I was having a bit of a rough time of it and then some unhinged individual set off a nail bomb at an Ariadne Grande concert in Manchester. The kind of concert my own little Moo would have loved to have gone to. My heart took a battering for all those parents, friends, children who were having the time of their lives, only for it to be shattered into a million pieces by one deranged, brainwashed, misguided person.
Ever since Moo was diagnosed as being on the Autistic Spectrum, I have been going through a rather strange, disquieting period of self discovery where I am suddenly realising that all the strange things that I struggle with and that I have always kept to myself, may actually be completely explicable. I have gained a very real understanding of why I behave the way that I do, why I think the way that I do and why I have this internal conflicting, confused social dialogue. In finding all of this out, I have also started to question who I am and what I actually believe in.
I then heard a man on the radio describe humans as the only animal that built cultures based on what could be described as a story, religion. I also read a line in a puppy training manual that resonated with me which said “human are by nature a very aggressive species”. A biologist once described the human race as a “great mammalian weed” which is, in the context of our history, what we have done and what we continue to do to this planet and each other, stunningly accurate. We might think we are intelligent and above the other animals but we are not. We are animals first, humans second. More importantly, we are pack animals. We need a sense of connection just to function.
All of these thoughts have been milling about my head and I came to a rather psyche shifting conclusion. After 45 years, I have realised that I don’t actually believe in God. I thought I did, I believed that I did, but actually, I used Him like an invisible friend because I have spent so much of my life confused about friendships and people. I’ve spent a lot of my life looking for guidance and, sometimes, a mentor figure. In my darkest times, I needed to feel like there was someone out there guiding it all. I turned to the idea of God because He was always there. Nobody could take Him away from me. I’ve said before that I don’t believe in religion but I do believe in faith. This is not to say that I think that people who believe in God or practice religion are fools or stupid. I think that if it brings you great joy and comfort, then good. Whatever works for you. It certainly isn’t religion’s fault that people continue to kill each other. If it wasn’t religion, it would be something else. After all, it’s just one pack of aggressive animals attacking another.
I think religion served a very important purpose in the past when we were a lawless load of heathens with the capacity to kill each other, willy nilly. The best thing about religion is that, when you take its founding principles, it is designed to make us civilised, to have morals and principles, to have a sense of community and to make us feel connected. That is a beautiful ambition.
The flip side of religion is that it can sometimes take away a person’s sense of responsibility or accountability for their actions or beliefs. The American Indians believed in five different genders until Christians came along and told them they were wrong. Homophobia is often rooted in a belief that it is against God’s law as it says so in the Bible. While all major religions preach peace and love, that ever so aggressive animal, the human, likes to butt heads with each other and say “believe in God my way”.
But I would still classify myself as a person of faith because there is something that I truly believe in and it was shining forth in the aftermath of the bomb explosion in Manchester. I believe in the GOOD. I believe in kindness. I believe in courage in the truest sense of the word: a wise heart. I believe in compassion. I believe in empathy. I believe in inclusion and love and peace and everyone being free to be the person they want to be, religious or not. I believe in the homeless man who cradled a dying woman. I believe in the lady who led 50 children to a hotel. I believe in the nurses and doctors, who were off duty, but went in to help. I believe in the policemen, the taxis who offered free rides. I believe in the capacity of the human spirit to stand up in the face of a horrific act and grow stronger, kinder, more compassionate.
I don’t think any god pushed those people to do those things, I believe it was because that is who they are. They had courage and they were kind.
So it turns out that I am an accidental Buddhist because I do believe that if we all looked inward, instead of outward, for fulfilment and to be the kindest version of ourselves, we would be a lot happier and maybe, just maybe, some of these horrific incidents wouldn’t happen quite so often.