For Christ’s sake, I am an idiot. Listen up: I wrote some two thousand words but still wasn’t able to fit the Apocalypse in an essay; the Armageddon in twelve point font. Isn’t that what writing is about?
Hold on to your hats. The topic I wish to understand better is something that has been with humanity since they gained enough neurons to wonder, something that claims I need not question but simply listen, something that has caused both the fleeting feet of peace and fleeting fleets of war. Naturally, I am talking about the belief in God. Or I should say, my lack of it and why people would bother in believing at all.
I know that some people will not like this essay from the onset. The combination of “God” and “lack of” in a sentence tends to make some spit holy water over the nearest Bible or whisper Buddhist mantras underneath a shuffling of mala. They ask, “Who the hell is he challenging Him/Her/Its anyways. Just a creature from His hand that doubts because God allows doubt. But still, that boy is an ungrateful bastard.” Others may even perceive that I may try to attack the gods, or a God, or maybe a Dog (with a few slips of a finger). I won’t, although, such a typo would make my situation even more ruff.
To understand why I bare this ‘Doubting Thomas’ cross, and why I chose this God forsaken topic, I should first tell you what I am religiously: a human. Beautiful word, isn’t it? A Homo sapiens; one who is not so much wise as he is inclined to “homo” proclivities (despite what your pastor may say).
Besides that last bit, I am the same as you; 13.7 billion years of the finest ‘goldy locks’ conditions fashioned into a thinking, spongy membrane. I am a chromosomal jackpot; a 1 and 25000 thousand shot; and there is two of me. I am also different from you. That’s the beauty of it. Together, we make humanity’s jigsaw puzzle. What is more is that I am as you are when one asks if you believe in Osiris, Thor, Baal, and the works. I stare at the potentially vacant jury table carved in the clouds the same way I stare mystified at a flower blooming. I am, I repeat, a human, and humans believe in god.
And so in that vein, I am also an angel cemented to the ground with wings clipped at birth when my umbilical cord was strung out for the heavens to hear. Sadly, the sound of an infant did not reach the clouds. Instead, it fell on my mother’s sweet ears. There were no words of Muhammad whispered into my navel, no praising my name to any Way, and no parting of the Red Sea, unless blood counts for anything. Beeps of a heart monitor were my choir of angels. In my beginning, there was no light or darkness; there was nothing but elbow grease and the sweat of humanity’s brow hard at work.
I was conceived knowing as much about gods as much as I did about walking, quantum mechanics and pooping. I couldn’t say the Hail Mary. I really didn’t know pooping on the carpet was not allowed. Nor was I aware that Schrodinger’s cat shared a very unique characteristic with the gods; they were either alive or they were dead. Safe to say though, that my original sin of ignorance to the existence of a God soon dissipated. As I grew, diapers went a’flying, screams went a’shouting, and I was raised as a Catholic. I only tell you this just in case you believe that I am some stinky hedonist who simply clings onto the ivory tower of logic rather than faith. Quite contrarily. I am far from logical and I once even called Jesus my Saviour. Nowadays, I consider Kurt Vonnegut my Messiah. Read any two of his books and I swear you can see God. Or at least, you’ll have a literary crush as large as Mount Sinai.
Anyways. With the Catechism shoveled down my throat, with the many of the Saint’s name memorized, I stopped believing in God. It happened one day when I learned that cars could be wrecking balls bouncing off brains. When metal somehow became an inescapable prison from the sound of reality. Most of all, it occurred when I discovered that human beings are just meat wagons with organs jingling around like forgotten change. We are not beings created from dust and divine breath. We are dust bags wheezing out the fumes of our past until we wheeze no more.
It was December 22nd 2005. Christmas was coming. Jesus’ birth was soon to be. Hanukkah had recently finished. People were festive. People were excited. There was so much to celebrate but so little time. Santa Clause found his way on every street corner and parents found themselves with empty wallets. It was going to be a white Christmas. Wrong. Dead wrong. It was red. Blood red.
My friend, Francesco Porto, was coming home from a hockey game with his mother, sister and cousin. They were caught up in the beauty of the white Christmas apparently. Since all beautiful things turn into disaster, they swerved in the snow that was conjured straight from a Robert Frost poem. Another car hit them in a head-on-head collision. They died soon after. I never said goodbye. I never will. Sometimes I do wonder though what else would I say if I could see him again. Maybe I’d finally say goodbye. Maybe he’d finally say no, see you later.
I don’t mean to sound so terse and listless when writing all that. I just don’t feel words have enough weight to capture the crushing of a human body that was so young, so beautiful. Even if they did, I wouldn’t want to use them anyways. What would it matter if I fit the Armageddon into a sentence? It’d be the end of the world anyways. And on December 22th, it was the end of the world. A mother disappeared. A son disappeared. A sister disappeared. A friend disappeared. A cousin disappeared. A lover disappeared. A wife disappeared. A smile. A heart. A person. Everything, everyone disappeared. It was a magic show that would never end, and yet, it was just that: “the end”. It was the end of a story that read Once upon a time there was a boy who lived. The last lines of the story read And he is no more. Funny. No one lived happily ever after. Well, at least I didn’t.
