I received the following in my corporate e-mail today:
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered
Forgive them anyway
If you are kind, people accuse you of selfish ulterior motives
Be Kind anyway
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies
If you find serenity and happiness, there may be jealousy
Be Happy anyway
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow
Do Good anyway
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough
Give the World the best you’ve got anyway
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God
It was never between You and Them anyway.
This wasn’t random spam. It was sent, to the entire company, by a Senior VP. It’s a beautiful poem, but whoever wrote the final lines, doesn’t have a solid grasp on the first line. They’ve completely ruined great sentiments by adding the concept of a God and an appeal to eventual, cosmic rewards for good deeds.
In the final sentence, replace the word ‘God’ with; Zeus, Jehova, ‘Whatever higher power you believe in, if any’, Magical Sky Pixies or Flying Spaghetti Monster and you’ll begin to see how absurd this really is.
If I had sent out this poem (to the entire company) with the last two lines replaced with; “Do good for its own sake — and not because you want a ‘gold star’ from some deity”, I would probably be writing my resume now, instead of a blog post.
If, instead, it had ended with “Do good for its own sake — do it because it makes you happy. Happiness is its own reward.” The poem would have been motivational, true and apart from a little sappy, who could really object?
Why is it so hard for people to see that appeals to a diety only serve to diminish the value of everything?
A flower can be appreciated for its own, natural beauty. To marvel at how wonderful ‘God’ is to have created a beautiful flower is completely backward. An omnipotent God could create beauty we could scarcely imagine; a flower so beautiful that gazing upon it sent one into euphoric fits. Flowers are beautiful, but they’re not miraculous.
If there’s an afterlife, isn’t this life just a place to wipe your feet until you get to the “real” life? Doesn’t the absence of a deity make this life infinitely more valuable? If there’s no cosmic justice, doesn’t that only encourage us to treat each other well, right now?
Let’s celebrate life. Let’s celebrate variety, diversity, knowledge, compassion, cooperation, good works, exploration, achievement and discovery.
No gods required.