My Intolerance Towards Tolerance

When I see shameless slime bag politicians do something that breaks previous records of douchbaggery by politicians, I get a feeling of total lack of understanding. One, how can a normal person say something like ‘well, foreigners may be allowed to eat beef after taking a special license.’ Two, then I realize that a law codifying that holiness of beef has been passed into law in that state. Three, And in many other states too. Four, Since decades. Five, there is probably popular support for these sort of laws.

It’s religion, you see. When religion enters through the front door, logic vanishes through the rear door. I am not persuaded by the idea that one should be — that I should be — tolerant towards all sorts of people with all sorts of beliefs and so on, towards irrational people. Why should I? “Well, what’s the harm if someone is irrational,” the tolerant people may ask me.

Hmmm, let us see, if there is any harm or not. Tolerance for religions and “faith” leads to politicians, some of whom are competing to be the most powerful man in the world in the U.S., who have made some truly outlandish utterances. One candidate for president would want women who get pregnant from rape to nevertheless deliver the babies instead of going for abortion. One politician wants god to speak to him and through him and give him directions.

Well, what harm, if someone has irrational faith, you might ask. What’s wrong if in a moment of medical crisis, some person is given to making silent prayers to invisible superpowers? What’s wrong if a player wants to offer a silent prayer before the beginning of the game? What’s wrong if a coach leads a sports team in such a prayer? In fact, I saw an astronaut the other day who was not pleased about it becoming deprecated for coaches to lead such prayers though players have all the freedom to make their personal appeals to their favorite sky residents.

Such irrationality coming from all sides actually makes our own peculiar, local forms of irrationality appear quite rational. Like women of India — Hindus, apparently — who are given to worshiping the Moon on a certain day of the year. Or is it many days? I’m not sure. I once say my BTech educated sister doing the Moon worship thing during the summer when she was visiting. I was not at all good at disguising my displeasure though I was too tolerant and allowed the charade to proceed. I apologize for this example of tolerance I showed once. I have grown more intolerant since then. For example, I have near zero interactions with my blood relations as I know — or, assume; but it’s the same as knowing — that they are all without exception given to having faith in the many gods interpretation of religious pottery.

Is it possible that a person landed on the Moon and then proceeded to be a Moon Landing Truther, someone who believed the Lunar landings were faked? Well, who knows. You never know with human beings …

Perhaps in India, we’ll surpass in our own time. Will people of the Hindu faith put foot on the Moon knowing that it’s a ‘god’? Will that not defile the said god? May be we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it; may be 30 or 50 years from now. Then there’s the matter of landing on Mars. While Elon Musk or NASA may land humans there in 10 to 30 years, India may take a 100 years to reach there. And even then, will that mean that everyone will stop believing that the Mars is anything but a mere planet. Which has nothing at all on human affairs.

(Yes, I am hinting at all the astrology believers and kundali matchers.)

So, what’s wrong with having a little faith? May be it’s the big day of the IIT JEE and the kid wants to do a puja thing … or, perhaps the parents are more aware of the prestige issues at stake and hence probably their supplications to god had far more pathos. The young man or woman was probably casually confident; or diffident. I won’t know. I never prayed during my entrance-examination days and don’t know if my parents prayed for me.

What’s wrong if that candidate going for his written exam for that government job is offering a little prayer? There are probably a few lakh candidates like him if not a few million all chasing a few hundred or thousand jobs. The chances are little better than would be if the successful candidates were to be chosen by a lucky draw. Again, I won’t know. I always thought the odds were so bad that there was no point in appearing in any such exam. Oh and having never finished any ‘course’ that I started, I was also lacking the requisite formal educational qualifications for most government jobs.

What is wrong if 80 year old men and women philosophize that a dead person has gone to the abode of god or is ‘with god’ or some variation of that? So what if an octogenarian who is ill is reflecting that “it is all up to Him”?

May be it’s the grown up kids of the old, ill person who are praying. I don’t know why anyone would want their 70 or 80 year old parents to continue to live. I didn’t feel the need to pray when I got a sudden news about my father’s illness a few years ago. Perhaps I was 33 then. But I was always a contrarian as was my father and we had our differences of opinion and they were strong. So, it was easy for me to contemplate this particular example of a person’s utter non-existence and the finality of it.

People of India often say/write that they have ‘strong faith in God’ and often do that without context; perhaps as a core article of their being. I wonder what they mean about it. May be if you ask a million of them to explain their faith in god, you will get a million unique answers. Or perhaps the answers will be variations on a few themes. May be they’ve seen some evidence of god taking a personal interest in the affairs of their lives. Something ‘miraculous’ happened which could not have happened but for god! People of faith certainly believe in a very personal sort of god who takes interest in human affairs and looks over human affairs. People believe in souls and other stuff that survive their deaths. When the

Faith and belief systems arise within a given societal set-up. The folks who do the praying on different occasions presumably pray to the gods that they know of and not to the many gods that they don’t know of. So, if someone grew up without knowing anything about any of the gods, the idea of praying probably won’t occur to such a person.

Should we try to create a world without religions? Try to imagine one? Even if faith/religion provides many sorts of crutches to people who have faith? What if atheism creates millions of amoral Stalins and Hitlers?

Well, what about the fact that religions are false fairytales? Which persuade millions of people into having weird beliefs. About, say, the beneficial powers of cow urine. Or persuades many to believe that cows are worthy of worship.

And even if India were to somehow, miraculously, see the complete disappearance of the cow vigilantes, what about the Valentine’s vigilantes? What about that! Is that a religion-driven affair or nationalism-inspired activity.