What Really Matters Is What You Believe

What Really Matters Is What You Believe

(On Da Vinci’s Codes and Concerning Criticisms on Similar Controversial Literary Works)

{A tribute to one of my favorite authors of this generation, Christopher Hitchens (13 April 1949–15 December 2011)}

I am yet to decode whatever Dan Brown has encrypted in his book The Da Vinci Code, so I’m not yet in the position to offer my commentaries about the book itself. But, this doesn’t prevent me from expressing my views about the currently proliferating criticisms lodged not only at the contents and nature of Dan Brown’s controversial book but also at other similarly bold contributions to Arts and Literature.

I have the penchant to wait until the smoke wanes before I look into the real cause of the fire. Thus, The Da Vinci is not yet on my list of books to read, but I will certainly read my copy of it as soon as I feel like it.

I don’t believe in destructive criticisms and censorship; I believe that humans have the innate ability to discern and make their own choices.

As J.K. Rowling wrote in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: “It’s our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are….”

Ultimately, diversity, understanding, and acceptance is the key to peace and harmony; not singularity, indifference, and discrimination.

The stones and boulders that are currently thrown at Dan Brown are nothing new. Similar allegations had been lodged at John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, in the 1960s, as soon as The Lord of the Rings achieved popularity. Critics accused Tolkien of subliminally promoting godlessness by failing to make a reference of a god in his book, an accusation which eventually backfired on the clueless critic who was obviously unfamiliar with the entirety of Tolkien’s work, for in The Silmarillion Tolkien wrote:

“In the beginning, there was Eru, the One, who in later days was known as Ilúvatar by the Elves. He made first the Ainur, who were his Angels, and he gave to them song and music as a gift, and spoke to them of great themes.”

Joanne Kathleen Rowling has suffered similarly, as detractors claimed she was espousing witchcraft and wizardry. Had these critics actually read any Harry Potter book, they would have surely discovered that behind the literary façade of Rowling’s books is a wealth of lessons not only for children but more so for grown-ups.

And what can you say about Nietzsche when he declared that God doesn’t exist? Did that make him less human? Was he being morally irresponsible? Or was he only stating a personal belief which he was holding in high esteem?

Accusations about writers and artists promoting evil and destroying faiths through their works, to reiterate, are nothing new. They are, in themselves, also as subjective as they can ever be. This kind of character assassination stretches back to many centuries before our time. Remember the “burning of witches at the stake,” which was a common practice in the 15th-century Europe? In those days, espousing a belief and ideology contrasting to what was “normal” and “common” meant that the espouser was a witch, evil, and therefore must be burned to the death. How brutal and barbaric, one might squeak, but that was not much different from what is happening nowadays—burning to death those who expressed radical ideas and went against the views of the so-called moral society IS not much different from criticizing people who share their unusual, uncommon, or unorthodox beliefs through music, speeches, or literary works.

What many so-called moralists did (and are doing) to the likes of Tolkien, Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Jonathan Swift, The Eagles, The Beatles, Metallica, Rowling, and Dan Brown is what I call metaphoric burning of witches (and wizards, for that matter).

Why? Are the same “moralists” afraid that other people’s unorthodoxy might affect their own faiths? Isn’t that a shameful revelation that they themselves have hidden doubts about their own beliefs?

I believe that if a person really holds her beliefs and ideals in high esteem, no book nor preacher can easily sway her.

The Last Leaf
As I wrote in a book I am yet to finish:

“In final analysis, faiths and beliefs, and all those diverse spiritual orientations, no longer matter in the end so long as the individual lives his life in harmony with his fellow creatures and the environment, sincerely trying every day—through little to large deeds—to become a better and worthy member of the society to which he belongs.”

{I started blogging as early as 2004, long before many computer users, just because they knew how to use the computer keyboard, thought that blogging alone made them proper writers or journalists. That blogspot of mine, http://www.elf-ideas.blogspot.com, has always been a treasure trove of ideas and always came in handy every time I need topics to write about. Ultimately, it’s always good to realize that most if not all of the sentiments and insights that I have expressed on such blog articles remain true to what I truly believe and consistent with my worldviews and perspectives. Here is a blog entry that I posted in December 2004 about literary censorship, the controversiality of which remains relevant today as it was that year.}