25 November, 2002

An Interview

So there I am, reading racist periodical literature on the couch in Carpe Diem, when I overhear two people meeting for the first time at the table beside me. 

One of them is a reporter for some paper that I hope is obscure (if not, then the public is really in trouble), and the other is a seemingly nice enough guy. The interviewee was dressed well enough, was articulate, drank tea, and had good manners. The interviewer reminded me of the typical interviewer stereotype you commonly see on TV. 

After their introductions, the interviewer went straight to business. His first question:
"Okay, so tell me about what it's like to be dead." 

It is this opening question that piqued my interest; I immediately turned the majority of my attention from the article on reparations I was reading to the interview going on next to me. 

"Well, first of all, I didn't know I was dead at the time. I thought I was still alive." 

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I mean, it isn't everyday that you overhear an interview, let alone one on a subject such as this. 

"God spoke to me, but I didn't know it was God. I just thought it was some guy." 

I actually had to refrain myself from laughing aloud. I don't mean to be prejudiced versus people with questionable beliefs; after all, I believe in true love, so how am I any different? But still, you have to imagine yourself in the same situation. 

But I think that what I overheard earlier today signifies more than what it seems at first. Today, as I recoiled at the thought that this guy really does believe all this stuff, I had to stop myself and ask: Am I fully understanding what this man thinks? 

I mean, what if he really and truly believes in what he's saying? Not just that he believes -- I mean he really believes. 

I mean, I can understand Gandhi. Even when he fasted, he did so for a purpose. And what he did worked, didn't it? You can't argue with results. I think I could make an argument for Gandhi being a closet atheist. It's not unthinkable. 

But this man... This interviewee I was overhearing... He struck a chord with me. Yeah, maybe he's just making all this up for the sake of getting his name in a (hopefully) obscure paper. But what if there existed another like him that truly believed this stuff and yet did not tell anyone? What if they believed simply because they believed? 

In other words, I asked myself the question: What is belief? 

I say I believe in true love, but what do I really mean? After all, I doubt the true existence of free love. So I don't really believe.
My friend Michael said to me today that during his yearly visit to a church, he recites the same ritualistic responses that most every Catholic does weekly, simply because he has always gone to Catholic schools. He doesn't really believe in what he says, though.
Even the office of the Pope has tried to make religion more mainstream by getting rid of the ridiculous hats worn by nuns and accepting evolution and the like as the truth. Even the Vatican doesn't truly believe. 

But that doesn't mean true belief cannot exist. And today is the first day I ever fully had this notion. Before today, I could not conceive of the idea of true belief. But now... 

...Now I can imagine the existence of a person who believes in nonsense just as much as I believe in logic. 

And that scares me.

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