THE ART OF AGING – Part IX: Sometimes I Feel Sorry for God

Norwegian Sculptor Gustav Vigeland, Vigeland Park, Oslo, Norway

The Covid-19 pandemic is exposing our beliefs, wants, demands, and intolerances. One year in, and it becomes clear what we truly do value, what we focus on. For some, social contact appears to be the ultimate of their survival, as expressed via zealous social media posts and banned group gatherings.

This brings our attention to religious leaders such as Pastor Coates of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and to his congregants and their ilk. I hesitate to include Coates as part of this discussion, should it fan his notoriety which, I speculate, he is enjoying at the moment. However, his story is trending, so worthy of a poke or two. . .

. . . One poke being that which jars me to say that I sometimes feel sorry for God! Religious beliefs have caused uprisings for as long as humankind has existed. It directs our behaviours, both moral and not, both personal and communal. It starts wars, and it heals. Our various approaches to religion and its multifaceted nature is why I think God’s head is shaking when looking at the marvel of creation and how we continue to destroy it.

Norwegian Sculptor Gustav Vigeland, Vigeland Park, Oslo, Norway

The second poke is in asking the question, what is it about us humans that we need a fight to engage in, that we need to be destructive? I can’t help but notice that fight rather than flight is the order of the day—yes, I get it. . . hard to ‘flight’ anywhere with global Covid bans. So, is this why we’re putting up our dukes? Are we caving in to the pressure of pandemic limitations, therefore desperate to fight, to war, to destroy? Is the seeming oppression of this all-encompassing viral attack rousing our knee-jerk reaction to stamp our feet, pout, and decide to fight someone, or for some cause?

Covid protestors, religious advocates, political activists, and conspiracy theorists who say this pandemic is a sham, all proport that their rights are being hampered, denied, ignored by government rulings meant to protect the public. Coates says he’s being persecuted and will only answer to Jesus. For that reason, he stands against the law that has placed restrictions on his church gatherings.

Agatha Christie, here’s something to write about!

We claim our social rights, and yet, we fight. . . each other! The first known murder occurred 430,000 years ago.

The attacker smashed the victim twice in the head, leaving matching holes above the victim’s left eyebrow. The dead body was then dropped down a 43-foot shaft into a cave—where it lay for nearly half a million years. Source

Brutal behavior occurred long before the development of societies as we know them. Marta Mirazon Lahr of the University of Cambridge, says that the fights, wars and conquests of prehistoric times sadly continue to shape our lives today. Source

Skulls smashed by blunt force, bodies pin-cushioned by projectile points and hapless victims—including a pregnant woman—abused with their hands bound before receiving the fatal coup de grâce. . . Source

Unlike catastrophic events such as hurricanes where social differences are set aside and altruistic behaviour rises to the forefront, this pandemic is otherwise showing that we are “less likely to agree that helping someone in need is the right thing to do. This pandemic is not bringing people together; rather, responses reflect the partisan divide that so characterizes recent times.” Source

Fighting. . . is it in our DNA?

Scientist Dr. R. Douglas Fields says that history and facts indicate it to be so.

Our violence [forcefulness, passion, strength] operates far outside the bounds of any other species. Human beings kill anything. Slaughter is a defining behavior of our species. We kill all other creatures, and we kill our own. . .

  • We kill our family members, our children, our parents, our spouses, our brothers and sisters, our cousins and in-laws.
  • We kill strangers. We kill people who are different from us, in appearance, beliefs, race, and social status.
  • We kill ourselves in suicide.
  • We kill for advantage and for revenge, we kill for entertainment—the Roman Coliseum, drive-by shootings, bullfights, hunting and fishing, animal road kill in an instantaneous reflex for sport.
  • We kill friends, rivals, coworkers, and classmates. Children kill children, in school and on the playground. Grandparents, parents, fathers, mothers—all kill and all of them are the targets of killing…

Incessant repetition throughout recorded history and in prehistoric times of murder and war among all cultures of human beings has its roots in our evolutionary stalk. Source

Fields goes on to say that fighting is not only a genetic predisposition, but is also “highly correlated with fierce territoriality and living in social groups”. Might this help to explain why protestors shout their loathing of Covid-19 pandemic rules, and like Coates, fight back? Might this pandemic dissention be the beginning of deadly violence because social norms appear to be threatened?

What type of person is a fighter?

Scientists across multiple fields are tackling this question. What they’re coming up with so far is that fighters:

  1. Are genetically driven, as already discussed;
  2. Are social beings and fiercely territorial;
  3. Are often victims of violence;
  4. Are often poorly educated and subject to economic and social hindrances;
  5. Are impulsive, seeking instant gratification;
  6. According to some criminology theories, are Mesomorphs, individuals who are muscular and athletic; and…
  7. Apparently are Canadians who are against wearing a mask and/or maintaining social distancing during this pandemic!
    • A father is stabbed in a parking lot here in Canada when a Covid protestor attacks his daughter — It seemed like he just wanted to pick a fight… He had 10 feet to walk around us. Source
    • In Vancouver, Canada, a police officer’s leg is broken because of a Covid protestor. Source
    • Business owners and staff are assaulted by Covid protestors. Source

The general pattern we found was that the [forcefulness] was intended to regulate social relationships… Only when [forcefulness] in any relationship is seen as a violation of every relationship will it diminish.  Source

Whether we agree or not with the research and theories, one thing is certain, this Covid-19 pandemic is pushing us to respond with a forcefulness that is only beginning to reveal the full spectrum of its colours. For those of us who believe in God, it’s difficult to watch the likes of Coates using religious belief to counter logical, scientific and socially prudent structure, difficult to accept the destruction of our earth and its bounty by our species, difficult to understand human slaughter, and dare I say, difficult to stifle one’s anger at those who care only about their lost rights during this pandemic.

I feel sorry for God, and it might just be that writer Karen Alea does a bit as well: “This global pandemic has revealed there’s already a virus inside some American forms of belief. . . Spiritual terrorism is showing up on a national scale.” I wonder if award winning author Johnathan Merritt might have some sympathy for God when he writes, “some of the most visible Christians in America are failing the coronavirus test. In place of love, they’re offering stark self-righteous judgment. . . The earmark of Christianity is kindness, compassion, and supernatural love. It’s not fighting back, attacking enemies, settling scores, or leveraging other people’s pain for your own advancement.”

Norwegian Sculptor Gustav Vigeland, Vigeland Park, Oslo, Norway

In closing, if one believes that God is truly omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, the Great Architect, and Holy above all holies, then feeling empathy, sympathy, and/or compassion for the Almighty is probably not going to influence. What having empathy for God does do is that it helps us, the human fighter, to step outside our limited point of view, our tiny bubble, and see things from a greater perspective.

In the scheme of things, we are but grains of sand, dots on the earth’s surface, surviving according to our prejudices and selfishness. Trying to capture even a glimpse of God’s panoramic view might help to balance our greed and narcissism.

Put A Little Love In Your Heart by Canadian Singer Anne Murray


What the research is saying about human behaviour

www.analynnriley.com

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