Why is the world so crazy?
Reason #1 – Letter A: We are ALIVE. But we don’t KNOW how or why.
In fact, no one does. No mystic or guru. No religion. No government. No individual. Not the entire consensus of the whole scientific community.
I know this is a troubling statement. And its a far worse matter than Jack Nicholson's "You can't handle the truth!"
We don't even KNOW what truth IS.
We don't even KNOW where to BEGIN looking for truth.
We don't even have a ground floor of truth to stand on when contemplating our own existence.
Let me be very clear. This is NOT atheism, pessimism, fatalism, or nihilism.
This is realism.
Realism: the attitude or practice of accepting a situation AS IT IS and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.
We are ALIVE.
We don't KNOW.
Which is the absolute ROOT CAUSE of all of Earth's craziness. This is the FOUNDATION of a crazy planet and a crazy people.
We’re here. But we don’t KNOW how. And we don't KNOW why.
Abandonment issues are not just for those who've had a mom or dad leave them. Being alive without KNOWING how or why gives ALL OF US abandonment issues.
There are no clear, definitive answers to the big questions of life.
We don’t KNOW where we came from.
We don’t KNOW why we are here.
We don’t KNOW if we go somewhere after we die.
Not a good start if we are hoping for a sane planet.
My brother said something to me several years ago that I found very helpful. He said,
“There is a difference between KNOWING something and BELIEIVING something.”
Did you catch that?
If we are brutally honest, none of us truly KNOW by hard evidence and with absolute certainty 1) that there is a God (that's why it's called "faith"), 2) what is the uncaused cause that created our existence, and 3) what happens to us after we die.
We all BELIEVE something concerning these subjects.
But our BELIEFS are not KNOWLEDGE.
My mother is in her early 80's. She is a devout believer in Jesus Christ. And she lives out her FAITH about as non-hypocritically as anyone can. She talks the talk. She walks the walk. She has been a Christian for some 70 years. She firmly believes that when she dies, she will go to heaven, be reunited with my father, and live forever with Jesus.
But even my mother will acknowledge the difference between BELIEF and KNOWLEDGE. When I once said to her, "Mom, none of us KNOWS what happens to us after we die, we only BELIEVE." She quickly, humbly, and honestly replied, "That's true."
Our BELIEFS are not the same thing as KNOWLEDGE.
And our BELIEFS may or may not be true.
And when it comes to the absolute origin of all things, no one KNOWS with absolute certainty where we came from. No one KNOWS with absolute certainly how or why we are alive.
This uncertainty surrounding our own existence gnaws at every human on earth. We hate not knowing something. It drives us crazy.
Humans hate living with question marks. When we don’t have an answer, we invent one. When we don’t have a conclusion, we create one. We have become masters at taking personal liberties to remove our question marks and replace them with periods.
We create certainty out of uncertainty.
Because we are without KNOWLEDGE - of how or why we are alive - we take it upon ourselves to create BELIEF.
We literally imagine and make up BELIEFS. And we pretend that our newly invented BELIEFS provide the clear, definitive, and irrefutable answers to the "How?" and "Why?" questions of our existence.
And from our invented BELIEFS we also have created man-made religious and political systems of power.
Power that attempts to create order out of the chaos of our mysterious existence.
Power that attempts to control what seems uncontrollable.
Power that attempts to create certainty out of the uncertainty.
Power that pretends to KNOW what it really doesn't KNOW.
Power that uses coercion to make others BELIEVE, obey, and conform.
Power that provides the false justification for the universal diseases of false authority and human slavery.
Humanity's' wide variety of BELIEFS are not the same thing as established KNOWLEDGE. They are merely BELIEFS which may or may not be true.
And this human propensity to treat BELIEF as though it is KNOWLEDGE provides the fundamental, singular building block for creating a crazy person or a crazy world: DISHONESTY.
Why is this a crazy world?
Because Earth is a DISHONEST and DELUSIONAL world. We pretend to KNOW things we actually don't.
Because Earth is a DIVIDED and DANGEROUS world. We fight and kill each other over our invented BELIEFS concerning the how and why of our existence.
