Although I never became a serious member of any religious movement, my parents were staunch Seventh Day Adventists (SDA). Seventh Day Adventism is a Christian sect which was originated by an upper-class Caucasian community somewhere in the United States. Thus every Saturday, I had dutifully gone with my parents and siblings to the SDA church at Manyatta School, not far from the general market centre called Awendo.
However, the manner in which practically all of South Nyanza had embraced America’s SDA thought is quite another story. Yet it was as an SDA adherent that I spent all my pre-adolescent time. In other words, I had become a staunch believer in Euro-America’s Caucasian religion called Christianity. It was thus that I had embraced the now world-encompassing teaching known as heavenly salvation.
It was, indeed, into the Seventh Day Adventism (SDA) that I was born in South Nyanza a few long decades ago. I became a thoroughgoing believer in Euro-North America’s general religious ideology, namely, the world-encompassing teaching about heavenly redemption at a date that, up to now, no priest with whom I am familiar ever seems able to name.
Howbeit, though religion no longer urges my mind, I have to continue to behave with respect about it because all my still living siblings remain staunch adherents of the US-based SDA. If I behave fundamentally differently, I could alienate my whole family – as I have alienated the sect into which I was born.
Seventh Day Adventism had begun as a Christian movement, led worldwide by upper-class Caucasian Americans, people who, especially in their sermons, never seem to have heard even of anything called a comma. In their certainties, many preachers of religion never appear to have heard even of the word “diplomacy”.
None the least, their message is simple. Do this, don’t do that, and you will inherit a miraculous piece of real estate in some wonderful sky-land called heaven. Indeed, heaven enchanted my own mind all the way till acquaintance with the human world’s other religious thought systems began to force me to pose fundamental questions to myself.
All in all, such questions have led me into a situation where I no longer can invest any hope in any place other than our earth. Yet it has not forced me into sadism or anything anti-human. That is why I do not necessarily enjoy the idea of forcing anybody to alienate the religious abode in which his or her mind has found some comfort for such a length of time.
But kindness (general goodness to all human beings) – especially to those who come into contact with you – seems to me to be the chief teaching of every genuine religious movement. If you are a believer, what you should remember all the time is to do the necessary good to every human being who comes near you.
Though I am no longer the religious person that I was during my youth, the teaching of every genuine religious movement remains attractive to me. Every preacher seems to urge his or her listeners: Be good to every fellow human being right here on earth, especially when a person needs your help here on earth, and God will reward you for it handsomely.
The “God will reward you” part of it is what scares me off the “be good” teaching of religion. It may prove a powerful motivator. But human goodness needs no motivation of that kind.
For it poses at least one fundamental question: Why be good to anybody merely so as to receive a reward for it? Does any religion put it quite in that callous way? If you need a material reward so as to be good to a fellow human being, you might as well forget it. You have lost all your humanity.