Many of us, especially now (when international news is accessible at one click) take a look around thinking something is seriously wrong with the world. Wars, inequality, sadism, dictatorial madness all abound in an infinite palette of variations. This is neither new nor easy (or even possible) to solve, no matter how much idealists elaborate on “changing the world”.
Many of us feel that we don’t belong, and some days, the sheer volume of gloom is depressing. Yet is it healthy to develop a genuine belief that the grass is greener on the other side, when that other side is nothing but fantasy, with zero evidence, or even a small indication of validity to back it up?
The belief in an afterlife isn’t always toxic, if one takes it as a mystery and part of how we function, without the actual anticipation of death. Yet some people take it farther – by becoming convinced that the specific afterlife they believe in not only is real but applies to everyone, and everyone should live with it in mind, whether they find it plausible or not.
What is it that drives people to welcome this phantasm of the complete destruction of humanity?
We are biologically programmed to do our best to survive. Sometimes that fails naturally, when the body is incompatible with continuing to live, and sometimes it fails as a result of the mind giving up after prolonged trauma.
Given our programming to hang on to life by any thread, as any living organism does on this planet, this religiously-inspired desire to die, when not caused by suffering, can safely be considered a parasite or a virus.
It goes against the very nature of our species.
When put in broad perspective, it sounds like something deranged people would want to see happen. Looking at those around them, young and old, and wishing death upon them instead of rejoicing in their company and feeling glad when they are thriving, be they believers or not.
Some believers are unable to partake in other people’s joy, whether it’s a marriage they deem unlawful in the eyes of their helicopter sky goblin, or a thriving young person being liberated by atheism; by it’s new perspectives and possibilities. They are put off, if not disgusted by other people’s happiness, when it does not ply on their restrictive narrative.
How can someone experience love, or be pro-life for that matter, if they can’t appreciate the value of life with all it ups and downs, and all the emotions resulting from them? If they disregard the depth of others’ thinking and the value of their existence for simply being non-believers?
This is one of the greatest tragedies inflicted upon the human mind – the belief that one’s death is preferable than their apparent – not even sincere – apostasy or conversion, depending on their specific circumstances. Or, of course, where Islam is concerned, the belief that dying to harm “the enemy” will bring someone eternal rewards.
If one is faced with any other type of lunatic, they do their best to get out of that situation alive, especially when a few simple words could deescalate it. It’s the same with wild animals one can try to appease by throwing them food, instead of becoming their food. Survival is of the essence.
If someone, say, put a gun to your head and demanded you call them Caesar or Voldemort, you would do it just enough to stall them and buy yourself time to get away.
But if someone equally crazy demands that Christians convert to Islam, or any other situation of this type, Christians sometimes resign themselves to dying, even if their entire family is murdered in the process. After all, their god loves human sacrifice and would rather see them and their young decapitated or tortured, than see them pretend to convert to a different religion.
To die out of loyalty for a fictional character, and at times let your loved ones die with you, without attempting to save them, is indeed a senseless tragedy.
If that loving, fair god truly existed, he would not demand that in the first place, as it is abhorrent.
A few years ago I read “Prisoner of Theran” by Marina Nemat, a very brave woman who managed, against all odds, to survive the brutality and persecution of the Iranian revolution, which brought religious fanaticism with it. Imprisoned partly due to the books she kept in her room, tortured in prison and almost executed, she went to extreme lengths to preserve her life – including marrying one of her captors, who fancied her, and falsely converting to Islam. Had she not done that, she wouldn’t have been able to emigrate and write about her experience in safety, where she continues to live in the normal circumstances anyone should enjoy.
Life is precious and worth holding on to, against all perils and threats. Whereas when one is suicidal that becomes difficult, it is the natural instinct we all have.
To give it up or wish it away based on a sky goblin is the most ridiculous, infuriating thought ever.