From Earth's earliest history, our human ancestors didn't KNOW how or why they were alive. So they created the BELIEF that they were alive because of numerous gods.
Sun and fire gods.
Water and wind gods.
Thunder and lightning gods.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
And our human ancestors didn't KNOW such gods existed. They BELIEVED they existed. And they built beautiful, elaborate temples to honor these gods. They established priesthoods to "talk" to these gods. They constantly killed sacrifices (even human) to appease the anger of these gods.
Gods THAT THEIR OWN MINDS HAD CREATED.
From our modern perspective, they were nuts. They were crazy.
But why? Why were they crazy.
Because our ancient ancestors were ALIVE, but they didn’t KNOW how or why.
So our ancient ancestors created certainty out of uncertainty. They created BELIEFS and entire systems of BELIEF.
These BELIEF systems drove them to do both terrific and troubling things. To exhibit both constructive and destructive behaviors in obedience to their BELIEFS.
Eventually, humans begin rejecting the idea that we were created by numerous gods (Polytheism). Instead, three major individual’s arose who taught that there is only one, true, creator God who is the how and why of our existence (Monotheism).
1) Moses of Judaism (you could/should also include Abraham here)
2) Jesus of Christianity (you could also include Paul)
3) Mohammed of Islam
All three of these men claimed God talked to them and explained the how and why of our existence.
However, there are some obvious problems with Monotheism. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all condemn one another as being false or outdated. Historically, they have killed one another. Which of them is the true faith?
And none of these three BELIEF systems have a consensus. Judaism is divided up into various sects. Christianity has some 34,000 denominations – and growing (World Christian Encyclopedia). Islam has two major divisions that have infamously fought and killed each other throughout most of its 1400 years.
Most recently, many believe that we are alive purely by chance and by the workings of nature. That there is no personal God behind us being alive. Only an impersonal something.
But where did it all come from? Where did energy come from? Gravity? How did life originate? Where did the information code in DNA come from? How can intelligence rise from non-intelligence? How can life rise from non-life? How can consciousness rise from non-consciousness?
And isn’t a little too convenient that a mindless process evolved both males and females and the wonder of animal and human reproduction? What is the explanation for the intricacy and detail work of the human brain, eye, ear, nose, heart, immune system, digestive system, circulatory system, muscular system, nervous system, endocrine system, etc.?
"Well, because of science...we KNOW it’s not God."
Really? We KNOW by hard evidence and with absolute certainty?
Or just BELIEVE?
And let's not forget that there is a small minority on Earth who believe that we were created by some superior species that came from another planet in the universe. How these alien creators are alive themselves is still another question.
So what's the answer?! How did we get here?! How are we even alive?!
It's 2020, and we still don’t KNOW. We are still having to create BELIEF.
To keep sane, we create BELIEF.
But the BELIEFS we have created to keep us sane eventually cause us to act crazy. Those question marks we initially replaced with periods, we go on to replace with exclamation marks.
We start explosively defending the BELIEFS we’ve created.
We become dogmatic, even violent in defending these BELIEFS. People will die for these BELIEFS. People will kill for these BELIEFS.
And not just the religious folk. The 20th century gives hard, irrefutable evidence that the non-religious do the same (China and the Soviet Union).
It’s a violent, bloody, deadly - and yes, crazy - cycle in history.
Pagans who created gods to give meaning to their existence killed other pagans who created different gods that gave meaning to their existence.
Monotheistic Judaism came alone and killed the pagans – even wiping them from the face of the earth. Pagans fought back and also killed these monotheists.
Eventually another version of monotheism came along, Christianity. These Christian disciples were routinely killed in their first three centuries by the Roman Empire for their new BELIEFS.
Then Christianity eventually became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The formerly persecuted now become the persecutors. Those who were once being killed are now doing the killing. Anyone not accepting their BELIEFS.
Then Islam was created. The early followers of Islam were also killed as it was the new threatening BELIEF system. Eventually Islam grew in power and became the killers and conquerors of competing BELIEF systems.
