With power comes responsibility – why beliefs matter

(I wrote this for a competition for radio 2’s thought for the day – I didn’t win!)

Being Good

The other day I went into my eldest daughter’s school to tell stories of the Amazon for their topic. I had learned a few stories of spirits who live in the jungle who punish people if they cause harm to the trees, the animals or other people. I used a storyteller trick of leaving the punishment to the imagination so they actively used their own minds to come up with “The worst punishment you can possibly imagine”.

At the end the children were all gazing at me wide eyed, the energy and power I felt from so many children hanging off my every word made me feel tremendously responsible. They all wanted more detail about the spirits, especially what the punishment was, I reiterated that it was the worst punishment you can possibly imagine and one little girl mouthed “you die”. My next words needed to give them power over their fears. I made it clear that the spirits only punish those who do the wrong thing so we can be glad as that means they are looking out for us to make sure nobody harms us.(I could have scared them into being good by saying they’ll be fine so long as they never do the wrong thing, but I’m not a catholic)

 

From this I realised 2 very important things, firstly it is what we don’t say that has the most power and secondly, the way we feel about being judged depends if we believe ourselves to be good or bad.

 

We all try to be good as we are taught that being good will earn approval, but if those from whom we seek approval are silent, the power of the silence makes us try even harder to please to the detriment of our true self.

 

That is where faith and religion come in. We need to have faith that we are good and worthy of approval from the start, if we believe it, then it is so. Religions give us the rules to live by, if we break the rules we will be told so we can be forgiven and learn. It is our behaviour that we are judged on and it is our behaviour that we can always change to ensure we are always judged to be good.

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Belief and science Vs Faith and Economics

At church today (yes, I do go even though I know and understand God differently to modern society, both christians and atheists) the vicar was going on about how he likes to go to Kielder Observatory and one of the scientists there said something like “I wouldn’t want to abuse my children by telling them lies” about christianity and the vicar said something like although he had a concept of the universe, it was his “belief” in God that made him special. Basically both men are stuck in their ways and their beliefs and have closed their minds to any alternative, both believing their judgement is somehow “better” than the other. I believe in equality, so for either to believe they are better than the other makes them both wrong in my book.

Anyway, creation is only one part of what God has supposedly done. In real life it makes no difference to me whether God made the world or magic or science. In truth, to me they are all about the same and ultimately I have to just accept the world is here and be glad to be in it.

So scientists are able to go off on one about how the world was created and priests can go off on one about the same, but what do I tell my children? If I believe it is important that I am all knowing I will tell them with confidence either God or the big bang. Either way I am the holder of knowledge and I can answer my child’s questions so they don’t need to keep annoying me by asking (damn their inquisitiveness!!). The truth is, to a 4 year old, the truth is less important than the ability to imagine the whole world and our insignificance within it. So to hell with the scientists and the priests, I’m a Mother and I want my children to have open inquiring minds so maybe I’ll say “I don’t know, what do you think?” or maybe I’ll tell them both theories and ask them which they like best? So long as their minds remain open to new learning and they can appreciate the beauty around them and lift their eyes up to the skies and imagine the vastness of the universe and be able to focus on the detail in each individual flower. It really doesn’t matter for now.

Then the vicar went on about a man telling him he followed the 10 commandments and the vicar looked at him and thought, “you liar” as in the 10 commandments it says you mustn’t get angry (I’ve just checked, it doesn’t, but lets allow the vicar to be right for the sake of argument). The vicar believes that everyone gets angry, so nobody can keep the commandments. But since my time in hospital I have been able to remove anger from my life. Anger comes to us when our pride is hurt or we are told we are wrong or we hear about injustice. It is possible to let go of anger and let in curiosity, forgiveness, understanding as a response instead of anger. If we all want to be good humans I can’t see anything wrong with striving to rid ourselves of anger. I get irritated and annoyed every day, but when I do I tend to speak it out e.g. why are these shoes here, put them away in the cupboard, or what is this dreadful mess? Gargh!!! I don’t get angry and I can let my feelings out so I don’t build up resentment.

