Knock on the door
Well, I’m making breakfast this morning – around 10:00 AM – and I hear the doorbell ring. No – I didn’t think that the ‘authorities’ had come for me, finally.
So I step into my storm porch and see a man and a child. He’s smartly dressed in suit and tie, and of a slim build. The child probably of around age 7 is well dressed too. Did I say it was his child? I did not! From his appearance, I’m right in thinking that he or his genes are of African origins.
I enquire of his visit, with the storm porch still locked. He says he is a Jehovah’s witness and shows me a leaflet. He’s saying something which I did not hear – and at this point I’m pretty much switched off. So I say I’m not interested. He said, “Thank you.” – for God knows what (his God obviously) – and he and the child are off to knock on the next door. Calm down. This minor thing has happened several times over the years.
But I began wondering about what drives him to do this sort of walking around and spreading the word of his God. Did I say anything was wrong with this? I did not! So I’m thinking that he knows he is inspired to spread the word of God. He knows this is good. He knows that he is working for the greater good of humanity in delivering God’s message(s). Those are reasonable assumptions, as for sure I do not know exactly what is in his head.
And – I’m thinking – what if he was born and had stayed in some African nation, would he be spreading the word of God as a Jehovah’s witness? Some would quickly go ‘Of course! They have Jehovah’s witnesses in Africa, you know‘. Yes – I know – I’m not 3 years old! And – how did any ‘Western religions’ arrive in Africa? By those doing the work of God? Could the Slave trade have had anything to do with it? ‘Oh no… no… those folk were inspired by the devil himself!‘ – I’d expect to be told. Righhhhht – so I had better shut up then? Well no, I shall not!
Africa was not born a nation of religions related to Christianity (or whatever else we see over there today). They had their own religions. Note I did not say, what moment in time I might place the man back in Africa. What if it was before Jehovah’s witnesses and Christianity arrived in Africa? Did I say that the man should go back to Africa or should have stayed there? I did not! If that thought, question or attitude arose in your mind, it is you who are the racist! I raised the question because I have to think probabilistically about what others would think – even a small percentage of people.
So the man in his journey to ‘spread the word’, is a product of whatever influence came upon him in his upbringing. His belief system – that seems so right to him and others – is a product of a ‘system’. He may well have his own thoughts and beliefs – but his overall raison d’etre has been determined by various forces.
Did I say any of this was confined to religion? I did not! Am I here to assault anybody’s religion or philosophy? I am not!
If any belief system one holds is the product of some ‘system’, then one’s attitudes, thinking and actions are not truly one’s own. I’m sorry about using the word ‘one’. I’m just trying to not make this ‘personal’, as some people reading this may come to think I’m referring to them.
And I move to consider the ‘dark side’ i.e. people who become terrorists. They know what they are doing is right and justified – so much so that many of them are willing to commit suicide in achieving for the ‘greater good’ as they see it. We could well frown on those types – that’s easy. But I’m not into unpacking the mindsets of terrorists. I’m saying that any ‘system’ may provide anybody subject to it, with attitudes, values, belief systems etc – that all ‘makes sense’ (to ‘them’ – just to be specific).
Oh dear my my imaginary imp – the one I call ‘Stupid‘ is breaking in!
Stupid: So you’re saying that people are not themselves?
CW: I said no such thing.
Stupid: So, you’re saying that people should dump their beliefs in everything taught to them by ‘systems’ as you put it?
CW: No. I said nothing about ‘dumping’ anything and I did not advise anybody to throw away their religious beliefs.
Stupid: But you are implying it – aren’t you?!
CW: Actually it is you who are implying something into what I was saying. Get a grip!
Stupid: You’re being evasive. Clearly you intend for people to give up all that they know and come to believe because it was supplied by some system.
CW: I’m not being evasive about anything. You are – as you know – entitled to your own perception. What I am saying is that it is for people to dig deeper if they want to, into their current sets of attitudes and beliefs about anything that motivates them in some aspect of life.
Stupid: And what if they don’t want to – and see no issue in what they believe?
CW: They share a similar state of mind to one who is affected by radicalisation. People who are radicalised equally see no ‘issue’ in their own mindsets.
Stupid: But they are evil people. How dare you compare Jehovah’s witnesses to terrorists!?
CW: I’m doing no such thing. I’m trying to get across that the both of those groups are equally affected by values they come to know, love and respect – and see no need to question any of it.
Stupid: So you’re saying that Jehovah’s witnesses are like terrorists?
CW: What! Chyrsst!! Look, I’m only trying to show that both groups have come about their respective mindsets based on what was fed to them – usually over many years – usually the formative years. I’m trying to show that there is a common process. Yes – one turns out to be peaceful and spreading the word of God, whilst the other spreads bullets and nail-bombs.
Stupid: Oh – now I get it. Thanks for explaining it.
CW: What? You actually understand – I can’t believe it.
Stupid: No – really I see your point. Thanks.
Hmmm.. I really didn’t expect the above outcome. Lemme try to get back on track.
For my own part, I grew up in a system of democratic principles. That’s all I know. I might read about other systems like communism, but I can’t really know what it is like to grow up under such rule. All the media and books I may read from, that report on communist societies are also influenced by ‘Western thought’ (or have a high probability of being so selected).
So, the difficulties for me in embracing some other system of ‘thought’ such as communism, are equally or more difficult for the man if he was told to do his ‘work of God’ from the perspective of a believer in Islamic values. We’d be both victims of the same type of but different ‘programming’. What if I grew up with no religious influences, would I come to a belief in Gods? I doubt. Some will say ‘Sure you would because you’d have a problem explaining nature’s beauty without a belief in Gods, so you’d create one or one would find you‘. Like no – I used to explain nature’s beauty and designs from a religious perspective. Now I’ve found other robust ways of doing the same. I stripped away over many years that which was fed to me (unknowingly). In the end I became an atheist, for a number of reasons – not simply related to any of this.
Did I say that anybody who reads this has to accept what I say? I did not!