It’s easy to live in a world of dogma. Follow the rules, follow the regulations. Just listen to the guy in front of you and everything will be okay. There’s no need to think for yourself if someone more qualified than you can just think of everything for you. And if anyone disagrees? Well, you don’t really need to defend your actions if you’re right.
It’s easy to live hedonistically. The only rule you need to follow is the one that says only do what will bring you pleasure. Psychological pleasure? Physical pleasure? Spiritual pleasure (however you define that)? Pick one, two, or even all. Just live how you want to live, and don’t you dare listen to anyone’s criticisms. At least you’ve thought through your decisions.
When I was watching the most recent episode of Amaama to Inazuma (Sweetness and Lightning), I was struggling with these two ideals and the eternal balancing act that every human being earnestly seeking answers will encounter.
Obviously those people who ascribe to the first school of thought above are those who simply cannot, or choose not to, think for themselves. Whether it is at home, at a job, or in their spiritual and moral struggles, life is simple when someone else dictates all the rules and makes all the hard decisions for you. Whether that’s a theist trusting some sort of god, or an atheist simply leaving everything up to collective human progress steering the ship of societal evolution (or perhaps complete chance for the particularly nihilistic atheist).
The second school of thought is born out of a pendulum reaction to the first. Blindly following rules, or “fate” as it were, removes any sense of human agency, or even a need for human will. We may as well be mindless automata. The individual will is the real measure of importance.
Of course those beginning in this second stage often swing to the first stage out of spite.
Every aware adult has done something wrong, and I have yet to discover a consistent belief system that can prove that statement otherwise. Some beliefs acknowledge this problem, and offer a method of escape from this broken world. Some beliefs acknowledge this problem, and offer to redeem this world by either divine or inevitably mortal intervention. Some beliefs acknowledge this problem but offer no solution at all. And some beliefs skirt the issue entirely by encouraging you to find your own unique way with which to deal with it.
I like to think that those who visit this blog consider themselves intellectuals to some degree. At the very least, I like to think that those who will read this article are searching for answers. As important as the studies of philosophy and theology and the more general journey for wisdom are for me and what I believe (and the human race as a whole, as humanity would have gotten nowhere if it were not for a healthy balance of faith in something and individual will and discernment) Amaama to Inazuma has a way of invading the tumultuous storms of thought clouding my mind and showing me what really matters.
Beneath the Tangles has never been about trying to “convince” people to Christianity. However, Beneath the Tangles has always been about finding Christianity in places you might never expect it… like in the words of an anime dad sitting next to a Japanese schoolgirl, hugging his adorable little daughter.
…You know. No matter what kind of [person] you are, Daddy loves you.
Speaking as someone who has gone through a period of deep depression, I know that one’s most “intellectual” moments can be one’s darkest. For me, it was the realization that, no matter where I was, what I was doing, or what I believed, there was Someone who was prepared to love me that enabled me to continue my search for truth. And so, as I remember those years of my own life, and as I continue to investigate and deepen my own beliefs, I encourage you to do the same with the assurance that no person, no situation, and no ideology can take that Someone away from you.
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