Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Song of the Morning: Forgiveness

So it's Day of Atonement, again. Sounds like something out of a science fiction or a fantasy movie, doesn't it? The weird though friendly aliens have a bizarre and morally intriguing day long ritual in which we (the viewers) get a glimpse of some ancient and wise culture (though we, through the main protagonist, eventually refute or reject its ideas, while keeping good relations with the locals in case we ever need to refuel there again). Or maybe I've just been watching too much Star Trek lately?

I'm not a practicing Jew and I have no intention of starting now. Saying that, there are some interesting ideas this day can symbolize. Unlike Christianity, Judaism has no regular absolving mechanism except in the sanctity of this day. Even so, folk beliefs stress that the important area in which to ask forgiveness for and reconcile is the human relations (while the relations between man and god are important, you must first deal with the people you live with). God, it then says, sits in judgment and determines, not too much unlike Santa Clause, whether you've been a 'good boy' and so deserve to live or maybe you've been 'naughty' and would have to end your sorry existence on this earth. Also, there are no presents and you have to fast for 24 hours.

But seriously, the day does carry special meaning and significance even to non religious people. It is the single day in the year when it is quiet. No cars, no radios, no TV. Just children on bicycle in the street, families strolling by, echoes from the synagogues. It's as though the universe changes into some mirror existence of a simpler (somewhat boring if you're of a certain mindset) life.

I find it strange and simultaneously very human and understandable that we still need some God figure (or is it father/mother figure?) to turn to, to make sure it will be alright, that if we follow the rituals it will all be forgiven and washed anew. As Kant said, man refuses to grow up, and who wants to anyway? Why not remain the rebelling teenager who secretly admires and resents his maker, knowing that he will be forgiven no matter what?

A hard day for hard thoughts. Almost like any other.

Engineers - Forgiveness (from Forgiveness)

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