Published Nov 6, 09 AM
By Louis Cortese
There are three types of people in this world.
Actually, there are more than that, but for purposes of this blog post there are only three. They are:
- those that preach (the Preacher),
- those that swallow the preaching hook, line and sinker (the Believer),
- and those that mock the preaching, (the Doubter).
Let’s assume for purposes of this exploration that you and I are none of the above three. We are neutral observers so as to allow us a non-partisan objective, look into the essence of these three types of people, and just for fun, try to determine which of the three is the most laudable.
The first one we will examine, the Preacher, dwells in many areas of life, but for our purposes we are going to focus on the revered guru type—or even just a popular charismatic yoga teacher. The most prominent characteristic of this type is a dead certainty that what they are teaching is true. These are not charlatans. They are convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that their way is the one that will take you to the Promised Land. In a certain sense that is quite admirable, for it engenders an enormous level of comfort. There is no desultory wandering or unfulfilled searching. The path is clear. It needs only to be followed to realize [fill in the blank].
The Preacher lifts your spirit and gives you hope that this world is not going to self-destruct. The Guru/charismatic yoga Preacher offers an antidote to the violence, brutality and animosity that too often plague our planet.
This positive, uplifting, divine revelation, along with a firm declaration of its availability to all, expressed in a compelling, beguiling manner is what hooks the Believer in. It’s not just the message, although it plays an important role; it’s the manner in which that message is transmitted that draws the Believer in to embrace its tenets.
The Believer wants, indeed yearns, for that comfort of having found the way home, and the Preacher delivers it by way of an enchanting performance and a charming personality. The formula is irresistible to the Believer, who is captivated and enraptured and soon becomes an ardent disciple deeply involved in propagating the message. Once hooked, the Believer abrogates his own examination and self-introspection in favor of mimicking the Preacher’s message. He also reveres the Preacher as a person, blindly. He overlooks any hypocrisy between the message and the actions of the Preacher.
Enter the Doubter.
He does not at all relate to the message. Instead he only sees the hypocrisy in magnifying proportions. He therefore ridicules, mocks and brutally criticizes the Preacher and the content of his beliefs. He can play an important role in siphoning out the truth from the fluff, but he sometimes gets carried away with contemptuous, scornful judgment. He doesn’t take the time to receive the Preacher’s message with an open mind. He does, however, perform an important service. He keeps everyone honest by exposing what is blatantly or cryptically false.
So now that we’ve explicated our three classes of people, let’s grade them on the benefits they provide to humanity.
I think the Believer can be easily placed on the bottom of the list, because its group doesn’t bring anything original to the table. The Believer type is merely an audience and disseminator of the Preacher’s message. Moreover, the gullibility factor, along with the blinders, makes for heavy demerits.
That leaves us with the Preacher and the Doubter contending for the top spot. Let’s list the salient characteristics of each, then: The Preacher is a positivist and the Doubter is a nihilist. The Doubter provides a great benefit in extending the discourse on important issues. He ferrets out affectation and provides balance. The Preacher provides what everyone is yearning for: the answer on how to be happy or how to become enlightened or how to sing in the rain. The Doubter is a Killjoy. He ruins the party. He’s a downer. If there is any humor, it’s dark. The Preacher makes you feel sunshiny good. He offers you the keys to the attainment of bliss, albeit rarely delivering them. He quotes Rumi and Mary Oliver. The Doubter quotes Nietzsche and Richard Dawkins.
Any doubt as to who the winner is? Which are you drawn to?
One only needs to look back in history and see that the heroes, the revered, the celebrated, the august were (and are) all Preachers and very few Doubters, if any. The majority of us, though, are Believers. We need Preachers to follow because we feel we can’t find the answers on our own. So we take the lazy way out and float on the stream that we’ve been told will lead us to happiness or self-realization, created by the hard-working Preachers. The doubters also operate from an indolent nature because it’s easy to tear down; it’s much harder to create.
Perhaps there is another type, another way to be that is none of the three, neither Preacher, Believer nor Doubter: an Observer.
About Louis Cortese
Lou , in his life, has been a precocious young boy in an anachronistic town in the mountains of Sicily, an immigrant at the age of 8 arriving by way of an ocean liner to the shores of the west side of Manhattan, a guido from the Bronx, a hippy, a Zen Buddhist, a businessman, a yogi and a conventional family man with three sons and two grandchildren, among other things, none of which describes his true self and all of which in the aggregate do not give a full account of him. If his story is not he, then what is? He’s still looking. Lou’s musings can be followed on his blog http://louiebop.tumblr.com/