picture from www.victims.org.uk
Certainty worries me. People who are certain frighten me.
I used to be certain. I was 16, a vulnerable teenager brainwashed by fundamentalist Christians. I went around telling people they would burn in hell if they didn't turn to Christ, This did not win me many friends, as you can imagine. Imagine saying that to your mother when she has just lost her husband? Nice.
Luckily bloody-mindedness came to my rescue. One night I was supposed to lead a prayer meeting, but I went down with a migraine. If you have ever had a real migraine, you will know that I was not capable of getting out of bed, let alone leading a prayer meeting! Between attacks of vomiting, I rang the church leader who was hosting the meeting at her home to explain I could not come. She was very angry. She told me it was my duty to Christ to turn out. She was so certain. So the Church and I fell out.
Since then, I have learnt that certainty breeds bigotry and violence. The Pope is certain that gays will burn in Hell. He doesn't want them to have equal rights. Or rather, he wants some people to be more equal than others. Its the thin end of the wedge.
Anyone who holds extreme views risks this. A fundamentalist atheist like Richard Dawkins will tell you its all religion's fault. And he is terrifyingly certain of this. He would ban religion just as surely as the Pope would outlaw homosexuality and the Chinese would like to eradicate the Tibetans. His views hold just the same seeds of violence and distrust. There are so many people who are absolutely SURE in this world that they are right. From Islamists to animal rights activists and anti-abortion campaigners. And Jeremy Clarkson, and you just KNOW he is right about everything!
Open your mind. This world holds a myriad of possibilities. There is not only one answer. Its hard on your ego to admit maybe someone else has an answer as good as yours. But it makes the world a gentler and frankly more interesting place when you do.