April 2nd, 2005

Eject! Eject! Eject!

You know...

I ran away from the Roman Catholic church when I was around 12, in 5th grade. That's when I really realized I Just Didn't Buy It, and I started going my own way. I was in RC school through 6th grade, but in the end I was just going through the motions and had actively started challenging the instructors with evolution and the like. Since then I have had pretty much no use for religion in my life. I suppose I'm agnostic - but apathetic is more like it. I don't know, and I don't care, if there is a god or gods. I believe in the power of will and of self, in personal responsibility, logic, science, and technology.

But, with all that, the news of John Paul II's impending death saddens me. While I really don't respect the office - I respect the man. Sure, I violently disagree with him on many things - like abstinence instead of condoms, reproductive rights in general, etc - but I admire what he's done, the background he came from, and the apparent strength of his convictions and his will. And, for me, he's basically *always* been 'the Pope'. I vaguely remember when he was elected in 1978 - I was 7. I remember the process, the colored smoke signaling the election, etc. But I don't remember jack about the man he replaced. So for me when someone says 'The Pope' I have always pictured JP2. Any my adopted family is Polish - Bikowicz - and my paternal grandmother, great-grandmother, great-aunts, etc, were pretty much all very religious. There was/is a Polish community in Schenectady, and they attended a RC church with a Polish priest - who's also been there forever it seems. They had pictures of JP2 hanging in their homes - he was an important figure to them not just because he was Pope - but he was a Pole. They seemed to have a kind of patriotic pride in a fellow Pole holding such a position. I suppose some of that probably rubbed off on me - despite my, genetically, not being Polish. :-)

While I disagree with some of his views, and I can't stomach the church's dogma, to me he is, in the end, a great man. His death will leave a void in the world, he's always striven for the betterment of people everywhere - for peace, for freedom, for decency. He's set a very high watermark - I have the feeling that, no matter who replaces him, they'll seem lesser because of the man they follow. (Bad brain - do not compare that to Jay Leno replacing Johnny Carson...) JP2 has always seemed like a genuinely good, caring man. In some way, I'll really miss him.
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