A Person’s True Worth

I don’t appreciate art.

I don’t say this as a judgment on art in general, but more as a disclaimer about my lack of sophistication, at least in this field.

The extent of my criticism of any given piece would be either: It looks nice, or that took a lot of effort and skill, or that’s so simple that even I could have done it, but she did it first – kudos to her.

So for any given piece of art, I cannot place a value on it. Just as well because who am I to do so when I can barely tell the difference between a masterpiece and the background posters used to sell Ikea photo frames.

However, there are others who know what they’re talking about and are willing to pay exorbitant sums for art.

Yes, sometimes it’s just vanity, yes sometimes it’s just posing and yes, sometimes it’s just people with too much money to spend.

But at the end of the day, if I put a lump of clay on eBay and someone bids a million dollars for it and pays for it, then that lump of clay is worth a million dollars, no matter what others say. Even, no matter what I say. And I made it.

In the Christiany context then, this solves a whole bunch of problems I used to agonize about. Am I worthy? Am I worthwhile? I’m not so sure. I better do more Bible Study. I’d better do more service. I’d better give more. I’d better convert more people, or at the very least, give out pamphlets at Christmas. I’d better sin less. Oh boy, do I really need to sin less.

Even the message of God’s grace, freely given, becomes self emotional blackmail.

Jesus died for your sins, while you were yet a sinner: You better behave yourself.

See the guilt trip?

It should actually be the reverse.

A mind-blowing, breath-taking exclamation of … ideally joy and gratitude. But more often then not, it’s just disbelief and doubt. I’ll get there someday.

Consider this: What if I fashioned a lump of clay and the greatest art collector in the world trades off everything he owns to purchase it? What if I write a clumsy ditty, put it on Youtube and the greatest maestro quits his job as a conductor of a world-class orchestra, sells everything he has first, then comes knocking on my door to purchase the rights for my ditty, with the caveat that I must go along with him to play it?

If that really happened, who cares what anyone thinks about my lump of clay, or musical ditty? So what if everyone thinks they suck? I think they suck. But the greatest art collector thinks otherwise. Can anyone gainsay his opinion? The greatest maestro says otherwise. Can anyone overrule him? Plus they both put their money where their mouths are – and paid for the respective pieces in full, at great personal costs to themselves.

This is nothing new, of course. Read here for the depictions of these in the Bible.

If the true worth of something is what someone is willing to pay for it (and actually does so), then if Christ died for me before I was even aware of my need for it, let alone willing to receive it, what does that say about my worth? To God? Who’s opinion overrides everyone else’s including my own?

So what if I don’t think I’m worth it? God does. Does my opinion supersede His? Of course not. (To insist on this is a kind of pride: My standards are higher than God’s) In which case, then by all accounts, by all opinions that matter, by all authority: I am worthwhile. Fact. Whether I like it or not.

Now, if I can get off my self-pitying a***, just accept this and live my life accordingly. Things usually go so much better.

Judged as I judge

When Covid broke out in my country and mask-wearing first became mandatory (except when doing vigorous exercise), there was an incident that I feel highlighted a major character flaw of mine.

Judgementalism.

I was driving with my wife.

We stopped at a pedestrian crossing.

A woman in her fifties crossed the road, mask pulled down, looking around, clearly enjoying her surroundings, with a big smile on her face.

As she crossed, she noticed other people crossing the road from the other side towards her so she quickly pulled up her mask.

My wife and I both noticed her, and her actions, and here is a summary of our respective reactions…

My Wife: What a lovely lady. She’s really enjoying her walk and the trees, and still considerate enough to put her mask on when people are coming near her.

Me: What an arrogant, self-entitled cow. Who does she think she is? Clearly, she’s only walking and not vigorously exercising, yet she has her mask down. Oh, now she pulls it on when there are people passing by her so they don’t tell her off.

So when my wife goes for a brisk walk, she’s happy to take her mask off and enjoy the surroundings and easy breathing, whereas I will insist on keeping mine on, huffing and puffing uncomfortably.

In fact, the only reason I’m still running as exercise instead of brisk walking is that only at a respectable speed do I feel justified in taking my mask off. Anything less than that, such as at a brisk walking pace, I fear people will judge me.

Now I wonder why that is.

CHANGING MY MIND ABOUT VACCINATION BY GETTING COVID

As a closet anti-vaxxer (see here), I delayed getting the mRNA vaccines as long as I could until the non-mRNA ones were available in my country. Then I decided to get those. 