So at the end of church I told the vicar his sermon was wrong and that he might think he knows God, but I think he lacks understanding. I explained why and he said “don’t tell me you don’t get angry” and I said, well not really and I do try not to let things make me angry, that’s the thing about filling your heart up with love (like Jesus says), it’s hard to feel anger when you love everything, so I said again that I thought he was wrong to think the man a liar. This got the vicar really angry!!! And he said “I’ll pray for you (with pointing finger) it sounds like you need it!!” 

I couldn’t help but think he proved my point! He is judging others by his own failings. That isn’t what a good human should do. We should be aware of our failings and strive to increase our empathy and understanding so we can be as good as we possibly can be. The vicar seemed to think it didn’t matter how he lived his life, so long as he believed in God. That is just stupid and arrogant. He even said that he knew atheists who lived better than him, but it was his belief that was important. Absolutely wrong.

How we live is important, not just for ourselves, but for others – God is also an economist. We mustn’t live selfishly as it has an impact on other humans in a world of finite resources. Believing that we can be as greedy as we like because science will find the answer is as stupid and arrogant as the vicar. We need to have faith that if we do our bit to be good and frugal, others will do the same, otherwise if we believe others will be greedy, it might make us want to grab and snatch as much as we can for the sake of our children if not for us.

So to hell with scientists and priests, they’re as bad as one another. Humanity needs to have faith in itself, or an empathetic God of economics. Without faith all hope is lost, without economics to help us understand why behaving well is good for all we have lost sight of the cooperative animals at the centre of our being. That’s God that is. We are God of our own lives, but it takes a lifetime to understand and truly know our internal judgement system. Animals know themselves better than we do. Why do you think Jesus made the story of his birth take place in a stable among the beasts? Society had got a bit up itself then too.

 

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Proof of a soul

I haven’t really wanted to go on about what inspired me to write this blog as if I mention mental health a lot of people automatically switch off, but I’ve just had a potentially good meeting.

If I had been listened to when I was initially admitted to a mental hospital in December 2012 it could have saved 4 months of my life being locked away from my eldest 2 daughters.

I won’t go into detail, but sexual discrimination is rife in the UK, I didn’t realise the extent until I wasn’t believed because I am female. Really. Now time has passed and I can prove myself again I actually think I have a fighting chance of getting my complaint upheld. If I can prove I wasn’t mentally ill, I was just being myself and responding to being treated as mentally ill and not believed for telling the truth which sent me into a deep physical depression, then it could prove the existence of the human soul.

Lack of empathy for me as a human being caused me to lose all empathy for myself and my whole body stiffened and every passing moment was painful and devoid of emotion. I was dying from the inside out, a slow involuntary suicide that I had no control over. I didn’t know you could die from depression apart from willfully committing suicide. You can. It used to be called melancholia and was recognised as a natural human response to a broken heart. I now fully understand why people would commit suicide willfully, anything to stop the agony of being alive with no empathy. It lasted 5 weeks until ECT switched my empathy back on and I could be myself again.

We are all prisoners in our own minds and lack of empathy for ourselves and others switches out the light of our humanity, our soul.

Living with the truth while others continue to believe a delusion of me that I just can’t be has stretched me to my limits and shown me what I am capable of. I’m secretly glad of the dreadful ordeal I went through as it has taught me everything I have ever believed is true.

Humans are inherently kind and good, but being brought up with discrimination leads to unkind, bad behaviours that go against nature. All discrimination is wrong. All humans are equal, no matter their race, gender, age or faith. I know these words are easy to say, but they are terrifically hard to live by if you have ever been made to feel inferior or superior to others by virtue of your birth into the “wrong” or “right” family with the “wrong” or “right” gender, or just for being a child or an OAP.

