“Grief does a lot in our lives, Comrade Andrei Yeremenko. We cannot ignore the effects of grief.”
“What do you mean?”
“Grief, my friend, forces us to search our souls and find answers to issues that constrain us from becoming better human beings.”
“You are right,” Yeremenko said with a reflective look on his face.
“Actually, the unfolding of events in their destructive form at the end of 1991 made me reconsider my outlook on life. I’m no longer an atheist in the sense that you knew me before you left for Israel. I know I’m not far away from being considered an agnostic. Nevertheless, the important thing is that I have become a believer in a Supreme Being.”
“That is a surprising development. Yes, Comrade Boris! Believe me, I ’m happy for you.”
“You are not flattering me, are you?”
“Why should I? I meant it. It came from the depth of my heart.”
“I thought you would laugh at me, that I have become a believer.”
“I won’t do that, my dear friend. I know it takes a great deal of strength to have faith in a Supreme Being that you cannot see or that you cannot feel directly with your other senses.”
“And you? How developed is your faith?”
“Comrade Boris, something monumental happened to me during my second month in Israel. My cousin persuaded me to accompany him to Jerusalem. He was going there with his family and they virtually dragged me for a visit to the Wailing Wall. Remember, I told you several times before that I considered myself a deist. Yes, I was practically a deist. Well, I finally went to the city of my forefathers with the intention of just having the fun of it.”
“You never took people who are inflexible in their ideas or religious faith seriously.”
“You remembered well, my friend. I went with my cousin and his family to the Wailing Wall, all right. It was all fun until my grandnephew gave me a piece of paper to put in one of the crevices that abound there. Believe me, I felt something getting hold of me only after that action. A supernatural sensation swept through my body as I confined his words to the mysteries of the wall that perplexing afternoon. I went on to supplicate like the other true believers all around me. The whole experience was a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree turn-around for me because it marked the first time in my life that I fully accepted the existence and the might of a God. I wonder if I looked comical that evening as I poured out my feelings in front of the wall like other Jews. I must have wailed in the same manner that believers in our faith have done over the centuries.”
“In a way, I felt like I let out not just my anguish, but also the anguish of many generations before me. Believe me, there is a God who is demanding and has provided us with ways to worship him.”
“I guess you are wondering about the religious establishments,” Boris offered.
Yeremenko nodded. “Faith is one thing we must not question, or else I would have doubted mine after realizing the weaknesses of our religious establishments.”
“Ah, Comrade Andrei Yeremenko! There is a God; there is an all powerful Lord we should take seriously,” Boris said with a sigh, “He is the ultimate maker of history, the weaver of our lives and the fear of our wisdom.”
“You are right, Comrade Boris.”
“Imagine for a second that back in the summer of 1991, you or I went to sleep in the same manner as Rip Van Winkle, and then only to wake up a year after to find the changes that our land and the world have undergone. Do you think we would have believed our eyes, ears and minds?”
Yeremenko shook his head no, dimming his eyes in the process. “Certainly not, Comrade Boris!”
“Oh, Comrade Andrei Yeremenko! Who would have thought a decade ago that there wouldn’t be the Soviet Union today?” Boris carried on.
“It is a sad memory!” Yeremenko acknowledged.
“Well, to the question of faith, my dear comrade,” Boris began in a pondering manner, “I have been haunted by this question of man’s belief in the Supreme Being. I have struggled a lot with it and still can’t find a clear answer to my doubts. What is the highest thing for mankind to have faith in if we want to attain peace and happiness? The unavoidable answer is always God. God, God, God! Our minds will settle for nothing other than God. Yet as communists, we rejected God and chose the path of atheism, when you and I know that communism’s goals and ideas make it the human philosophy for peace and happiness. In fact, the ideology is the closest thing to God’s directives for humankind as far back as the Noahide laws. I think our rejection of God contributed enormously to the failure of communism.”
“How?” Yeremenko asked with dimmed eyes.
“How, you ask me! How?” Boris chuckled, “The answer is simple. In our effort to implement the noble ideas of Marx and Lenin, we communists resorted to reasoning only. We failed to have God on our side because of that. Yet in a subtle way, we were trying to do the job of the Almighty Lord. Yes, my dear friend and comrade! We wanted to eliminate the crimes, mistakes and other injustices of hundreds of generations before us by relying on reasoning only. The ridiculousness of it all is that we actually thought we could achieve such a feat within a couple of years. In the end, the vulnerability of human reasoning led us to make more mistakes and to commit more crimes than we had ever imagined. That was how we too lost our way to peace, harmony and happiness.”
“Huh! So you are blaming everything on Stalinism and the other distorted forms of Marxism that have been practiced in the name of communism?”
Boris nodded. “That is how we lost our purpose, and today, communism is a spent idea. The vanguards of communism made mankind to lose faith in humanity’s highest psycho-social philosophy by failing to embrace the essence of religious feeling, the unquestionable belief in a Supreme God. That is how we failed. That is my strong conviction, my dear friend and comrade. I arrived at it after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now, I’m trying to believe. I’m making an effort to reconcile my faith with God.”
“Yes, Comrade Boris,” Yeremenko muttered, struck by a sudden thought. “I’m also trying to develop a deeper faith in God. I’m even trying to pray fervently. It is a difficult thing to do, but I know I’m getting there. I even try to understand those who profess so much faith in God, yet go about committing crimes in his name. A Muslim kills a Jew or a Christian in the name of Allah and gives a reason for the action. Protestants kill Catholics and vice versa, but they always have a reason for our ears as to why they did it. Why do Shias and Sunnis kill one another when you and I know that they are both Muslims? Yes, Comrade Boris; they kill for the sake of reasoning—a reasoning that distorts faith. They are even worse than the atheists who got lost in their noble intentions because they lacked faith. Yes, my friend! A person who tries to use reasoning to explain faith gets lost in the wilderness of incomprehension.”
“You must have given a deep thought to this issue of man using reasoning in his effort to define his obligations to his faith,” Boris said.
“Yes, Comrade Boris. If you look at it deeply, it becomes clear that those who force their reasoning on others in a bid to propagate or enforce their faiths are advocates of the devil. I consider them the devil’s advocates whether they like it or not. As a matter of fact, those fanatics are actually cursing God.”
“You mean those who kill, plunder, rape, oppress, discriminate and even steal in the name of a religion?”
“Yes, my dear friend. We can call them the quasi-faithful. Faith goes hand in hand with the belief in a supreme purpose that includes everybody, a purpose that is for mankind’s ultimate peace, harmony and happiness. Those who try to use reasoning to explain faith and base their reasoning on the rejection of other groups that also happen to profess faith in a Supreme God, should be considered the worse enemies to all believers, irrespective of their religions or creeds. These rejecters of the supreme purpose are implacable enemies of humanity. They are worse in their criminality than the criminals who have made peace and happiness elusive for mankind during its entire history. Yes, my dear friend and comrade, I have a fear—a rising fear, I must add. These quasi-faithful are growing in strength. They are the fundamentalists today, and they abound in all the religions. Before, they were united with others against the atheists. They were united against us. That’s not the case today. You will even find them slitting one another’s throats tomorrow. In fact, they are the curse of our children’s age.”
“That is deep.”
“Ah, Comrade Boris; let’s avoid talking about that age of the apocalypse. We need some cheering up in the tavern,” Yeremenko cautioned.