Two reasons – the first, more pressing one was that the government had started to implement very stark and severe vaccine-differentiated measures in my country. There were already restrictions to the numbers that could dine out together, group sizes for socialising, even the number of visitors to homes. 

For fully-vaccinated people.

For unvaccinated people, no dining out at all, no access to malls, no access to cinemas.

Think leprosy in the Old Testament and you get the idea. Therefore, the motivation for vaccination then was not for medical reasons, nor even “social responsibility”, but to have some semblance of social life and be able to take my kids (one at a time) to eat somewhere other than home.

The nice part though, of getting the non-mRNA vaccine is I could then rub it in the noses of all those who did take it. Especially those who secretly didn’t like the idea of it, but felt pressured to do so, got it anyway, then started lashing out at those who delayed in their resentment.

This was an “in your face” moment for me. A moral victory of self-satisfied smugness whereby I avoided the risk of weird side-effects or horrors of the mRNA vaccines (which these people did not) but now could enjoy the full privileges of fully-vaccinated people anyway. I would have my cake and eat it.

Of course, God (or fate or whatever you believe) saw it to it I didn’t get away with it.

On the very weekend I got my first dose of the non-mRNA vaccine, my son developed a fever, a couple of days later, he tested positive. And because I was his main carer while he was ill those two days, I caught it too along with my wife despite our belated efforts at isolating him.

As per national guidelines at that time, we duly reported our results to the authorities, locked down the three of us in our bedroom, barricaded the nearby bathroom for our exclusive use so as to protect the remaining household members from catching it from us, and settled down for the “prisoner in your own home” routine for the next 10-14 days. But at least we had each other for company. Which, as the days wore on, proved to be a mixed blessing at best.

The day my son officially tested positive on a proper PCR test, we all tested ourselves with the home-test kits and were negative. However, the next day, I developed mild symptoms – nothing more than a slight runny nose and a vague sense of unease in my body. My wife and I tested ourselves again and both came back positive, which is when we bade farewell to the rest of the household and locked ourselves in our bedroom to sit it out.

For the next two weeks, I got front row seats for a very vivid demonstration of the difference between a Covid infection in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. On the first day, I had the secret ambition of getting better from it at least as quickly as my wife, if not sooner.

And why not? I was fitter, I was more active, I exercised regularly – running 5 kilometres on alternate days at a respectable pace, I even practised Tai Chi and Qi Gong. I would shrug off the virus in a few days on account of my superior general health and constitution and live to brag about it.

On day two, I was sleeping fitfully for about sixteen hours while my wife was up and about with an irritating cough. By day three, my son had fully recovered, my wife still had a cough and was getting bored, while I was mostly out of it the whole day. And this was the pattern for the whole of week one for our joint Covid experience. My son had a high fever for two days, coughed and moped around a bit for the next two, then effectively recovered. My wife had a cough and a bit of a runny nose for a week – not even enough to keep her from work normally in a pre-Covid world, and effectively was mostly fine after that.

In my second week, my body was wracked with aches and pains all over, I was exhausted after the slightest activity such as going to the toilet, or the frequent coughing fits that overcame me. If I stayed on my own, I would have checked myself into a hospital. Not that I ever felt that my life was threatened, or that I was ill enough to require hospital care per se, but I would not have been able to manage simple things such as preparing food for myself, and clearing the dishes.

I couldn’t even Whatsapp.

And then there were the cluster headaches like I had never experienced before. Like blinding explosions of pain across the head with no warning, often after movement, but just as often occurring for no reason. Again, whilst I never felt my life was actually in danger, there were times when I wished I were dead.

I didn’t do so in the first week because I was too out of it to be conscious enough to wish I were dead.

In the end, I gave in to taking some over-the-counter basic painkillers just to make life bearable. They helped somewhat, enough for me to function, but only just. (I had a reluctance to take medication when ill, believing it was “better” and more “natural” to sit it out. The basis of this is almost exactly the same as my previous anti-vax stance. And this has likewise now been abandoned).

In due course, I did get better. At least, the headaches mostly eased off, the coughing wasn’t in fits, and the body aches settled. The deep fatigue and weariness remained, but at least there wasn’t outright pain anymore. But it did take me the full fourteen days to recover.

By the time I could step out of isolation, I had lost three kilos in weight, and practically all cardio-vascular fitness. A slight cough lingered for two weeks after and so did the headaches. At time of writing it has been more than a month and I’m still only walking distances I used to run with ease.

