Bloggers I Have Met
The following is from an assignment my son did for one of his
classes. It was to be something about his most life changing event.
It starts out a bit slow, but at the end of the third paragraph it will grab
As people get to know me they often brand me as being a pessimist. I then have to correct them and explain that there is a difference between cynicism and pessimism. After that theyíll think they have me figured out, just another cynical youth. Seen it before they think, one more young person who doesnít care about anyone or anything. But again they are wrong about me. Yes Iím cynical but my attitude doesnít stem out of apathy. I care about the world and I care about the future but something fills me with doubt that anything can be done to change current courses of destruction. I believe I know what this thing is; it is my loathing of the general public. I like individual people well enough but humans as a whole I donít trust at all. And I am going to share with you how this came about. I can remember the exact day I lost my faith in humanity.
It was in the fall of my junior year in high school. Iíve always taken as many advanced courses as possible in school so that I would be having classes with the smarter students and this year was no exception. I was taking Accelerated English and one of our more interesting projects weíd do during the year were ďbook talks.Ē The person presenting would bring in a book they had read that year and talk about it to the class. After describing the book that person would give out two questions to the class and one by one the students would give their personal answers and we would discuss.
That fall my presentation had come and I took my seat on the old rough couch at the head of the classroom. Most of the other 20 students were in desks arranged in a circle around the classroom although some were lounging in beanbags and on the other couch at the back of the room. Our teacher took his seat in a desk and I brought out my book: Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith. I explained the basic points of the book, ignoring the occasional snide comments I got from some classmates. Then I gave out my two questions. I donít remember the second one anymore, I donít even remember if we got to discussing it. However, I remember my first question clearly. I formed it specifically to be generic but apply to the topic at hand. I asked them, ďIf a belief you held was shown to be irrational would you abandon that belief?Ē
Any rational person would only find one answer to this question, I was sure of it. One by one my classmates shared their answers going around the circle. They would speak in quiet voices and talk in circles as if they didnít have any determination behind their words. It was clear I had made them very uncomfortable and that they werenít sure what to believe. I was proud of my question, maybe I had finally managed to get these students to think and question their own beliefs.
Then it came time for my teacher to answer, he sat up straight in his chair and spoke in his soft but wise voice. I only remember one sentence that he said in his answer, it is forever etched in my mind. ďJust because something is irrational doesnít mean you donít have to believe in it.Ē
To this day I donít think Iíve ever heard anything that as disgusting as that proclamation, ďJust because something is irrational doesnít mean you donít have to believe in it.Ē The rest of the class immediately began chattering with renewed energy. They were agreeing with him. I donít remember much after that, I was too stunned. Here my teacher and mentor was putting forth the most absurd statement Iíd ever heard. And my peers, the advanced students, the future of our planet, were agreeing with him. They all thought that it was a perfectly reasonable idea, this madness that he proposed.
You see, before I asked that question Iíd always thought that people were just ignorant. I thought that maybe they were just misinformed and that I could reason with them and logically explain the world around them. From politics and economics to religion and morality Iíve always had very different set of beliefs than most people. Iíd never been able to comprehend how someone could give all their political support to one political partyís ideals instead of thinking for themselves. Or how they could consider that the government had a right to a cut of a manís work through the income tax. I never understood how no matter what facts or evidence or logical errors I pointed out to them they still clung to their beliefs. Now I know.
ďJust because something is irrational doesnít mean you donít have to believe in it.Ē This single idea has a complete disregard for truth. It doesnít matter that the world has been proven round, you can still believe itís flat if you want to. It doesnít matter if all evidence shows that people have the same genetic code no matter what their skin color is; you can still believe some are inferior if you want to. What this statement means is that you can believe whatever you want, it doesnít have to be true. There are no right or wrong answers, everyoneís beliefs are equally valid.
Iíve always based my beliefs on truth. If something I believed turned out not to be true then Iíd just have to get rid of that belief. All questions have a right answer and a wrong answer, itís just a matter of figuring out which is right. And until that day in English class Iíd thought that was how everyone else thought as well. Now I see the world through different eyes, I understand. People may be ignorant, yes. But it is a willful ignorance. They donít want the truth. No matter how many times I explain they are wrong, no matter how much evidence I give them they donít care. Their belief makes them feel good and thatís good enough for them.
And this understanding of peopleís willful ignorance leads directly to my lack of faith in humanity. I donít trust people to fix the political system, I donít trust people to see religion for what it is, I donít trust people to see the truth that is in front of them, and I donít trust people to be smart. People donít want to question their beliefs, theyíre happy being ignorant and it doesnít matter how much I argue with them they wonít change. Therefore they are not worth my time. The majority of mankind doesnít care for truth and so I donít care for them.