There is light at the end of the tunnel to all who have ever suffered discrimination, you just have to forgive and believe…

In humanity, God, Buddha, Allah, unconditional love, kindness, yourself, your soul, the world, Mother Nature, children, art, culture, stories, whatever you feel you can pin your dreams to and not be let down.

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Belief Vs Science

Believing a God of fairness and reason exists gives humans a reason to be fair and equitable in their affairs.

Scientifically we know there is no such God, but do we have to stop believing just because we know there isn’t a being overseeing our decisions?

I thank our ancestors for their belief which kept them modest in their desires to save resources for their children (us).

How will our descendants judge our current society? Are we using finite resources sparingly for their benefit?

God teaches us to want less and be more. This puts the good of humanity before the selfish whims of the individual.

Science and state currently teach us we can have what we want and never mind the consequences. The more we consume the better for the economy and therefore all of us, but in a capitalist society this just leads to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Parents invest in their children and stockpile wealth to give them an advantage over their peers, but then that leads to a generation of idleness, or children doubting their own abilities as they have never earned for themselves. The poor are unhappy, but so are the rich.

If ever there was a time for the church to step in and sort out what really matters, it is now. Our society is seriously selfish and warped and our education system has lost the plot. Unfortunately our church leaders don’t truly understand God. They are too busy insisting he is real to accept it is the concept of a fair minded forgiving judge that is most important.

It is only with absolute empathy for all humans as exactly equal that any of us can pass judgement on the affairs of others. How do we know if our empathy is absolute or that we don’t hold some deep seated discrimination at the core of our being that stop our judgement from being perfect?

Do we believe truly that we are equal to all other humans?
Or were we brought up to believe we are superior to other humans outside our family? In conflict we assume we are right and others are wrong.
Or were we brought up to put the needs of others before our own to such an extent that we believe our needs to be inferior to those of others? In conflict we automatically look to ourselves to see what we have done wrong.

Do we believe men and women are equal? Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. If we don’t treat boys and girls as equal  we can hardly expect them to grow up believing themselves to be equal. Belief and perception are equally as important as reality when it comes to the human mind.

I only know that believing and faith allow our minds to be open to new experience and new learning from other humans. Closing our minds to an ideal of absolute Godlike empathy leads to us closing our minds to people who behave differently to our experience.

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Why?

I work as a storyteller, but spend most of my time as a Mother answering questions children have asked since the beginning of time. Mainly just one question actually. Why?

I’ve never stopped asking why, but I don’t think any of us really like definitive answers, they sort of ruin the possibilities, or our faith in what we were told when we were children. I was very lucky as a child to have been given common sense answers in a matter of fact manner about the really important questions, but was also taught about fairies and the supernatural and allowed to answer questions with my own imagination – I was told about nature, how systems worked, taxes etc, but most usefully about death (school eventually taught me the other things, but school doesn’t teach how to relate to other people and how to deal with death). My Mother has been preparing me for her death from an early age, but has also shown how to live in a structured, ordered fashion with enjoyment, honesty, integrity and nourishment of human relationships. It means when she does die I know she will be OK about it and that makes me feel OK about it, I’ll feel sad, but I will always have her in my heart, just as I have memories of her Mother in my heart even though she died before I was born. They will live eternally as I tell as much as I can remember to my children and them to theirs – heavenly!

We’ve stopped telling stories to our children from our memories, our faith and imaginations, we live in a literal age when reading stories to children is as much about teaching to read as it is about teaching through stories. We seem to want to give our children all the definitive facts that science has worked out for us and leave little to the imagination. The Bible used to be the book of stories that we retold and explained the wonders of nature and how society works, but now we know God isn’t up in the clouds and a lot of the stories in the Bible contradict the main message of christianity or break my 2 life rules, we dismiss the whole religion and mock anyone who has faith.

But that is just silly! It’s called chucking the baby out with the bathwater.

