Sunday, 11 September 2016

What Lies Ahead

It's easy for me to understand why people in situations like mine, situations of illness or other extreme distress, turn to God or some other religious faith. It's almost impossible to accept that such a rare illness is not rooted in some supernatural intervention, or that supernatural intervention is the way to respond to something so unbelievable as ALS. To go a step further, when seen in the context of a complicated and confusing world, for so many people there is no other way to see it than through some sort of "higher power" lens.

The online ALS forums are full of it, people propounding the power of Jesus, people inciting others to pray, memes with beautiful sunsets or pictures of angels providing some form of scriptural wisdom. It seems that those who post these items feel that Jesus or God will only work if they post it in some sort of public forum, as if their belief was not so much personal but depended on the affirmation of others. They seem to be strengthening themselves by sharing, at the same time as believing their random post on some Facebook group may actually bring a cure or a treatment.

I see it in Facebook scams all the time, the "like farming" scams intended to boost the popularity of a given page or user, thus increasing the advertising revenue associated with the page. The whole "one like = on prayer, one share = one miracle" kind of thing leaves me incredulous that people think so little of their own beliefs that they would click and think they are making a difference. The truth, of course, is that their click allows them to feel like they are doing something while in fact they are doing nothing, other than helping some unknown person make money.

Having a disease like ALS, a disease where there is so little to be done, a disease where the consequences are so massive, must be almost incomprehensible for so many people. To have to stare into an abyss where you are compelled to admit there is no reason that you have this disease, that it has attacked you randomly, that you cannot be cured or treated, is terrifyingly isolating. The sense of aloneness is almost beyond comprehension. So people look to God for answers.

Sadly, even God has no answers, unless you can accept that most threadbare of expressions that "God works in mysterious ways", which is, of course, no more of an answer than any other. This is why adherents are called upon to have faith, to believe in things unseen, to cling to the gnostic and embrace the spiritual world. If we cannot find, or understand the answer, then we need to believe that there is one out there somewhere, somewhere in a supernatural world beyond this one.

Then there is the final darkness, death. The terror of not knowing what happens next is just too much for a great many people. Better to believe in something unseen, some unknown and unproven text based on visions and dreams, than to simply say "I don't know what happens when I die." And so we post memes about how wonderful heaven will be, tell stories about what might be there.

I have no answers for this. I am actually quite comfortable with the fact that nobody knows why I have ALS. I am actually quite comfortable with the fact that I don't know what happens after I die. So far the best evidence I've seen is that I will be no more, except in the memories and experiences held by those I leave behind. When those fade, I will be gone from history, from time, from space.

I believe that life after I die will be the same as life before I was born. I was not a part of it then, I will not be a part of it then. I was not, then I was, and soon again I will not be. It is not nihilistic. My live has had purpose. My life has had value. I did my job while I was here. I procreated. I made my world a better place as best I could. That's what I leave behind. What lies ahead is unknown. To be at peace with that means to be at peace with everything.

1 comment:

  1. "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
    Mark Twain