at the recommendation of a friend. Our friendship just went up several notches on this recommendation!!!


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