"Well you only need the light when it's burning lowOnly miss the sun when it starts to snowOnly know you love her when you let her go"
Let Her Go (2012) by Passenger
Today, we learned that the missing flight MH370 is assumed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean with no survivors. 17 days of a worldwide prayer campaign for the errant jetliner seemed to have failed to generate a miracle to reverse the accident that had happened 17 days ago. And the call to prayer was everywhere. Just this weekend, I went to the Borneo Highlands Resort with my wife and kid, and I noticed that they had erected a ceiling-scraping banner in the reception foyer for their guests to sign their prayers on for all the lost souls aboard MH370. The outdoor activities director there handed me a marker - expecting me to add to it - but I handed it back, saying politely that I don't pray. Suddenly, he was a lot less warm to me, as if I just told him that I don't breathe or that I don't see my own reflection whenever I look into a mirror.
It's like the other day when I saw a bumper sticker on a car in front of mine that told me, "Seven days without God makes one WEAK." This is the sort of every day discrimination I face as a non-believer. If I don't subscribe to the beliefs of the majority, I am an acceptable target of scorn and terrible puns.
When one receive such pricks on a daily basis, one tends to develop an equally prickly demeanour - and that can make me sound like an asshole on my best days. So, when I found out about the fate of MH370, I tweeted sarcastically: "So God ignored ALL your prayers for so many days? Sounds like a jerk. Or nonexistent. #MH370"
So God ignored ALL your prayers for so many days? Sounds like a jerk. Or nonexistent. #MH370 http://t.co/LckMmuqOAK
— Kok Sen Wai (@KokSenWai) March 24, 2014
I regretted it almost as soon as I clicked "Tweet" but I stopped short of outright deleting it. I dared write it, so I supposed it would be craven of me not to own it. I wanted to see if anyone would call me out on it.
Sure enough, within minutes, a colleague of mine wrote to me on Facebook. He said,
Classy Kok very classy.. Perhaps not the best time to argue the existence of god
I find myself agreeing with what he said. In fact, I found his words so apt that I "Liked" them. Then, I wrote this in reply,
Or perhaps it's the best time.
Everyone have gone through some sort of tragedy in their lives, as did you and I. In the period it took for this report to come out saying that none of the 239 passengers survived, 500,000 children have died in the world before their time. Where are their prayers? Where are their hashtags, signature-riddled banners and Facebook statuses? If 239 people dying in a day is not the best time to question the existence of God, then are you saying that I should just shut up forever because every day, far more that 239 people perish in untimely and tragic circumstances?
The world is filled with senseless suffering. In my last call [at the hospital], they brought in a woman who was sexually assaulted and no one cared because we hear the same story every day. Many more died in our wards all over the country in the seconds I took to write this. I recently talked to a 12 year old girl who was raped - was God watching it as it happened? Did God just look on as millions of children in the world continue to suffer in slave prostitution rings while He makes a note to self to punish their pimps in hell LATER?
I couldn't find peace with all of these until I finally let go of my delusion that there is some sort of impossible father figure who takes care of things - that bad things just happen and there's really no greater meaning than that. I see many people on Facebook offer their form of condolences, in prayers, in "they are in a better place now" wishes. That's their prerogative and I left them to it. But have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe, some people need the sort of solace I found in accepting the chaos of life, that no one upstairs is responsible for their pain?
Because what are all their prayers if not arguments and assertions of the existence of God themselves? Is that classy? Are the loved ones of those aboard MH370 all believers?
Why don't you go on their prayer statuses instead, in their promises of an afterlife, and tell them "Classy, very classy. Perhaps not the best time to argue [for] the existence of god"?
There's really nothing more I can add to this.
Kind of a jerk,
k0k s3n w4i