I still prefer to believe that there’s a Reality, after all, beyond subjective interpretation. Note the use of the capital letter. The way I used to see the world, the phrase “prefer to believe” would not have crossed my lips, because I was less aware then of how much preference has to do with belief. One starts out preferring the beliefs one’s caregivers pass on. Many youths keep this up into adulthood, perhaps opening themselves to the sphere of influence of their like minded community. When and if they encounter a diversity of worldviews, some prefer to reject parental and community belief out of hand as a (false because reactionary) manifestation of individuation. Others set up defenses, with the aid of their close knit community, seeing other views in terms of falsehood or deception, and being open to them as a kind of disloyalty or apostasy (parents call it backsliding). Still others take the path of inquiry. This might be encouraged by “open-minded” or “liberal” companions. “Conservative” companions might oppose such inquiry, provide apologetic remedies, or simply let go on the “if you love someone let them go” principle: “If they come back to you, they are yours; if they do not, they never were.”
I believe in time, space, atoms, and biological and ecological rules and imperatives, and even something above all that and both superior, and, sadly, corruptible, resulting in detestable, shameful manifestations of human free will, and fates worse than death! that ended up rather shrill, and I’d better unpack it a bit, since on rereading I can barely make sense of it myself. Existence of laws of physics, on which are build laws of chemistry, biology, ecology, and, in some complex and mysterious way that no one is able to agree on, ethics. Encompassing both survival of the fittest (a truism and therefore incontestable) and altruism. Both love and violence. Fates worse than death. Now if you don’t understand, then please pretend that I am someone as smart as Locke or Heidegger, just too deep and ingenious to capture in words, even my own.
Had a very interesting conversation with a friend and former co-worker of my husband’s who was visiting for the day. It satisfied my desire to start listening to intelligent conservative voices, hear why, for example, they think Obamacare is bad, why global climate change might not be of human origin, that some Fox news shows have something valuable to say. Only dipped slightly into these topics, among others, but I had the pleasure of feeling that he had come to his conclusions with at least as much decent thinking and listening and research as I fell I have. And that he wasn’t blinded by fear or religious conservatism (he is Catholic, so I give him more leeway on that). Of course we listen to different shows and read different rags and choose our influences that way, but I couldn’t help but have the sense that I could learn something from him. For example, he gave me a short list of what is worth watching on Fox News. And he was honest about one thing: that his views were based on self interest (my husband, knowing him pointed out that that involved a good deal of compassion and service). Freedom of the individual and eschewing a victim mentality ewer his themes. I asked him a lot of questions, amny of them pointed, and he handled them well without giving any trite or simplistic answers.
Sometimes I feel like I’m on this nice little boat making a crossing, going from one port to another to see something knew, confident that my knowledge of the world will broaden greatly by seeing new sights. I have done some historical and environmental research to prepare. I also pay some attention to my foreground—the shape, design, and fittings on the boat, cloud formations, the calls and flight behavior of passing birds, if I’m lucky a dolphin or Orca. Then suddenly I realize that below this tiny ship, this little pod taking me from one patch on the skin of the world to another, is fathoms and fathoms of God knows what. The enormous ocean, mostly empty but for its molecular soup, is yet home to plankton, schools of fish and cephalopods, and below that bigger and more mysterious creatures, moving through and across the ever changing gradients. Moving back in time other wilder creatures and entities inhabit this ocean in past eons, and, how could one ever say one knows much at all, or can?
My small periodic resolutions to become a lay expert in some topic of interest are usually visited by such doubts, and I get overwhelmed. The idea of doing a master’s degree is attractive, because I do love to study, but in the half of my life that I have left, I would have to turn my back on the pursuit of the complete knowledge of everything that exists or has existed in one square meter of my back yard. I can’t do both.
To believe in reincarnation, however, is to have hope, to be released from this psychological immobilization, no? God, to be able to continue to learn life after life, and to trust that somehow only the most pure and deep and high truths will remain in the soul from one life to another, even if one must let go of the multiplication tables time after time! That is, assuming that the movement is toward the higher and not the lower (on average). And that’s why I prefer to believe in reincarnation.