I came across a photograph of an emaciated, defenceless infant being cruelly stood upon by a man. One foot was planted on the child’s neck and the other on his pelvis. The boy appeared to be alive, judging by the expression of agony on his face. I don’t want to share the photo because I think some will find it unbearable. So I will settle for putting an image in your mind with words.
But I must ask myself (and so should you), what does this picture tell me about REALITY? It says that the world is a wild animal park, that there is no one “above” looking out for us, that a successful life involves some degree of pure luck, no matter how much effort we put into it.
I could tell myself that there’s a God who cares for me, but I know I’d be lying. If God values my life and happiness, why does he not value this child’s? I could tell myself that it’s not God’s fault; the evil was done by the man crushing the boy. But I’m deliberately forgetting that God is all-powerful, because I love him and want to let him off the hook. Who am I kidding?
The next time you thank God for his blessings upon you, spare a thought for this child, and ask yourself why you don’t hate God. I don’t hate him, because I know he is an invention. I choose not to believe in a divine parent, because reality teaches his absense. This is only unclear if we bury our heads in the sand. I prefer a life without comforting illusions, because those illusions only work until they are tested by reality. Sometimes reality is comfortable and sometimes it is horrific. To believe that God orchestrates it all is to make God a monster.
No. The world is a wild animal park; it’s that simple. Any genuine and lasting spirituality must be grounded in reality, not in wishful thinking. Initially, it may feel like staring into an abyss, but if you look hard enough, you’ll eventually find treasure. I wish I could explain it all with a handy anecdote, but real spiritual insight is a lot harder than “Believe in me”. Reality invites you to gaze upon her without averting your eyes. That’s as good as starting point as any, but can you handle it?