When I die, I will have only three questions for God:
- Why did I get the family I had;
- Why have I taken so long to overcome that breakup;
- Why do we have to spend so much time working down here, I mean literally 80% of our lives?
Or maybe God will have these questions for me.
Well, at the Gates of Heaven, Stephen Fry would have others, as we know: “I’d say ‘Bone cancer in children, what’s that about?’ How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”
If I was God, I would answer: “Oh boy, I just gave you and all the forms of life the possibility of existing and co-existing. You tell me: why did you guys fuck it all up? You tell me about starvation in Africa, you tell me about injustice when all I gave you was a world full of potential to share and live in harmony”.
But it’s ok. I totally understand Fry’s questions and anger. I remember 4 years ago when I watched the documentary, his words only caused me total understanding and compassion. Fry suffers from depression. The documentary was filmed in 2009, and what surprises me now, 8 years later, is not the fact that Ireland is facing some awkward modern middle ages, to say the least, with blasphemy accusations against Fry. What impresses me most is that someone really took the time to walk to the Garda Station to make a formal complaint about someone else’s imaginary conversation with God. I mean: an IMAGINARY conversation!!! What impresses me most is that whoever was capable of spending time and energy to walk personally to the Garda Station in order to make that complaint against Fry didn’t find the time to really listen to his words.
I have a friend who had depression for a long time. He tried a lot of different “solutions”. One day, he was brought to a guy who used to channel spirit and such. While he was waiting in the kitchen of that very, very simple house, the house’s owner, a very humble Christian lady, showing the most sophisticated heart that she couldn’t even imagine, told him: “It’s ok if you don’t believe in God. It’s ok if you’re pissed off with him. When we are sad, we really can’t believe in God, or if we believe in him, we hate him, and he knows that, and he doesn’t care”. That woman, with all the simplicity of her being, had the most sophisticated feelings of compassion. She made my friend feel seen and understood.
Whether God exists or not, it doesn’t really matter. It can happen also if you are a believer: was there ever a day in which you felt totally alone? Alone not at home, but in the universe? Did you ever feel totally abandoned and deserted by whoever put you here in the first place? Did you ever feel there was no one up there watching you and no one to be sorry for your misfortunes? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by loss and grief that you barely could breathe?
In 1972, Gilbert O’Sullivan, an Irish singer (you see!) would release the classic Alone Again (Naturally), a beautiful melancholic statement of loss, grief, and doubt. Of course, O’Sullivan would have been burned if the song had been written a few centuries ago. He only sang the same old agony of seeing so much pain around and feeling deserted by God. And ironically, when the song was an extreme hit, it was clear that it represented the collective unconscious, and for people then being able of acknowledging that agony in others, they would connect and feel less lonely, less abandoned. They would no longer feel alone in feeling alone.
It seems natural that we are here alone, abandoned, but even more when we are unable of connection, unable of being seen and understood. When that woman in the kitchen told my friend that it’s ok not to believe in God since my friend was so sad and desperate, he immediately felt God existed because that woman was there giving him love and compassion. He believed in God again, because he saw God in that woman.
If you want to make someone believing in God, what do you do? Do you put your jacket on and walk down to the Garda Station to formalize a complaint about someone’s sad thoughts about God? Like “that’ll teach you! See you in the church next Sunday”. Or, that’s where my theory speaks: what if the one who made the complaint was himself so isolated of human (and God) connection to the point of feeling alone in his faith? Another one, alone again naturally, for when you feel really connected to God, whatever type you believe in, you are in peace with others, no matter what they think or say.
I feel sorry imagining that guy at the Garda Station’s waiting room, looking forward to complaining about Fry’s connection to God as if that was possible to heal his own connection. I picture this guy, exactly like my friend has waited for the channeling guy in that kitchen, with the same hope of being able of ending the feeling of separation between himself and the others. Sometimes, when we don’t know what to do, we do the worst we can. It’s amazing how we are always mirroring on others what we have inside, isn’t it? For you, who made your way to the Garda Station to make a complaint, I send my love and compassion.