For some time I have observed security to be described in terms of either black or white. Feeling safe is a right most contend they have been given while feeling unsafe is a threat few would desire. What we think about is either safe or not safe. Often it is in between. We gravitate toward those places and thoughts that make us feel safe and do our best to avoid the discomfort of little or no security.
Many ideas about the world come to us from our parents and those we respect. These ideas become “grafted” into our unconscious. We make assumptions about these truths and live, for a time, without questioning them. The existence of Santa Claus and his reindeer are one of the first “facts” we are told. And, for most of us, that reality was as sure as anything else we have ever been told. That is, until someone, perhaps an older sibling, said there was no Santa Claus. That revealing statement became a troubling thought. At first, we denied it. Couldn’t be. No, Mom and Dad would not tell a lie. But then little things gnawed at our suspicions causing them to open like a festering wound that would not heal. The truth was unwelcome and inconvenient.
Truth works like that especially when a respected person, usually a parent, shares the “truth” with you. It becomes very difficult to give up the “truth” when it comes from such high authority as an all-knowing and invincible parent. Giving up Santa is like giving up a parent, a very difficult proposition.
Given the fact that other cultures have alternative Santa Claus figures best fitting their belief systems, one begins to wonder if a universal truth exists. There is no doubt that many believe in a universal truth but proof is difficult to produce. One accepts Santa Claus stories on faith since the persons promoting the idea have a credible role as parent or adult.
If I were born in Utah chances are I would be a Mormon. If I was raised in Egypt I might be Islamic, and if I was born in Thailand I would probably be convinced Buddhism was my religious identity. Much of our religious identity has to do with where we were born and to whom we were born.
So, when someone questions religious identities people begin to feel insecure. Their protection and security is threatened. People fear there might be a mistake and so to protect their beliefs they tend to lash out in defense. Some religions will even threaten anyone who believes differently. Some even threaten death. Some are in danger of losing their reputation or even their life over a belief system as an agnostic, atheist or unbeliever. It is true that many pin their hopes on religion to assist them through some of the darkest people experiences. It doesn’t matter where their hope comes from it just matters that they are given something to believe. If one doesn’t believe as the predominating culture does those threatening ideas are subject to being crushed and the person is excluded from the group. The person who does not believe as others do is made to pay for independent thinking.
Is it better to shut down those who question the “truth” than to find cogent arguments to preserve a way of living? One can feel secure because the person who has questioned a belief system is presumed to have been intellectually and spiritually vanquished. After all, if you have faith you have all you need. Or, do you?