I was brought up as a christian and managed to listen to stories in church and sunday school relating them to myself and learning from the experiences of the characters in the stories. The faith that is taught in churches that I have been to is much more about being united as humans to be good and kind and less about finding some obscure passage in the Bible that is discriminatory or judgmental. Just because the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope blaspheme and make judgements it is not their place to make, doesn’t mean you should dismiss a whole religion that people have followed for centuries.

I’m not a complete naivete, I worked out when I was about 15 why God was invented. I remember thinking about war and what was going on in the world, Aids and the hole in the ozone. I thought if only there was one person in charge of the whole world who was fair and good so that inequalities between countries were made smaller and all the world did their best to be environmentally friendly and have knowledge of how to prevent the spread of disease. Ah,  that’s why they invented God!

Now I have a better understanding of the human soul through an experience when my soul died and I became a husk of a person, there in body, but not in spirit, I understand even better why God was invented and then reinvented by Jesus.

Humans have 3 parts, their physical self, emotional/spiritual self and the mental self. Belief in God helps us to develop as our true selves with a guilt free emotional/spiritual self which allows us to access the pure logic of a well ordered mental self.

I’ll explain better in a further post, but my point in this post is that we don’t need to know where God is, how he created the world, how he allows disasters to happen etc. We just need to think about why humans since the beginning of time in all cultures have created God.

Necessity.

So why is God a necessity?

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What do we believe?

It seems to me that current society believes modern society is rational and reasonable as we only believe in what we can prove scientifically. We are better and cleverer than generations that have gone before.

We do what we like when we like and believe it is our right as individuals to do what pleases us and turn a blind eye to negative consequences if we believe society won’t judge us for our decision.

Does this make us happy?

Is it morally right?

We believe morals make people judgemental and we believe it is wrong to judge people as that is discrimination.

But are we missing something?

It is wrong to judge a human for their personality, their soul, their physical characteristics that make them unique and cannot be changed, but what about their behaviour? You cannot change your physical self, but you can change your behaviour.

I believe as a Mother that it is my duty to bring up children who behave well according to 2 simple rules. If my children stick to these rules they can be absolutely true to themselves whoever they might become.

My rules come from economic theory. They are rational and reasonable, but science would discount them as they rely on faith in the human spirit, something you cannot yet prove to exist scientifically.

Rule 1. The Pareto Criterion – You cannot make one person better off if it makes another person worse off unless you can compensate them. We are all of equal worth – all races, religions, ethnicities, sexes.

Rule 2. The Prisoner’s Dilemma (We are all prisoners in our own minds, in the prisoners dilemma the rational choice leads to the worst outcome, if everyone had faith and trust we would reach the best outcome) – Believe in yourself as a good kind human and have faith that others are good and kind too. If you behave well to others, people will behave well towards you. If someone is unkind to you, first look to yourself and see if your behaviour needs to change, but if you have done nothing to deserve unkindness, forgive the wrong and move forward without losing faith.

These rules are what I was brought up with. Not explicitly, through music, stories, culture, education, training, experience. I have managed to refine my whole being down to these 2 rules due to an experience when I was forced to question everything I know and believe to be true. 

I believe my rules have allowed me to live a good and happy life where I have pleased myself and followed my hearts desire, but without allowing society to corrupt me into denying any negative consequences. I feel resolved that my actions have not caused the pain or suffering of another and I do my best to live ethically and within my means. I carry no burden of guilt, just like a child. It is only through my recent experience that I have regained my innocence. It gives me inner peace and contentment and allows me to speak my mind and express my thoughts. So I won’t judge you as a person, but I will try to help you lead a better life by telling my story and teaching the lessons I have learnt.

We can all learn to be better people as judged by our children, children judge us by our actions, not by the justification we give to excuse bad behaviour.

What is bad behaviour?

Anything that breaks the rules – there are only 2 rules, how hard can it be?

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