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February 20, 2010

Unsavoury Thoughts

Filed under: General — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 5:30 am

As an Orthodox Christian I’m directed to “focus on God, move towards God, and be like God” in everything that I do. As a human being however, I continue to fail miserably as an Orthodox Christian.

Blessed with the genetics of Cretan pirates and dollops of PTSD drawn from far too many near death experiences, I find my attempts to reach for sainthood hobbled by thoughts of pummeling the evil I encounter in humanity. Sure, one might argue, doing away with evil can’t be such a bad thing, but these thoughts often involve the “ripping apart” limb by limb of individuals who carry out these evil acts. Somehow I don’t think this approach follows the ways of a loving God – at least not the examples that Christ left us.

As I struggle with these things on a daily basis, finding some days worse than others, the passions created by both my genetics and my experiences taunt me to hit out at those without a conscience (even though I have never physically hit anyone in my life). Fortunately, these thoughts are countered by one’s training in the Faith which teaches us to turn the other cheek (in a literal sense), and that it is God’s domain to address the wrongs that others have done unto us. Religious morality is also supported psychologically by social inhibitions that hold unsavoury thoughts in check as well as one’s possession of an ethical “free will” that continues in its determination to do no harm to others. As always it’s about one’s checks and balances – things that have allowed us to develop into functional societies, at least up until now.

The only comfort I draw from this personal struggle is that humanity as a whole suffers from this dichotomy of thought and inner conflict as well. The best example of this is how most civilised society’s espouse peace yet almost always maintain well armed defence forces.

I suppose it is part of our religious/spiritual nature to try and follow in the footsteps of our peacemakers – hoping that our enemies will leave us alone. As a biological species however, we continue to reserve the right to use big sticks to hit the bad guys over the head, especially when we fear losing ground to them while adhering to a philosophical pacifist approach.

Unfortunately, there’s an ongoing ethical dilemma to this situation and that is, if we choose to pick up the retribution stick we in turn become the bad guys. So much for sainthood – I therefore continue to be the unworthy and pitifully hopeless servant of God, even as I turn 43!

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2010

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