The Big Strange Party

She opens her eyes, not quite sure where she is, shocked to find herself at a strange party full of strange people. She's overwhelmed by the confusion and chokes up, with a conspicuous look of concern on her face. People whom she feels instinctively comfortable with approach her and assure her that it's all ok, that there is little to feel strange about, and that she should just grab some punch and hit the dance floor (which she does).

And there they are, dozens of intoxicated/semi-conscious partiers just partying away. It's a never ending party. It just goes on and on. Some drink too much, get sick and throw up. Others are fighting. Others are making out, and having a good time! Occasionally, some partiers take a break from the seemingly never-ending drinking and dancing, and huddle up to the side and ask each other if anyone knows whose party this is, what it's about, & why they came to it. The questions are pretty simple and reasonable, yet they can never seem to come up with coherent answers [perhaps too drunk to think straight]; but it doesn't matter because within minutes they're back on the dance floor, dancing away, as the hours pass on by.

Another group of partiers takes a break, and one asks the crowd if anyone knows of another party they could go to. No one is sure, but a poll oddly shows that a large percentage of these strange partiers believes that if you just get up and leave the party voluntarily, you'll end up in a terrible party; while if you are accidentally or unjustly kicked out of this party, then you will end up in a much cooler party.

Reality Check..

Over six and a half billion people on a damp dust ball floating in space, buzzing on with their lives. No one is quite sure what this place is, how they got here, why they are here, how long they will stay, or where they'll go afterward. Yet, they all go on living. Some are aggressive and like to harm others. Others are selfish and self-interested, and often manipulate the aggressive into fighting on their behalf. They wage wars with armies of thousands, killing millions, in the pursuit of their interests. Others are sweet, considerate, loving, caring, comforting; they often hold loved ones tight, kissing their foreheads and cheeks. Some organize the conscientious to stand up to the aggressive and selfish. Some are righteous but hyper-cautious; they never take what's not theirs, but will not involve themselves in another's tale of victimhood and aggression.

None of these people is inherently too different; some just had a little too much punch; some too little. Some were lucky enough to be in the vicinity of the really good punch bowl. Others were unfortunate to get irresistibly thirsty with only the drug-infected punch in sight.

Occasionally, a group of thoughtful life livers get together for a conversation about life, and ask if anyone knows what this world is about, how they got here, and why. The questions are pretty simple and reasonable, yet they can never seem to come up with coherent answers [perhaps constrained by the biological limits of the human brain?]; but it doesn't matter because within minutes they're back on the "dance floor," going to work, buying groceries, eating ice-cream, arguing with neighbors over parking, troubleshooting their computers; living on as the years pass on by. Sometimes they get together and ask what happens when life ends. Perhaps we just cease to exist? Not so, says the majority on this planet. They can't quite agree on what happens when you die; but one thing they are collectively certain of is that we don't just wither away from existence.

A group of bald men in robes say that we just start a new life all over again, in new bodies and with no recollection of our present lives. "Ridiculous, isn't it?" says a crowd of bearded men with strange hats. "What happens is that you go to heaven where life is utterly without suffering; a gift to you by an unconditionally loving God!" Um, pastor, should we then just kill ourselves and get there already? "Oh no, there is a trick: if you kill yourself, you go to hell, where you live a life of eternal suffering and torture. You're gonna have to wait until you die of disease, old age, accident, or willful aggression by another to get to go to heaven." Wait, eternal torture for the poor souls who were miserable enough to take their own lives? I guess God's love is only kind of unconditional (other exceptions from this profound mercy include people who honestly came about their doubts of any specific narrative of the afterlife--these outrageous transgressors have it coming!).

Six and a half billion people, buzzing on with their lives. They found themselves caught in a mystery they can't explain. They search for the wise among them, hoping someone can tell them what's going on. A group of priests, imams, rabbis, monks, and mullahs claim they know the mystery, that they've taken a spiritual peak behind the curtains. They admit they lack the evidence, but they make a virtue out of blind faith. They can't agree on anything (apart from that the admission of collective ignorance is not an option); yet they all claim blind faith in their particular account of the mystery to be a virtue. No matter which one you choose to believe, the overwhelming majority of the people on this planet will consider you misguided. If you simply admit not knowing, their conclusions won't change (each will wonder how you can't see what they see; yet they all see different things).

I could say much more, but I got stuff to do so perhaps another day. I gotta run to the grocery store, get some work done, meet up with some friends in the evening; then maybe get some punch and hit the dance floor, and let the days pass on by.