I would include a picture of Chesky, so you could see how generous genetics could be, how goofy he was from the curve of his smile, how intelligent he was simply from the depth in his eyes, but I can’t do that. He lived not as a picture but as a person. Instead, I’ll wish that photographs could come to life, that you could see him for yourself in real time and that the Universe wasn’t such a cold, hard shithole. I haven’t wished upon anything since I prayed my last time in grade eight that I could hear his laugh again.
At the family’s funeral, while I attempted to act like a man would, stoic and indifferent to the world, while I was stuck on the ride of the Coriolis effect, I let go of God. His hand wasn’t holding mine. My mom’s was. His hand didn’t cradle my friend’s body in the bolted down coffin. Some of his family was. Most of all, God’s saving grace sat idle during it all: the tears, the cries of Francesco was too young and the storm of screams bellowing from a car steering into the wrong lane. He didn’t do anything. He didn’t even show up for the funeral.
Yet what still bothers me to this day is that with a flick of a hand, the world didn’t have to be tipped upside down. Heaven didn’t have to have gates. Friends didn’t have to die. Maybe I’m asking too much though.
Now, if there really is a God, and He did do something, then what He did was childish. This is because God, the almighty Creator, ran away from His responsibility of caring for the world. Chesky was a child once; a more beautiful child than God could ever create. Yet a child is never supposed to be buried before their parents and parents aren’t supposed to bury their children and a 13 year old boy should not know that the taste of death are the tears that fall down his cheek and that those tears that crash to the ground like atom bombs speak louder than any god ever did.
And if by chance that God has not run away too far, I hope December 22nd haunts him for the rest his or she or who-the-fuck-cares infinite life. At least that way, He can feel the pain He caused so many. That’d be the reincarnation. That’d be Saving Grace. Instead of redemption though, God would probably just mutter that He didn’t know what He was doing.
Some people did try to console me though. They told me that God had a plan. There was some intricate design that had been laid mysteriously for us all. We were all vital to it, although we’d never know it, nor would we ever know what that plan was. In fact, everything was vital to that plan, from the smallest rock to the largest star. So Francesco had to die for God’s blueprints in the sky. Want to hear a joke? Read that sentence again.
After looking into the empty eyes of a friend, waiting for him to wake up, I can say I humbly disagree with that idea of any plan. But if you believe in it: fine. Music was never meant to be heard in some ears: the greatest composer of all time was deaf for Christ’s sake.
One woman was deaf in particular. During the funeral, I noticed that some lady brought fake plastic flowers. While leaving the funeral, she turned to me, and I guess noticed my wet diamond-sparkled eyes. Being the hungry diamond miner of souls she was, she quickly went up and chimed on about how each earthly occurrence was part of God’s grand design. We can’t know why things happen, she said, only that God has a tremendous plan for each and every one of us. His reasons are just, though we might not be able not understand them. I will always laugh at that. Fake flowers and even faker words. Personally, I believe it’s silly to tell an thirteen-year-old-boy that God’s tremendous plan is to turn his friend into the words RIP. Really Idiotic Planning, if anything.
Don’t get me wrong here. It’s not that I don’t believe in God: there could really be a man floating in the sky. Shiva could exist. So could Iris. However, if there is a God, one of which I chose to capitalize throughout the essay because I am used to the Roman Catholic conception of Him, I would never follow Him. Not after everything. Not ever.
However, I do understand that some people find God after misfortune, and some consider Him a necessary stick to lean on. This seems to me even more ridiculous than finding Him in the best of times. The idea of God punishing someone because He loves them or is testing them is like not wanting a romantic relationship until a member of the opposite sex beats you cold It’s like not buying a dog until it gives you rabies. It’s like … hell … it’s like believing in God.
After all that, I should stress that this essay was not an attempt to either do the topic of suffering logical justice nor was I attempting to sway anyone of their own ‘beliefs’ – although I would call it more of a pipe-dream. It was my personal view of a world that has been characterized by suffering. In my worn and tired eyes, the gods have fled, and humanity remains.
And while this human named Kacper remains, he wishes to understand why someone would want to believe. He has tried faith, but life seems hell enough to be waiting for hellfire somewhere else. That’s why he wrote these words: an attempt to comprehend why he doesn’t believe. Moreover, he wrote this piece because a moving finger is a sledgehammer against the gears of time, because from dust he comes and dust he will return, and because, most of all, he wishes to remember Chesky. Someone has to because God never did.
But regardless of whatever suffering that will occur, humanity will be here on Earth bearing it all while the empty lots of dead gods stare from above, so far from suffering, so far from reality, and so far from caring.