And it bears repeating. Throughout history these monotheistic religions have killed one another. No one still knows for sure who the one true God is and what he expects.
And the harsh reality: billions of monotheists living on Earth today BELIEVE what they BELIEVE – not because God talked to THEM.
But based on the BELIEF that God talked to SOMEONE ELSE 3500, 2000, or 1400 years ago.
And the realism in all of this craziness?
We still don’t KNOW where we came from.
We still don't KNOW how or why we are ALIVE.
All of the periods and exclamation marks we have created and killed each other over – THEY'RE STILL QUESTION MARKS. And they are question marks at best.
We still don’t KNOW. The best we can do is BELIEVE.
So what is the cure for this cause of crazy? That we are alive and we don't KNOW how or why.
Here is my proposed path to sanity:
1) Let's stop killing each other in the name of BELIEF.
Here's an idea - I hope it doesn't fly right over your head.
Let's. Stop. Killing. Each. Other.
Humans have been killing each other for thousands of years over matters of BELIEF. Over matters that - strictly speaking - are question marks.
"But Jesus is Lord of all, and he’s coming back again!"
Do you KNOW this? Or do you BELIEVE this?
"But Mohammed is the final prophet of Allah and we are commanded to kill all infidels!"
Do you KNOW this? Or do you BELIEVE this?
"Only science has the answers to all these questions!"
All the questions? Do you KNOW this? Or do you BELIEVE this?
None of us have it all figured out. Not you. Not me.
"But my mind is telling me to fight, shame, even kill all those with opposing views."
Then take control of your mind.
Those with differing BELIEFS and from differing BELIEF systems are not really enemies. They are fellow wanderers on a crazy, confusing planet.
A planet where we all find ourselves alive without KNOWING how or why. These rival BELIEF systems are doing their best to also find meaning and sanity on Earth.
This is why freedom and love alone will heal the world.
We all must be free to think, question, reason, doubt, fail, evolve, and transform.
We all must love each other throughout each step of this mysterious, discovering journey.
Let's stop killing each other over BELIEF. Let's start loving each other just because.
Kindness, not killing will heal the world.
2) Honesty and Humility
The path to sanity require that we humble ourselves. We KNOW very little. And what we BELIEVE may not even be true.
And its ok.
Did you hear me?
And the path to sanity requires that we become rigidly honest. We will never be truly sane, individually or collectively, until we become completely honest.
We must stop pretending to KNOW things we don't really KNOW. If we don't KNOW, we say we don't KNOW.
I challenge you to humbly and honestly evaluate what you truly KNOW vs. what you merely BELIEVE.
What do you BELIEVE? Why do you BELIEVE it?
Is it because the powerful authorities in your life – your religion, your government, your teachers, your boss, even your parents and siblings – taught you and threatened you to BELIEVE these things – or else? ("Or else" meaning they would literally hurt you.)
Have you ever had complete freedom to disagree with those who programmed your mind with their BELIEFS?
No wonder the world is crazy.
This world will NEVER be sane UNTIL we all take on the spirit of humility and honesty concerning what we KNOW to be true and what we merely BELIEVE to be true.
Individually or collectively, the path to sanity begins here. We must be humble. We must be honest.
The path to sanity is made easier and more enjoyable by gratitude.
Let's embrace the realism of it all. Our existence is a mystery. We are alive. And if we are rigidly honest, we don't KNOW how or why.
And I'll say it again. Its ok.
From any worldview, our very existence is astonishing. It's miraculous. It's amazing to be alive. Let your heart and mind be filled with gratitude.
Take a deep breath. Take a step back. Chill out. Live with questions. It’s ok to not have answers right now – and maybe never. Relax and see life as a constant process of discovering just a little bit more each day.
At 47, here's where I currently am at. I don't KNOW what the meaning of life is. But I have found at least three things that make life very meaningful: beauty, love, and compassion.
I encourage you to be grateful every hour of every day that you are alive. I encourage you to create meaning to your own existence by living a life of beauty, love, and compassion. Three things that will be sure to make us individually and collectively more sane.
Next time: Why the World is Crazy from A to Z: Letter B - The BURDEN to Survive