“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.
“These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for is good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defense, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.”(Life of Pi by Yann Martel, 89-90)
I have always found this passage to be thought provoking, especially in light of all of the conflict, past and present, which has arisen due to theological differences. Even in class discussions, I have seen students react with anger and possessive pride when issues have arisen concerning faith and religion. I have noticed that I, too, have fallen victim to this reaction when issues have arisen with friends and colleagues. Why do we feel the need to be right and then convince everyone else of our belief? Does the “Ultimate Reality” need to be defended by us? Or do we do a better job of defending our faith by showing love and caring toward others, especially those in need?