The question of what to believe and what to believe in has plagued humans since consciousness seeped into our thick skulls and we uttered our first Why? So many ways to explain what happens, what matters, and how things are related: Science, sorcery, nature, love, revenge, big bangs, money, freedom, justice, magic, self, country, and a wide variety of gurus, presidents, and Gods; it boggles the evolved mind.
When things don’t go our way, we also ask Why not? We assign culpability for painful, scary, disappointing events. Awful things must be someone’s fault: the failings of the various Gods, the devil’s doing, the stupidity of our fellow humans. It’s comforting to blame.
But such attributions are simplistic and often wrong. Absolutes are always nuanced. We naively pit cause and effect against chance because for a species of meaning-makers, meaninglessness is terrifying.
“Yes,” God agrees cheerfully. “It’s astonishing what humans think up to believe in. Accepting meaninglessness, ever-evolving truth, or limited comprehension is tough.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” I ask.
Recently, I had a brief encounter with a bona fide Doomsday Prepper. Talk about meaning-makers! Preppers believe fervently that a specific global disaster is imminent, and they enjoy actively preparing for it, honing their skills to endure against the odds, spinning conspiracy theories late into the night.
They hoard food, toilet paper, and usually, weapons. They have generators, animals, flour grinders, and secret stashes of who knows what else. If they are rich, they are building biodomes where they can live once the rest of the earth is uninhabitable.
Generally, they’ve formed God in their own image. This God wants them to have supplies and ammunition. This God wants them ready. This God wants them to survive.
“That’s so sad,” God says. “So isolating. Devastation around every corner. Enemies on every horizon.”
“I know,” I agree. “And it’s likely self-fulfilling.”
“Maybe,” God says. “But what matters is who you’re prepping to share with and who you’re prepping to kill.”
My heart sinks. “Well, that’s easy. We share with those who are like us and kill those who are not. And we kill anyone who threatens our loved ones or our supplies.”
God nods. “It takes an enormous amount of prepping to be ready to love your enemies.”
“I don’t even know what that means,” I snap, crossing my arms.
“Oh, I think you do,” God says patiently.
“Nice chatting,” I say, backing away. “But I have things to take care of.”
“Going to order another crate of toilet paper?” God asks with a grin.
“Yes,” I admit. “But I’m planning to share the outhouse with anyone who needs it.”