Right around that time my polar opposite sweet, quiet friend Maja, met some American college students and wanted to introduce me to them. They were spending the summer in Yugoslavia hoping to meet as many as possible college students from our country who would like to make friends with them, practice their English, and learn about each other’s culture, religion and word view. I jumped at the opportunity to practice English and make friends. Americans were well-loved and admired at the time. Meeting them in person was quite a privilege. Talking about religion, however, was certainly not my view of having fun. But, I was willing to put up with it, knowing that the subject is so ridiculously irrelevant that it wouldn't take too much of our time. I was wrong. Our conversation kept going back to the discussions about existence of God, creation and human need for meaning and significance.
We can create meaning and significance in our own selves. I protested. We don’t need God to live meaningful and significant lives. Religion is an opiate for the masses, I quoted Karl Marx, the prophet of communism. It’s for old, uneducated people who couldn't explain natural occurrences we now understand through science. In the evolutionary development, we have outgrown the need for religion. It’s a matter of the past.
The young Americans listened to my anti-religious sermons politely. They were all intelligent, capable, educated men and women, with the resources and opportunities that certainly at least met if not exceeded those afforded to me in the mid-eighties in the Balkans. I couldn't understand their insistence on the importance and value of religion, which they explained as ‘personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ’. Even though every word in that expression was known to me, when strung together in this order, I couldn't make sense of them at all. Finally, I concluded that this religious blabber is just a part of their culture and tradition. Everyone is a Christian in
America. My friends shook their heads, finding further
human reasoning quite hopeless, and assured me of their continued prayers.
Whatever. I shrugged their words off. You may believe in God, I never will. We said our good byes and forever (or so I thought) parted our ways.
I knew who I was. I knew what I believed. Most importantly, I didn't need God. I didn't need a crutch. I didn't need opium. With hard work and determination, I could climb any mountain. I could do it on my own. I can be my own god.
Ah, the arrogance of the ignorant.
Ah, the ignorance of the arrogant.
How little we know.
How little we understand.