Friday, 7 December 2012

Free from superstition, free from fear.

I was playing scrabble with my sister over the weekend, and it was a lot of fun - it's kind of a tradion with us now.

At one point in one of the games, I commented that I was having a great game, things were going really well, I was getting good letters at the right time and the opportunity to use them well.

A few years ago, I would have had to follow that with a "touch wood" exclamation, followed by actual touching of wood, just in case I was tempting fate and my luck would change simply by virtue of my having commented on it.

Now, as an atheist, skeptic, rationalist, I don't feel the need to do that. I know that it is pure random chance that draws the letters from the bag, and me saying I got good ones does not invite some malicious demon imp upon me to mess with my future chances.

I can say what I like without fear of impunity. It's the fear that's the problem. The worry that my words, thoughts or simple actions can affect the outcome of something which really, of course I have no control over. The time I was brushing my teeth and the Ireland team scored a goal - perhaps I should brush my teeth for the ninety minutes of every Ireland game in future, to help the Boys in Green on their way? As if little old me could really make such a difference...but...what if? Should I do it, just in case? If they lose, is it my fault?

Not to mention throwing salt over your shoulder if you spill some - was it the left shoulder, or the right? Should I google it, just to be sure? If I throw it over the wrong one, is it double bad luck?

And that mirror I broke as a child, seven years of bad luck! No wonder I had such a crappy childhood. It was all down to the cracks in the mirror. Then there is the four-leaf clover, to ward off evil and bad luck, a good luck charm. An abberation in nature, a slight malfunction in the genetic code - why are four leaf clovers so sought after, when six-toed children are not?

The fear that some little thing I even think could impact upon the outcome of huge events is awful, and awfully silly. I am so glad I gave that up.

My thoughts are my own now. Superstition of that degree is the Thought Police on the most effective scale ever. We police our own thoughts, try to purge the unwelcome ones from the record - though the unwelcome ones in that scenario are the pleasant ones, where we are grateful and happy - in case the thought alone makes all the good things go away.

I am free from superstition, and free from that fear.

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