Living in the here and now

Chiba

Regarding the Rev. William L. Bulson’s letter of Dec. 23: Bulson’s overriding concern with the tragic Newtown, Connecticut, massacre seems to betray a certain double standard.

U.S. President Barack Obama has, with broad bipartisan support, signed executive orders that have killed more than 3,000 people in drone attacks. Most of these victims have been innocent, many of them children. Yet, like most Americans, Bulson seems to express shock only when the victims of violence are American. …

Bulson urges us to follow the “way of compassion” as Jesus Christ did. However, as many philosophers and psychologists have realized, this spirit of self-denial, along with the meek submission to authority that goes with it, is an unhealthy attitude toward life, and is very far removed from genuine love or compassion.

The “devout” feel unworthy of God’s grace, so they cannot help feeling that the rest of humanity is equally unworthy. The truth — to which so many religious leaders seem implacably opposed — is that a person must be capable of self-love before he or she can be of any help to anybody else.

In my opinion, there is far too much self-sacrificing “compassion” in the world. Whether it’s jihadist suicide bombers, ethnic Tibetans burning themselves alive in China, or Christian rape victims denying themselves an abortion, the principle is the same: Religion tells us to sacrifice ourselves for a higher power that many of us believe to be nonexistent.

Philosophy and psychology, on the other hand, teach us to live in the here and now. Maybe some day people will realize this and stop listening to the woolly-headed advice of clergymen.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

jim makin