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 desire. What we think about is either safe or not safe. Sometimes it is in between. We gravitate toward those places and thoughts that make us feel safe and we do our best to avoid the discomfort of little or no security.
Many ideas have come to us from our parents and those we respect. These ideas become “grafted” into our unconscious. Assumptions about these truths are made and we 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 were told. That is, until someone, perhaps an older sibling said there was no Santa Claus. That revealing statement became a troubling thought in our minds. At first, we denied it. Couldn’t be. No, Mom and Dad would not tell a lie. But then little things began to gnaw 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 that best fit their belief systems, one begins to wonder if a universal truth exists. There is no doubt that many believe a universal truth to be true but proof is very difficult to produce. There is no proof. 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 would be Islamic, and if I was born in Thailand I would probably be convinced that 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. People are in danger of losing their reputation or life over a belief that they might be considered an atheist or unbeliever. Many pin their hopes on religion to assist them through some of the darkest things people experience. It doesn’t matter where their hope comes from it just matters that they are given something to believe. If you don’t believe as others do some begin to crush those ideas and exclude them from being part of the group. One can feel secure while observing most everyone else believing as they do while those who believe otherwise are made to feel outside the group. It is as if the person who does not believe as others do is made to pay for their independent thinking. Serious questions are raised that cause others to feel insecure. Better to shut down those who question the “truth” than to find cogent arguments to preserve a way of living no matter how little proof exists. As a result, one feels secure because the person who has legitimate questions is thought to have been vanquished. No proof, only a need to find security. Don’t prove me wrong, don’t even question. After all, if you have faith you have all you need. Or, do you?