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The Big Strange Party

By Omar Baddar
June, 2008


She suddenly opens her eyes, not quite sure where she is, and is shocked to find herself at a strange party full of strange people. She's overwhelmed by the confusion and chokes up. There is a conspicuous look of concern on her face. People whom she feels instinctively comfortable with approach her and assure her that it's all ok, that there is little to feel strange about, and that she should just grab some punch and hit the dance floor (which she does). And there they are, dozens of intoxicated/semi-conscious party peeps just partying away. It's a never ending party. It just goes on and on. Some drink too much, get sick and throw up. Others are fighting. Others are making out, and having a damn good time! The hours pass on by, and people continue to dance! Occasionally, a group of party goers decide to take a break from the drinking and dancing, and they huddle up to the side and ask each other if anyone knows whose party this is, what it's about, & why they came to it. The questions are pretty simple and reasonable, yet they can never seem to come up with coherent answers [perhaps too drunk to think]; but it doesn't matter because within minutes they're back on the dance floor, dancing away, as the hours pass on by.

Another group of party goers takes a break, and one asks the crowd if anyone knows of another party they could go to. No one is sure, but a strange party poll shows that a large percentage of these strange party goers believe that if you just get up and leave the party on your own, you will end up in a much worse party; while if you are unjustly kicked out of this party, then you will end up in a much cooler party.

Reality Check..

Six and a half billion people on a damp dust ball floating in space, buzzing on with their lives. No one is quite sure what this place is, how they got here, why they are here, how long they will stay, or where they will go afterwards. Yet, they go on living. Some are aggressive and like to harm others. Others are simply selfish and self-interested, and they often manipulate the aggressive into fighting in their armies and for their gain. They wage wars with armies of thousands, killing millions, in the pursuit of their self-interests. Others are sweet, considerate, loving, caring, comforting; they often hold loved ones tight, kissing their foreheads and cheeks. Some organize the conscientious to stand up to the aggressive and selfish. Some are righteous but hyper-cautious; they never take what's not theirs, but will not involve themselves in another's tale of victimhood and aggression.

None of these people are inherently different; some just had a little too much punch; some too little. Some were lucky enough to try some of the really good punch which happened to be situated on the table next to them. Others were unfortunate to get really thirsty and find nothing but drug-infected punch in their vicinity.

Occasionally, a group of thoughtful life livers get together for a conversation about life, and ask if anyone knows what this world is about, how they got here, and why. The questions are pretty simple and reasonable, yet they can never seem to come up with coherent answers [perhaps constrained by the biological limits of the human brain?]; but it doesn't matter because within minutes they're back on the "dance floor," buying groceries, eating ice-cream, arguing with neighbors over parking spots, fixing broken furniture; living on as the years pass on by. Sometimes they get together and ask what happens when life ends. Perhaps we just cease to exist? Not so, says the majority of people on this planet. They can't quite agree on what happens when you die; but one thing they are collectively certain of is that we don't just wither away into obscurity.

Sometimes they get together and ask what happens when life ends. Perhaps we just cease to exist? Not so, says the majority of people on this planet. They can't quite agree on what happens when you die; but one thing they are collectively certain of is that we don't just wither away into obscurity.

A group of bald men in robes say that we just start a new life all over again, in new bodies and with no recollection of our present lives. "ridiculous, isn't it?" says a crowd of bearded men with strange hats. "What happens is that you go to heaven where life is utterly without suffering; a gift to you by a God that loves you unconditionally!" Well pastor, should we then just kill ourselves and get to heaven already? "Oh no, there is a trick: if you kill yourself, you go to hell, where you live a life that is eternally full of suffering and no joy whatsoever [yes, that same merciful God who loves us unconditionally; he just has to eternally torture those poor souls who were miserable enough to take their own lives; not to mention those who don't know what to believe]. You're gonna have to wait until you die of disease, old age, accident, or willful aggression by another to get to go to heaven."

Six and a half billion people, buzzing on with their lives. They found themselves caught in a mystery they can't quite explain. They search for the wise among them, hoping someone can tell them what's going on. A group of old men with long beards and strange hats claim they know the mystery, that they've taken a spiritual peak behind the curtains. They admit they lack the evidence, but they make a virtue out of blind faith. They can't agree on anything [apart from that the admission of collective ignorance is not an option]; yet they all claim blind faith in their particular account of the mystery to be a virtue. No matter which one you choose to believe, the overwhelming majority of the people on this planet will consider you misguided. If you simply admit not knowing, their conclusions won't change (each will wonder how you can't see what they see; yet they all see different things).

I could say much more, but I'm tired so perhaps another day. I gotta run to the grocery store, get some work done, meet up with some fun and thoughtful friends; then maybe get some punch, hit the dance floor, and let the days pass on by.

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