I am not a religious person, but a post on thepublicblogger.com website garnered my attention over the weekend. Kendall F. Person has developed one of the most compelling artistic blogs I’ve encountered in my fledgling experience so far, combining the thoughtful written word along with song and visual art to stimulate both mind and senses. His ‘Angels’ redux post last Friday wasn’t strongly religious as well, but posed the question as to what angels mean to us individually and whether they have any influence in our lives.
First of all, I am not a believer in spiritual involvement, at least directly, in the fortunes and misfortunes in our lives, largely because I think, generally, we all need to take greater responsibility for our actions instead of attributing them to non-material influences. The purpose of this blog has been to promote the public interest through a recognition how our conduct, in its bias toward self-interest or a broader one, deters or contributes toward our mutually beneficial potential. Any attribution to external forces denies that role and ignores the value and importance of our participation towards developing an organic and democratic result rather than an imposed one.
However, Mr. Person’s post led me to consider what angels and demons meant to my mindset which was fitting considering the dichotomous ideas behind my writings. Partly framing the question around the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, asking whether the American and Russian leaders heard the whispers of angels urging them away from further escalating the confrontation, provided me with more incentive to share my thoughts since, being of Japanese descent, the threat of nuclear war has never been far from my mind most of my life. Hard to forget when your parents take you to visit the Nagasaki A-Bomb memorial museum when you’re ten.
First, you can’t consider associating angels with the de-escalation of the Cuban Missile Crisis without talking about the many preventable tragedies that still happen too often. Over the past week alone, we saw about 150 children and their teachers massacred in an attack on a Pakistan school, two die in the cafe hostage taking in Sydney, a mother accused of killing eight children also in Australia, a man murdering six relatives including a 14-year-old in Pennsylvania, and shortly after reading Mr. Person’s Angel’s post, two Brooklyn policemen were killed in cold blood amid tensions over the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. It’s particularly sad thinking that amidst all this carnage, a local story of a mother charged with the murder of her eight-year-old daughter found in the trunk of her car two weeks before Christmas is almost an afterthought.
These murders alone give reason why I can’t acknowledge the notion of personal protective guardian angels. The concept is too arbitrary and unfair to consider in the face of these tragedies just as much as those who, when winning an award or athletic competition, proclaim they were particularly blessed by gods or angels for their fortune amidst the vast majority of participants who are not as recognized and/or rewarded despite making similar and respectable efforts.
But, going back the Cuban Missile Crisis, the fact that nuclear weapons have not been used since World War II has been a constant source of encouragement to me. I have visited both Hiroshima and Nagasaki and seen the lasting impact of that devastating attack which was primitive compared to today’s weapons, something that must have weighed heavily on Kennedy and Kruschev during the Cuban standoff. Or, if you prefer as Mr. Person suggested, perhaps there was a spiritual influence that guided their decision that spared the world from disaster.
If it gives people comfort to believe that angels happened to significantly influence that decision, so be it. Consistent with the themes of my blog, I suggest then the purpose of such angels are to persuade us to think of the greater good in our actions and that, as global leaders, Kennedy and Kruschev were just that much more receptive to their influence given the gravity of the situation.
Yet you cannot recognize angels without acknowledging whatever demons haunted those who perpetrated those devastating acts in the past week. For whatever reason these tragedies occurred, something led these people to disregard the welfare of their victims in their crimes.
I consider it part of human nature to sometimes require ideas to be personified for them to be better understood, so if the voice of public interest is to be spoken by angels and self interest by demons, again, so be it. Not to consider the use of angels and demons here to imply good and evil. My ideas are still concerned more with how to create the most benefit for the most people, as well as the least harm to the fewest.
And contrary to these recent tragic incidents, this holiday season is still highlighted by the kindness and generosity of so many thinking of not only of friends and loved ones, but also those in need and less fortunate. In the Metro Vancouver area where I live by itself, there’s constant news of thousands of dollars being raised for charity, mountains of toys gathered for needy children, and Christmas dinners for the homeless, to name just a few of the ongoing efforts. As much as the events of late demonstrate the damage that can be done by the few, we are still seeing so much being accomplished by the many that enriches all of our lives.
So, with gratitude, I wish you, my blog audience, along with your friends and family, Merry Christmas and a happy and wonderful holiday season, but, if you are open to my ideas, I feel it unnecessary to ask for the blessing of angels upon you. As caring people, you are already receptive to the spirit of the greater good, whether be through the guidance of intelligence or angels. It may better then to ask that those who encompass your world also be touched by such spirits so that we can all work towards a peace and harmony that extends beyond this joyous time of year.