My wife, in contrast, more or less cleared it in a week and has been fine. To add insult to injury, my elderly vaccinated mother also caught Covid a few days later, had mild symptoms for a few days then recovered as though nothing happened.

Without going into the long reasons why I resisted taking the mRNA vaccine again (you can read about it here), the short and sharp answer to why I now support vaccination is in this very stark and obvious demonstration of the difference it makes when we all got Covid together. No government conspiracy, no skewing news in favour of one view or another, no fudging of figures, no unknown person on youtube spouting their opinion. 

(I know I am such a person to you, but obviously, I know myself and my pre-existing health, so to me, I am trustworthy).

Vaccination makes a massive difference in the outcome of Covid even in healthy, young-ish individuals like myself. The experience of the illness itself in its full glory is enough for me to regret not getting vaccinated earlier, let alone the long-Covid which I suspect I now have to deal with long-term.

For the elderly and vulnerable, that difference could easily be life and death.

CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET ANTI-VAXXER: mRNA and GOD

I resisted getting vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines for the longest time.

Like many, I had “heard” of the problems with them from various sources. Then proceeded to do my own “research” to see if this was true. The video clips were sufficiently slick to convince me that, even if there wasn’t obvious evidence of wide-spread deaths, mutations, and brain damage even when millions had been vaccinated, there was always the whisper of …. “Yeah, but in a few years time, you’ll see.”

And therein lies the heart of my resistance. Not logic, but pride.

Logically, there is no reason to avoid the Covid vaccines. Even the mRNA ones.

Let’s put things in perspective. Short term issues are real, well-documented, not negligible, but overall worth paying the price for. There are no deaths, mass mutations, or springing up of previously unheard-of diseases. It’s not perfect, but it’s ok.

At present, it seems to be more focused on long-term effects.

Yes, no one can say for sure that in twenty years time, we realise they increase your chances of autoimmune disease by 2%. Or it leads to a 5% increase in cancer across the board. The best and most honest research now lacks one thing required – time elapsed, to say for sure, with 100% certainty, that none of this will happen.

However, by the very same token, the anti-vax campaign cannot say with any certainty these things will happen at all. For that matter, they cannot, on their own, say that anything is going to happen at all. Time has not elapsed.

It is just plain unfair to assert current, worldwide, intensive research cannot prove nothing will happen in twenty years time simply because the time has not passed, but at the same time assert with absolute certainty that something bad will happen. The same argument against reassurance of safety work against suspicions of future disasters.

Secondly, on the idea of “doing my own research”. On reflection, I had to grudgingly conclude that despite my best efforts, if I am painfully honest about it, my “research” falls far short when compared to “the other side”.

On one hand: Millions of healthcare workers, scientists, medical staff, doctors, professional researchers who train hard, then work full-time, get paid for their work, coming from different nations, companies, backgrounds, interest groups (sometimes even with conflicting agendas) all work to generate the vaccine, generate the trials and data, interpret the results, send it for peer-review in medical journals, not to mention government interest and pressure, and come up with the conclusions: The vaccines are not perfect, but safe. Here are the figures. And yes, there have been some side effects, even deaths – these have had the most scrutiny and attention, not least by the competitors of the brands that seemed to have caused them. But also by the producers, as they would want to see if there is anything they can improve for the future. If I don’t trust the professionalism of the entire medical and scientific community – which include some very close and personal friends – I can give some credence to Big Pharma’s self-interest in making money (and not getting bankrupted by a future civil action lawsuit.)

On the other hand: Me, reading WhatsApp messages sent by my elderly relatives, googling “vaccine cover-up/scam/conspiracy”, and reading the headlines (often not even the full articles), and watching a few minutes of long ranting videos, made by complete strangers, experts who have no existence before Covid began, zooming in on the parts that reaffirm what I already have decided is the truth, and leaving the rest out.

Last objection: It’s all a Big Conspiracy by the Templars, or Illuminati, or some other hidden players so powerful they control pharma, mega-companies, even governments.

Firstly, if you have a smartphone, you are already submitting to mega-companies who are openly admitting to all the data mining, advertising, profiling they are accused of, and people still go along with it because we like our phones.

Secondly, if there was such a Group (I’m not saying there isn’t) that is so hidden and powerful, we are already screwed anyway. It’s not just the vaccine they control, but everything else. We have no chance against such power, and our salvation must literally come from a literal God Above. Refusing the vaccine is peanuts compared to what else is at play here if that is the case.

If the deception is so deep, so profound, that the entire medical and scientific profession is corrupted, knowingly or otherwise, including personal friends, my own training as a doctor, and all external monitoring agencies, then what makes me think I’m so special as to pierce this veil of secrecy? In the story of Adam and Eve, when they were deceived by the snake, my deepest reaction is: I wouldn’t have fallen for that, proving I already have.

In the words of Keyzer Soze in the usual suspects, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”

The fact that I think I would have done better than the perfect first man and woman, is evidence that I am vulnerable to falling for the lies of the Devil.

I’ll sum up my anti-vax motivation in two phrases. “I told you so,” and (quietly to myself rather than to the general public) “serves you right.”

It is nothing more than wanting to claim the moral high ground. Against the face of all evidence, I take this stand because it’s in the face of all evidence. What glory is there for me to support what everybody supports? If what I believe turns out to be true, that just makes me like everyone else.

However, if I speak against the majority, I can use more flattering adjectives and descriptions on myself: Taking a Stand against the Ways of the World. A Voice in the desert calling. Not Deceived like the pagan masses. Holding Fast to the Truth. 

I can see myself as Good Noah, prophet of doom while the rest of the world partied. Or Job, who stood firm despite his well-meaning but misinformed friends. Or Elijah, deserted by all and alone against the world. Or even the Disciples, who almost to a man, died for their unpopular beliefs.

The payoff of my anti-vax stance is the chance of prophethood, which inconveniently might have to be validated with martyrdom, but still worthwhile if at the end I can say, “I told you so,” and “serves you right.” I don’t get to play God (which is what I really want to do), but this works as a decent substitute.

That trap is, having taken the self-righteous stance (and it is self-righteous when I do it), I’ll be literally damned if I back down from it. I can’t anymore. The humiliation would be utterly unbearable. So I stick to my guns, against the face of all evidence. The stronger the headwinds, the more I double down and dig in.

It is this that entrenches my stance, rather than any evidence or research I come across. 

Who has given the most to church?

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Luke 21 v 1-4 (NIV)

You know what? I’ve always thought of this in a moral sense. And to some extent, this is true. Jesus was commending this woman for giving out of her poverty rather than the others who were very wealthy. Who would disagree?

When we hear of the rich and mighty generously giving millions to a cause, we do admire it. But at the back of our minds, knowing they have tens of millions leftover, there can be a tempering of that admiration.

(But it is truly generous of them regardless, and no one can deny the good the actual money can be used for regardless of motivation or purity of intentions of the giver. Let’s not judge until we have millions to give away and actually do it, eh?)

But really moves us are stories where a father sacrifices the school fees reserved for his son so as to feed a neighbour. Or someone giving up their life savings to pay for an operation for a stranger. The actual amounts are dwarfed by the mega-contributions we see, but the moral aspect is greater because of the sacrifice involved. And in a sense, the less one has, the greater the sacrifice.

So that, I think is the point of the story above.

But, what if Jesus also meant what he said quite literally?

(NO biblical authority, or divine inspiration here – this is just purely my idle speculation, for fun.)

Consider this, who among us in church, has not heard of this story about the poor widow and two copper coins? Usually cynically mentioned during fund-raising, or pledge week, or at other times where someone is trying to guilt-trip us into giving generously. And it does work.

Ok, that’s being really cynical.

To be fair, sometimes this story is used honestly, scripturally, and according to God’s will. And it does inspire true, honest, sacrificial giving like it is meant to, for the benefit of both the giver and recipient.

In either case, think of how much money has been given because of this story, because of what this old widow gave?

Sometimes, in mega-fundraisers, celebrities are roped in to encourage people to give. It works. Their presence for a cause can bring in much more than they contribute (if they do at all) and in a sense, the money raised can be attributed to them.

Likewise, how much financial giving do you think this old widow inspired?

When I die and get to see how things really happen from God’s view, I look forward to checking this particular aspect out. And I think it might just be, OMG (literally addressing him rather than as an expression) the story of this old widow’s donation did really “cause” more money to be given than anyone else! She really is the top contributor and “put in more than all the others” not just morally but literally financially too!

Like I said, NO biblical basis for this, NO spiritual authority here, just me and my opinion. But you know what? I wouldn’t put it past God to do something like that – to make things true of a spiritual level (which is the more important of course) but also nail it in the most base, physical and crude level too – because He controls those aspects too, and it’s no problem for Him to do it all.

Do First – Ask Questions Later

My Tai Chi teacher had an annoying knack for being right and gaining the moral high ground in any aspect regarding his teachings.

I resent it. I don’t deny he’s right, but I still resent it. Maybe it’s because he’s right. This means the sensible thing for me to do is to take note of it regardless of how I feel.

One beginner’s lesson went like this.

We practised the “Heaven and Earth” movement for about ten minutes. One of the simplest ones in Tai Chi but also one of the most profound. At our level, however, it was more a matter of getting it right, without tension and stiffness before we could even think about the deeper philosophies it represented. Took us quite a while to even realise where we were tense and force, usually when “trying” to do it in a relaxed manner and even longer to fix that.

There was the curious and very specific instruction to ignore our breathing throughout. Which is odd because this was taught as a Qi Gong exercise which literally translates to “breath work”.

Then we dropped Heaven and Earth and went on the simply standing still and breathing. With the same issues. Tense, stiff, especially when”trying” to breathe naturally and in a relaxed way. Same process, took ages to even realise where the tension was, and even longer to fix it.

Then we combined both components. Do the movement with the breathing. Dramatic improvement. It was so much easier to do the movement and breathe naturally.

Then came the discussion after the lesson. Does the movement help the breathing? Clearly yes. Does the breathing help the movement? Also, clearly yes. Which is the more important? Which serves the other? Do we do Heaven and Earth to regulate the breathing? Or do we regulate the breathing to do Heaven and Earth?

Cue animated discussion from beginners. With ideas and opinions ranging from the (seemingly) profound to the downright ludicrous. After a while, we split into two camps, each strongly supporting opposite views to the other. Eventually, we talked ourselves out, realised anything further would be very obvious bullsh*t, so we fell silent and waited expectantly for my teacher to give the correct answer, validating my one side and humiliating the other.

When he realised we were finally done pontificating to each other, he blinked out of his daydream, and brightly said, “Who cares?”

And ended the lesson there.

The real lesson seems to have been this: As in my previous post, I often do wonder about the habits of successful people. When interviewed, they say, or at least imply, the secrets of their success are such and such things they do every day. I often suspect it’s the other way round: Because they are successful, so they can do such and such.

Hidden not too deeply behind my doubts is simply me looking for an excuse for me not to have to do what they do. But as my Tai Chi teacher pointed out in that lesson – we can do the movement, we can do the breathing, we can do both together. He later said for these things, it was often quicker for students to just do and figure the principles out for themselves than for him to teach it.

So for me, it is as it says in the Big Book of AA: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep man in everlasting ignorance – That principle is contempt prior to investigation – Herbent Spencer”.

My teacher said it was actually quicker and easier to just try a movement, or test a Tai Chi fighting principle than to try and teach or explain it.

Or, as my first sponsor told me in exasperation when I was trying to wiggle my way out of his suggestions, “Do first, ask questions later. It’s the easy way.”

Chicken or Egg

Ever hear testimonies like, “I wake up at 5 every morning to pray for an hour, meditate for another, then go for a run as the sun rises. Throughout the day, I’m in contact with God whenever difficulties arise, or sometimes, just to chat with Him. I make sure I reach out to at least two people to do service to them, however small and humble. At the end of the day, I write down a list of things I’m grateful for, then I get on my knees in thanksgiving and pray for at least fifteen minutes before I turn in at 10pm. I attend fellowship meetings twice a week, the prayer meeting once a week, and do community work at least once a fortnight. I donate to the poor too. And that’s why I’m in good recovery.”

Really annoying right?

Mainly because I don’t do what they do, and don’t have what they have. Simple envy tends to lead to me making excuses. But more of that another time.

On a more serious note, I’ve always wondered – is it because they do these things, therefore they are in fit spiritual state? Or is it because they are in fit spiritual state, therefore they can do these things, which, while there is no doubt they are good, worthy habits and probably help one maintain a fit spiritual state, attempting to do them when one is not in fit spiritual state could be counter-productive.

Are they in a good state of mind? (In Christian terms – broken and contrite, repentant and humble. In Addiction terms – admitting powerlessness over addictive behaviour and willing to turn to a Higher Power for help) Hence they are able to take these Actions? Or do taking these Actions bring them to the aforementioned good state of mind?

On a more personal, self-pitying tone, do I have to do all these things at all? Isn’t it unreasonable? The big guns in Recovery do all these things because they are already in a good head space (not successful, but willing). What about those of us who aren’t quite so willing? Would attempting to do all these on top of normal life, which is often falling apart, simply add burden to a system already at breaking point?

The closest I have to an answer came from my Tai Chi teacher during a Beginner’s class many years ago. See it here.

Omicron – God’s vaccine?

Disclaimer: This is entirely off my own head following a conversation with my father-in-law. There is no other research, evidence, or authority other than my own opinion and understanding of matters at time of writing.

Currently, most of the world is in the grip of the Covid – Omicron variant spreading like wildfire. Even Singapore, with one of the most well-controlled and compliant populations, coupled with one of the most efficient and organised public healthcare systems, has conceded it is only a matter of time before it spreads within the country and smashes all previous records in terms of daily infections.

Fortunately, the evidence seems to show that Omicron is not as deadly as Delta.

But it does presumably confer a degree of immunity to Covid in general.

As Gru in Despicable Me would say: LIGHT BULB!

IF (and a big “if” here obviously) Omicron turns out to be so mild, that the mortality and morbidity rate (read number of deaths and amount of harm) is comparable or even less than vaccination… then there we have it.

Effectively, God-given vaccination, all-natural, no nasties, no artificial flavours, even the most ardent anti-vaxxers can’t argue with that. And compliance and uptake figures? No problems. Spreading like wildfire. We can’t avoid it even if we wanted to.

And, as a medic friend commented, the only way we could have nailed Covid once the vaccines came out, was to have everyone vaccinated at the same time, rather than piecemeal across the world. Which possibly allows for resistant variants to arise.

If Omicron spreads across the world but turns out to be so mild, this could be the mass same-time vaccination that we failed to do the first time around.

Too much to hope for?

Probably.

But it does challenge perceptions about vaccination on both sides. And maybe, just maybe, this could be the silver bullet we were all waiting for.

True Hypocrisy

I judge Christians who are very openly… Christian.

You know, the ones who say Praise the Lord and Hallelujah a lot. The ones who close their eyes and raise their hands when they sing, like they really mean it and feel it. The ones who pray for at least an hour a day, and read at least a chapter of the Bible. The ones who make it a point to say grace before meals with their children.

I assume that they are like me, and it was/is all for show. That deep down, they feel nothing of that sort, but because that is the “right thing” to be seen to be doing, they do it. Hypocrisy of the highest order.

Some of them have been keeping up this facade for decades. As part of the show, they not only do these Christiany things, they also are: faithful to their spouses, hold down and work hard in their jobs, raise their kids appropriately, avoid indulging in vices, do volunteer work and give generously to charity.

Some of them even (shudder) Share the Gospel with people they come into contact with.

And they keep this up till the day they die of old age.

I shake my head in judgement at such people and look down upon them for not having the integrity to admit they don’t feel what they do.

Unlike myself. I know I’m not perfect but at least I’m honest. And because I refuse to do what they do, because I know it would be insincere, I just carry on as I am, messing things up, indulging in vices, and generally being very unpleasant to everyone around me.

But at least I’m being open and honest about my faults.

Unlike those hypocrites who refuse to admit it’s all a sham, and proceed to live their entire lives like actual saints. Even when they die, it’s with a peaceful smile on their faces, as though they carry on the act even beyond the grave.

Of course, there might be another, far simpler, explanation to all this, and I hope it is blinding obvious to any reader of this blog.

In AA, there are slogans such as “Act as if” and “fake it till you make it”.

Not a call to hypocrisy or putting up a show, of course, but rather to Do First and figure it out later. Taking Action, they call it, rather than Thinking About Why It’s Not Going to Work, and that I Don’t Feel it in My Heart.

It seems to have merit. Many addicts got started on the path to Recovery by showing up at an appropriate meeting. I don’t think there was a single one (myself included) who turned up Rejoicing in the Lord, skipping in with a song and clap. For most of us, it was Do or Die. Only under the greatest of duress, external pressure, force of circumstances, sheer desperation that drove us to the rooms.

But showing up was an Action. A concrete “thing” that we “did”. Not an idea in our mind that we thought. And with Action comes Results, apparently.

If someone takes correctly prescribed medication, he gets the benefits thereof. No matter if he believes it’s going to work, what his attitude to the treatment is, or even if he’s got the right idea about his own condition.

Yes, ideally, he has full understanding, is wholly on board, motivated and positive, which helps enhance recovery, improves compliance in the long term.

But in the short term, if I pop the pill, I pop the pill. I “act as if” I believe this is going to help. I “fake” my belief in the treatment by actually taking it. But in doing so, the medicine does have an effect, and I do get better.

It’s not hypocrisy after all then, but a grudging submission to… well… something other than myself at least, who knows better. And why not?

Maybe those Christians with such disciplined lives are on to something after all…

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