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Without Enthusiasm, What is There?

By Carl S ~

About those 24-hr. news channels. My wife watches them every day. I used to, especially during election seasons, until they stretched out for 18 months. What was once enthusiasm faded to interest, then disappointment, and now those channels are annoying. Time to move on. It's a madhouse out there now, more aggravating than entertaining. News commentators talk every subject to death. Wouldn't it be cool to have a regular series on TLC, The Learning Channel, about atheist families? It's the channel viewers go to to learn about lives they pretend not to care about. It's the perfect place for the evangelical prudes to indulge, without each others' knowing, their curiosity about the godless they condemn. But that's not all. I'm seriously thinking about quitting my commentaries; there's neither interest nor enthusiasm, and I put a lot of labor into them. Maybe move on to something different, somewhere?

Interests and enthusiasms make life worthwhile. When people are “trying to find” themselves, they're really looking for the interests that define themselves, which they've lost or put on the back burner for the interests of others. So, interests and enthusiasms are selfish in the way being oneself is selfish. When they're vibrant, life is also. Without them, things are pretty dull; life is contingent on having enough energy to keep it being interesting. My relatives knew this until their dying days. They went down, as is said of daredevils of the sky, “the way they wanted to.”

The last time I saw my mother was in Ohio. She was 85 years old at the time, visiting with my older brother and his wife. This was a day before she flew back to Arizona. I said, “See you next year,” and she told me that No, she was “Tired of living and I want to be with my husband in heaven.” My mom was always a positive person, tough in business dealings, tender and defensive for her kids, and flexible as hell about their life choices, no matter how “wrong” others thought they might be. But that day she let me know her fading loss of sight and taste, combined with a life she pretty much lived as she wanted to, was ready to be put away for good. Now, she has been gone for many years, along with my brother and his wife. My sister was like her mother, but she also reached that point where she said, almost every time I'd write or talk to her, “I'm tired and I want to die.” When enthusiasm isn't in the picture, time to hang things up and mellow away, yes?

My sister once got so carried away by a radio evangelical preacher that she left her seven kids behind and took a bus so she could run away with him. (He sent her home.) It gets me to thinking about something. I wonder if it's the personalities of these preachers that draw believers to be enthusiastic, and not their God or Jesus, as they claim. It's not inconceivable these preachers with their TV, radio, and mega church audiences, can be the equivalents of rock stars, movie, and television celebrity idols.

Everybody should have enthusiasm. But, as one writer noted, educational systems (religion system included), try to squelch the natural-born enthusiastic instincts of children. A Montessori educational system encourages children to develop their natural interests and enthusiasms. Such killjoys, such wet blankets! We encourage our kids to question, to use their interests for discovering how the real world works. Religious institutions exploit them to be channeled into dogmatic brainwashing. The trusting child does not question motivation. The child doesn't know what “perversion of reality” means. (Come on, how insane can a claim be: washing your clothes in blood can make them white as snow?) Think of how much progress humanity could have made without religious systems sapping the curiosity we're all born with. And can you imagine trial-and-error progress without blasphemous and obscene words? Never would happen. Only the topmost worker in a gothic cathedral could get away with that, and only by muttering to himself. But curse he did, ergo... progress. Every male knows this.

Everybody should have enthusiasm. But, as one writer noted, educational systems (religion system included), try to squelch the natural-born enthusiastic instincts of children.Governments, religions, and other institutions around the world keep trying to suppress and censor free speech and civil rights, curbing or denying enthusiasm. They want us to believe we have purposes to our lives, as long as they suit their purposes. But we're human; our enthusiasm is often at cross-purposes with their desires to control us. The bastards are pushing to make our sexual decisions for us, even forcing legislation to deny us the right to control how we choose to leave this life, for chrissakes! They'd rather have us tortured to death by whatever will inevitably end our lives and/or the hopeless medical intervention we don't want. Let it be noted: One enthusiastic purpose I have to my life is to destroy clerical power; just the opposite of what that “purpose driven life” religion wants.

The way I see it, Christian clergy and you and I take our references from the 12 o'clock hour. It's just that theirs is 12 a.m., and ours is 12 p.m. Growing up in a religion enclosure is a world of its own. The Christian religion tells us our lives begin in the darkness of midnight, and progresses to the sunrise of our own Easter. They preach that death is just the beginning of the only life that counts, since mortal life pales in comparison to it. That's perverse. When religious lives are lived under the dark filtered-by-faith-glass, we are told to grope in blind trust, to follow the leader in darkness through life's unexpected trials and tribulations. Hell, any cult has the same spiel.

If you are one of the 12 p.m. children, on the other hand, you begin living life in the clear light of day, seeing and discovering, interested, enthusing, through thick and thin. Life is a buffet, not a place where you must, under threat of punishment, deprive yourself of its opportunities, its pork, beef, and beverages, and sexual pleasures. Your life's purpose is your own, it isn't a lifelong battle waged to settle a religion's desire for revenge or for conquest. After years of living in all life offers, you get weary, tire out, and then you can go to your acceptable final rest, in peace. You’ve had your time singing in the sunshine, laughing in the rain, of splendor in the grass, and it's time to say “Good night, world.” Interesting, isn't it?


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