“[sic] There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise*, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. There faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.
These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defense, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.” Yann Martel, Life of Pi, (Random House, 2001), excerpts from Chapter 25. paise = money or cash
Mr. Martel wisely describes the nature of religious zealotry, ironically published just before 9-11. Zealots of any religious faith (which includes agnostics and atheists) should realize that they are accountable for the world. They chose to condemn people for faults or bad luck instead of helping the “widows and homeless children” et al. Zealots are personally responsible for not assisting those in need. They would rather shout, cause trouble, be violent, and waste their energy in negative activities. Don’t they realize that someday they may be in need of a “good deed”? Who will help them if they don’t help others while they are able to?
I could expound with self-righteous indignation at recent stories of people using religion as a weapon to harm others physically, mentally, or emotionally. Sadly, there are examples in the news every day. However, I have to examine my spiritual and personal efforts to defend those who are less fortunate. My journey of finding faith is detailed in January 1st & 4th entries. I am an Animist & Unitarian-Universalist (UU). More details at www.uua.org
Ok, so what am I doing to rush to the defense of the “widows and homeless children” or any person who is in need? How can I put faith into action? First, I have to accept that I am a single human being. I cannot do everything. I must do what I can. I have chosen to work with 501(c)3 nonprofit non-governmental organizations or educational institutions for 98% of my working life after brief dalliances into for-profit settings and retail sales. I may not make much money in nonprofit but I know that my efforts are helpful. Unfortunately, agency funding has been consistently unstable so that has lead to periods of unemployment including right now.
Making donations to other nonprofit groups is second method of support. I donate funds, in-kind gifts, and volunteer time. I regularly volunteer for disaster response, community building, and mentor college students. I also pitch in for special events, fundraisers, and conferences. It matters how I spend my time just as much as how I spend my money. Each minute of time or dollar spent is a vote for something. Every moment is precious because it will never return. www.volunteermatch.com and www.volunteertwincities.org are good resources.
Lifestyle choice is a third dimension. I live a simple life with two feline companions. I drive a thirteen-year-old car in need of repair. My nearly hundred-year-old home requires lots of repairs but all that is on hold until I procure employment. I don’t have cable/satellite television or a smart phone. The Internet is dial-up because it is cheaper. I try to spread a little joy through this blog. I have never been interested in acquiring “stuff.” Any object that isn’t a basic necessity (food, clothing, shelter) is a luxury. I know that I am fortunate to have a house, auto, and cats. I maintain an attitude of gratitude.
Every human is connected to every other human. I have a duty to aid. I have felt that way since I was a small child. Perhaps it is due to the Higgs Boson Particle but we are all in this experience called life together. Period. End of discussion. What are you willing to do? How will you use the small clearing of your heart to rush to the defense of people in need?
Help others every day.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing