“Tom, the other day someone called me a surly curmudgeon atheist.
“What did you say to that, Dave?”
“I said, “Well everyone has to be something.”
“Then this someone said:
“Why is it so difficult for you to believe in God? Don’t you know he cares about you?”
“I bet this someone was starting to get under your skin, Dave.”
“Too right, Tom.”
We both shifted on our green padded stools.
I responded to this someone:
“The world is uncaring. The cycles of life come and go. We individual living creatures are just along for the ride, tossed about in the surf.”
“I have faith,” said the someone.
“What I have difficulty with is the concept of faith, because it isn’t based on logic, experience or evidence.”
“I put my faith in God to get me through the day.”
“When you cross the road, I bet you look both ways.”
“Boy oh boy, Dave, you really hammered home the point that faith might make some people feel good BUT practical matters require reason and evidence.”
“Right on, Tom”
We pondered for a minute.
“Oh, and Tom, this someone also said:
“If you don’t believe in God or Eternity, then what you do in this life is irrelevant.”
“I disagree,” I said, “Your acts here are all that matters.”
“So this someone thinks if this is all there is, what’s the point?”
“That’s what he was trying to put over BUT I contend if this is all there is, then what we do here is the ONLY thing that matters. In fact, it makes it matter all the more!”
“So Dave, how do we feel about our actions in life?”
“I say if a person feels that they are accomplishing their goals, they should feel good and feel that they have a meaningful life.”
“What about other people?”
“Well Tom, you know what Sartre said, “Hell is Other People”. And we do encounter lots of irritating people.”
“I have mixed feelings about lots of people I meet,” said Tom.
“Some people try to block our goals and take away our sense of control. Others have their own agendas and they don’t share our beliefs or our sense of what is important. So they take away our sense of primacy. We resist and this reinforces our identity.”
“What’s the message then, Mr. Curmudgeon?”
“The message is, my friend, that we need others physically and psychologically. Others can create anxiety in us, but they also define who we are.”
“And finally, Tom, this someone started attacking my character by saying I couldn’t be a good friend and I wouldn’t have many friends because of my beliefs and surliness.”
“He didn’t say that, did he?”
“Yes he did. I guess we have to conclude this discussion with the concept of Friendship.”
“You, Tom, are my friend. Am I your friend?”
“Yes Dave, you’re my friend.”
“Ok, so let the discussion begin with Aristotle, he said that some friendships are based on utility, what people can do for on another, others based on pleasure and yet some others on virtue.”
“Our friendship is primarily based on pleasure. I love your blogs!”
“Well, thank you, Tom.”
We both laughed.
“And Tom, what I like about you is that you’re a good listener and once in a while you come up with some very pithy statements.”
“Well Dave, thank you, we are like a mutual admiration society.”
We laughed again.
“To keep with Aristotle, he also said, a solid friendship is between good men who are alike in virtue.”
“He must be suggesting that there is NO friendship among the corrupt!”
“Aristotle also suggested that good people are not just morally good but they are also good at something.”
“Oh, oh, Dave, I feel a kicker coming.”
“Yes Tom, here it comes, a friend must have skill, ability, be thoughtful and have defining attributes of EXCELLENCE.”
“So Dave, you and I have to be well-rounded, morally and intellectually. According to Aristotle, the best life is fulfilling your duties as a good citizen.”
We both drained our beer glasses.
“Hey Dave, by the way, who was that “Someone” that attacked your basic self?”
“Well Tom, I didn’t want to say before… but I was on a woodland walk, my constitutional, you know, when in the misty distance I saw a figure approaching.
The figure was wearing a long black hooded cloak. I couldn’t see his face, but he was carrying a farm implement, I think it was a scythe. He did all his talking from a distance and when he finished he disappeared.
“Yes Dave, but he did inspire a good discussion.”
We left the building in a hurry!
Also published on Medium.