At birth we are thrown, in media res, into the midst of this something that suddenly exists between the two extremes of nothingness, this great tragedy, for indeed it is a tragedy, a tragedy in which everything, even ourselves, even the universe itself, this whole arena in which this tragedy is acted out until its bitter end, eventually dies.
At birth we are both unprepared and without direction. We have no idea of any expected role we must play in this soap opera called Life. We suddenly find ourselves thrust into an ongoing drama, and we soon, through mishap and instruction, learn of its history, its rules, its ethics, morality, duty and its punishments. At some point between birth and death we must discover our place and significance among the legends that went before us and those that are yet to come.
However, even though we listen, learn and often, without reason, (the piranhas of religion devour reason!), worship the beautiful philosophies of such idols in this drama of life, we must understand that these are only hypotheses. Without exception, before we learn to trust, accept, believe or distrust, reject and disbelieve everything we are taught, we must examine the meaning and implications of each premise in turn.
Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living, and indeed life cannot be worth living unless we examine every philosophical theory put before us, every political statement, every religious instruction, every expected duty to perform, and every indictment of our chosen path and personal ideal. Even if each road of enquiry leads us only to the absurd dead-ends of self-contradiction, falsehood, implausibility or anomaly; even if, at the end of thorough investigation, we are left with the existential supposition that there is no meaning to life at all, we still must satisfy our own curiosity, and discover for ourselves our own truths. The truth for me is not necessarily the truth for you. The truth for me is only the truth for me and I have no idea whatsoever, and neither can I discover, if the truth for me is also the truth for someone else.
If a child is told by his teacher to always use the green door and to never, at any cost, open the red door; that he once opened the red door and found himself in a terrifying place, a godless world in which he was consumed by the negative emotions of alienation, abandonment, self-doubt, angst and despair; it is almost a brute fact that the child will eventually open the red door in order to satisfy his own curiosity.
Nevertheless, this is not to be seen as a foolish act. It is a necessary act. By only ever living a life within the limitations of the accepted world, the world that exists behind the green door, we are subjugating ourselves to a life of servitude in a world designed by those whose own truths it benefits.
For example, the multi-fractured monotheistic religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity expect each of us to follow a path laid out by its own ethics, morality and beliefs and threaten us with the revenge of God should we err along a different path of our own choosing. Every religious and nationalistic based governmental state, the world over, expects its nationals to abide by its own political demands, and explicit Utopian delusions. They control the individual with the self-beneficial rules of law and duty, even force these individuals into unlawful wars, coerce them to kill fellow human beings, yet paradoxically punish them with imprisonment, torture, and even the sentence of death, should they decide to turn their backs in conscientious objection, or fight back, rebel and use violence in defence against such despotic ideals. In almost every political act of atrocity this earth has ever witnessed, a particular God’s decree is cited as justification. As the Roman poet and philosopher, Lucretius wrote in the 1st century BC: “…such are the heights of wickedness to which men are driven by religion. ”
When I was at school, I once asked the Padre, our teacher of (non-optional) religious education, what would happen if I told him he was an idiot, his ideals ridiculous and his religion a crock of shit? He answered I would be punished. I then asked him what would happen if I just thought he was an idiot, his ideals ridiculous and his religion a crock of shit? He replied that he could not punish me for my thoughts. I said, well I think you are an idiot, your ideals ridiculous and your religion a crock of shit! I was of course, sent to, and punished by, the Headmaster. (I was forced to write out, one hundred times, the Oxford English dictionary’s definition of blasphemy. Religulous indeed!) Even as a teenager, I understood the inflexible hypocrisy of religion and political might.
In order that we keep from falling into these malicious traps of acceptance, this subjugation of our own selves, this suppression of freedom of speech, we must all, as individuals, open every red door we discover. We must examine the multitude of questions pertinent to our own personal understanding of life. We must ask ourselves even the ultimate questions such as: Is there any meaning to life? Is life worth living at all? Is this a test, a trial, a means by which to judge my worth in the overall scheme of things? Or is it merely an accident, a charade, a trick of science? We must ask these questions without the manipulation of outside influence. Our minds must be freed of any bias that we are able to discover for ourselves the truth, or what we believe for ourselves to be the truth.
If we use Edvard Munch’s iconic work of art, The Scream, as a metaphor for life, the bridge becomes the hitherto expected path of that life. It becomes the bridge on which we suddenly find ourselves thrust in the midst of, and is individual, and relevant only, to each of us in turn. It becomes a personal road which spans the two extremes of nothingness, a bridge on which, somewhere along our journey from birth to death, we must stop, refuse to follow those that went before, discover our own truths, and scream them out loud!
The truth for me is that I am here, whatever here is, I am stuck here for the duration of my life, and that, for that duration, I would rather speak out in defiance against the faith, duty, rules and punishments inflicted on me by a society knee-deep in dogma-shit, than be eaten alive by the piranhas of religion.