The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Month: July 2006

A Stirring of Memories

This last weekend I went to my High School reunion.

When I first planned on attending, I stopped at some point, I could not tell you when, and asked myself why I was going. The question itself sort of surprised me, as occasionally happens when I challenge my own thought process. So I delved into the reason by not looking at the reunion, but looking back… At High School.

I went to South High School in Bakersfield California. I started in 1982 and finished that sentence off in 1986. I was not a great student; frankly I was a very poor student, but not because I was dumb, High School bored me to tears, and except for a very few people, I got along with no one.

In fact, I would be willing to lay odds on the possibility that it is as a result of South High that I developed, and later overcame, a fear of confrontation. High school was all about confrontation, every day. I was not a popular person, nor was I very outgoing or part of one of the many cliques that form in high school.

I was part of the Computer Nerd clique… This was neither the favored nor popular clique and immediately opened any member up to potential assault by others. I can even recall a couple occasions that a person or two that I new, and had gotten along with before high school, would come over and talk to me, usually in the library or class, but would immediately end the conversation as soon as their friends came by or showed up. This duality taught me much more than some of my classes did about people, and I still carry that lesson with me to this day.

I cannot say that I entirely disliked high school, though. My favorite parts of school were my science classes and most of the teachers I had throughout school. Teachers that made the biggest impression on my life were people like Mrs. Prior, Mr. Peck, Mr. Stricker, Mr. Wright, Mr. Gates, Mrs. Porter and Mrs. Sullivan. Some of these teachers are no longer with us, but this is a result of the passage of time. Their legacy lives on, and will continue to do so, through their students. We will carry a part of them with us no matter what we do in life, and that will, in turn, affect others.

I also cannot say that I did not have friends in high school. I had several friends, and this includes the ones that would not admit they were my friends in front of their friends. My true friends, are the ones that are still with me today. The ones that, even though I have done some stupid things in life, and a few things that really tested the strength of the friendship, are still my friends today, and I would even go so far as to say that they are family.

So… Why did I want to go to my reunion? I am not sure. Maybe it was for revenge, to show everyone that I was not the screw up that they expected… Maybe it was in the hopes to see a lost object of my desires, or maybe to quell some hidden demons that needed to be exercised so that my life would be fuller.

No… I think it was none of these. What I think it was, was the effort to reach back and make contact with people that I knew from my childhood and adolescence in the hopes that I would recapture the parts of my childhood that I had forgotten about. To see people that I grew up with, both friend and foe, and see that in the end, we were all really running the same race, and no one of us was better than the other. To see that, when all was said and done, we were all just kids learning how to be, and what to be.

I went to my reunion feeling nervous, worried that I would still be the outcast that I was in high school, I left feeling that I was no different that anyone else in there. Yes, there were people that had traveled more, seen more and made more money than I had, but is that really the point? No… We all still had the same concerns and worries… fears and desires. We had all lost things and gained things… We have all grown up.

How is religion helping us?

Religion.

I look around, especially these days, and I have to ask… How is religion helping us?

Yes… I know that there are just as many ideas about the Historic, Geopolitical and ideological notions about religion as there are people that follow the many different flavors that are out there. But the question stands… How is it helping us?

Personally I see religion as a powerful tool. It has the power to shape nations, control people and cultures, destroy civilizations, shape law, destroy law, and a host of other negative things. Religion, as a whole, is responsible for more death and destruction throughout the course of human evolution that any other human creation.

Now that you are probably thinking that I am a anti-religious freak… Let me continue.

Religion also has the power of great good. It has the ability to guide people from nothing to greatness, to lift the sad and lonely to happiness and prosperity. Again, I could go on and on.

But is it REALLY about the religion itself, or just that the potentials of a person whom otherwise would have no direction can be shown clarity through a belief such as a religion. That a person can use their faith, no matter what that faith may be, as a lens to focus their good intentions on others? Could it be that anyone that TRULY practices, with all their heart, can use religion as their catalyst to carry out their desires?

Religion is truly an enigma, in my minds eye. While I am not a very religious person, I see the good and the bad that it can do, and I respect both immensely. Likewise I respect those that do follow with all their heart and use that for the good. Likewise, I also respect those that use their religious presence for the bad. By respect, I mean in the same way that people respected Hitler’s ability to do evil and Norman Mailers ability to blow his ego out of proportion.

With everything that is going on in the world today, I have to think back on a line from a movie… I cannot recall the name of the movie right now, but I remember the line. “We are capable of such great beauty and such incredible destruction… ” We have an escalation in fighting in the mid-east that we have not seen in many years. We are very close to seeing a war between Korea and Japan, add to that that there are several nuclear missiles from the former Soviet Union that are not accounted for. To quote a line from one of my favorite plays: “No one can deny that these are very difficult and dangerous times.”

Do I think that theses are the ever-so-prophecized “End of Times”. Yes… but only if we let it. Unfortunately, as with most religiously based wars, there may not be an easy end to it. Would the destruction of Jerusalem end these wars, since that is the focal point of many prophecies? What about the fall of Israel? Maybe the start of an all out nuclear exchange? Who can say… Maybe none of them are right, maybe they all are… but I think that truth be told, there is no one that seems to be truly willing to find out… and let’s hope it stays that way.

Then again… Would we be better off if there was no religion at all… nothing to act as just another way to divide us into separate groups. Maybe John Lennon was onto something with his song “Imagine”. Then again… who knows. I am merely a passenger on this boat… just like the rest of us. As such, we really should watch how hard we rock the boat… there is nowhere to swim to if we fall off.

How is religion helping us? It has the potential of helping all of us or none of us. It is what we want it to be and what we make of it. I think, once again, of a fitting quote by the great philosopher George Carlin: “Religion is like a shoe that fits you just right. Your shoe might not fit me,l so do not force me to wear it and I will not push mine on you.” I will as one thing to that. Will people please stop beating each other with their shoes!!!

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