It’s been some time since I wrote a blog post – been pretty busy of late with travel and writing projects – which is good.
But I feel compelled to write this, because I’m troubled more and more these days.
By now, I’m sure everyone has uttered, memorized or is familiar with one of the most iconic lines from the series “Breaking Bad” – the one where Walter White utters his darkest and most dangerous sentiment: “I am the danger.”
I hear that in my head almost every time I hear someone say: “I believe.”
For a number of years I have been contemplating the nature of that word and what it means in my life. And the conclusion I’ve come to is – I’m not going to use it anymore.
Instead, what I hope I can do, is to use the phrases “I think” or “I know”.
It’s tricky, because for most people, “I believe” is intertwined with a spiritual or religious connotation. It’s a phrase that epitomizes one’s faith.
Yet, it’s this very symbiotic relationship that has caused me to re-evaluate and to reach the conclusion, that I’m no longer going to use it.
In my experience, in my perception and in my dealing with others, what I’ve come to understand is that it is a divisive word. It separates people. It fosters fear, mistrust and the unreasonable idea that we are either right or wrong.
The phrase ‘I believe‘ seems so dark to me now – and looking back on history, its soaked in blood and misery. Perhaps there are those who will read those words and think to themselves that I’m wrong, that will have a negative reaction to my perception and will tell me so… and I’m ok with that. Feeling passionate about something is one of the many things that we all have in common. It tells us we are emotionally involved, that we care and that we feel compelled to speak out. Hence this post.
I’m not a religious person. I wouldn’t even say I’m a spiritual person, though I lean more towards that description than others. I’m a seeker. Always have been and hope I always will be. I’m not a scientist or a philosopher or whatever label you want to put on me – I like to think of myself as just a human being, who is doing the best he can to move through the world and to leave it in better shape than how I found it. Which is an arrogant statement because, by the very nature of me being here – consuming and feeding and discarding… I’ve contributed to the changing of it for the worse.
And I’m sure there are those that would accuse me of being a pacifist – as if it were a bad thing. I won’t deny it. I’d much rather walk away from ugliness rather than wade in and bark about my convictions. I understand that what I think and feel and know – is simply my own perception of something – and that others have their own, and the right to own them. I am OK with that.
It troubles me that so many others are not… that it is their life’s purpose to convince others to act like they do, think like they do, believe like they do.
The funny thing I find is that if you know something to be true… the less you feel compelled to defend it. 2+2 is 4. No one will argue about that, no one will hurt you about that. No one will ask you to die to prove that 2+2 = 4. Knowing and believing are two different animals. And one of them has teeth and claws and is far more deadly.
I hesitate to post thoughts like these because – as a person with some modicum of celebrity – I’m well aware of how words and what we say can be taken to heart by others. And how ugly and hurtful some words and phrases can be –
You need look no further than our political leaders, candidates, pundits and others to witness that for yourself.
There is an avalanche of hate and poison be hurled at us daily through news sites, TV shows and YouTube clips that it makes getting out of bed in the morning a real accomplishment. To be able to just walk through the day and to survive the outpouring of outrage, violence and brutal reality of how we treat one another is something to be somewhat proud of – especially if you manage not to contribute to that ugly and unconscionable behavior. But we are emotional creatures, as well as thinking ones – and when pushed too far – ugliness and brutality result. I don’t think we will ever escape that.
It’s in our nature it seems, hard-wired into our DNA. If we are not engaged in conflict – we create it, either in sports or entertainment. We need it.
I’m writing this on the anniversary of 9/11 – a date and event that changed the world. Well, at least the human one. So, forgive me if my thoughts are a bit dark and introspective.
The events leading up to the attack in New York were precipitated by many many things. To reduce it to just one or to lay the blame at the foot of one is the very thing I think I’m trying to say with this post. And not just 9/11… but so many others that have occurred in the past or in recent history. This list is too long to put down here – and that I think is the saddest point of all.
We are doomed to violence. We seek it out, we revel in it, we idolize it… we believe in it. But why? Why do we gravitate to it so? Is it truly hard-wired in us? Nature is filled with violence and blood – every organism on this planet is touched by violence in some form or another…
Violence is the tool of belief.
I will (no doubt) be accused of over simplifying, of ignoring all the good that belief also creates. I just think that the bad outweighs the good – for every deed that lifts us up, there are a hundred others that drag us into depravity.
What I think is, we want the bad more than the good. In some very real sense – war, protests, riots and suicide bombings are a result of generations of belief that one is right and another is wrong.
So what’s the solution? I have no idea.
The only thing I can do is to think and to know that I plan to live each of my remaining days seeking and living as best I can – thinking and hoping and promoting the best inside us… to avoid the Danger and leave the believing to others.