The fact of the matter is, we’re all lying to ourselves. We want to believe it’s possible to be holy. To feel divine. We sacrifice ourselves, put ourselves on the line, with the naïve notion it pleases some disembodied voice in the sky. We look to socially agreed upon models of exemplary “spiritual” human beings and attempt to replicate ad nauseam.
Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa.
We want to be anything besides decaying, breathing, eating, pissing, shitting, laughing, crying, screaming, pleading, egotistical carbon-based forms. Hairless apes that both love and hate each other and are – sometimes intentionally, occasionally inadvertently – royally fucking up this planet.
Unable to cope with the reality of our imperfect and impermanent nature, we invent afterlives, saviors, and heroes. Saints and martyrs. We strip away all their blemishes and foibles with mythical righteousness, projecting onto them all our prayers for what could be.
If only, we lament, if only humanity would try just a little harder to be good.
We forget that Gandhi was a superstitious and conflicted fanatic that denied his wife life-saving penicillin when she was diagnosed with pneumonia.
We forget that Gandhi was a superstitious and conflicted fanatic that denied his wife life-saving Penicillin when she was diagnosed with pneumonia. Modern medicine was not to be trusted. She died as a result. Of course, when the “Mahatma” himself came down with malaria, he had no qualms with taking Quinine to advert his own date with death.
Not to mention those teenagers he slumbered with in the nude – all just to test his own chastity.
Oh, and then there’s saintly Mother Teresa. The quaint Albanian nun that even nonbelievers hold up as the epitome of noble self-sacrifice. Never mind her fundamentalist ideas regarding divorce and family planning and her careful convoluting with notorious dictators and corrupt bankers. Let’s most especially forget the fact that her mission was actually to convert the poor masses of Calcutta languishing on cots in her primeval death houses – not to alleviate their suffering. In Teresa’s mind, poverty was purifying and necessary.
The terminally ill did not require pain relievers – only prayers for their soon to be departing souls.
And Martin Luther King Jr., his weakness was flesh. When he was away from his wife giving now-famous speeches, he was also seeking solace by sleeping around.
No one should be placed so completely beyond reproach that they lose all trace of their humanity.
Even Jesus (that is, the historical Jesus – you know, before his subsequent deification into a miracle-working God Man) probably had his share of personality flaws. Those money-changers in the temple had him royally pissed, so, who knows. Maybe he smacked women around from time to time. Maybe he was a chronic masturbator.
Maybe he fantasized about young boys.
No one should be placed so completely beyond reproach that they lose all trace of their humanity. We’ve all had horrible cases of diarrhea and blown strange colored snot out of our noses. There’s times when all of us have woken up regretting what we did the night before.
And there was a time in our history when we didn’t seek salvation because no one thought the human condition was something they needed saving from.
The world will only improve when all six billion of us stop trying to live up to the fictitious reputations of saints and superstars. When we start looking inward for ethical guidance instead of taking commandments from above. Until then, we’ll continue collectively smiling with collagen-injected lips, pretending everything will be OK if only we could find a way to just be good.