Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Honorable mention — College essay contest: Kyle Morse

Vol. 36 No. 07 September 2019
Kyle Morse                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

By Kyle Morse

The paradoxical irony of John Lennon’s “Imagine” is a tragic reflection of the ideologies that have long consumed the minds and lives of human civilization. Ever since humankind adopted the collective conception that the Earth we fortuitously inhabit is not enough, our insatiable appetite for meaning and existential gratification has led us down a one-way path in search of a supplication for permanence. This illuminates the irony of “Imagine”: We are so far removed from the notion of a temporal reality that Lennon’s depiction of a world rooted in that reality has to be visualized through the fragile veil of imagination. Lennon’s self-appointed tag as a dreamer is heavily connoted with his trademarked whimsical spirit, but has a yearning undertone in that the world he imagines may only exist in the shared dreams of fellow renegades who swim against the main current. Lennon may indeed have believed that the course of humanity is beyond repair, but that didn’t stop him from spreading the idea of a better world that we can create.

The promises of religion are all based in the principles of comfort. Comfort against the unperceivable terror of nothingness, the threatening specter of futility, and the unthinkable possibility that humans do not reside atop a natural hierarchy of spiritual selection. The allure is undeniable, but the ramifications are inexorable. When we look past the sky in search of the heavens, we miss the sublime display of natural harmony and the infinite span of the universe. When we look at the ground in fear of an evil-producing underworld lurking below, we overlook the cruelty that is afflicted on innocents every day in the name of salvation. Living in the here and now — the true here and now, free of the seduction of the afterlife and existential certainty — requires sacrificing of the comforts that religion offers. However, accepting temporality is as liberating as it is terrifying. Confronting the certainty of uncertainty changes us down to the deepest reaches of our being.

The way I see it, why we’re alive at this point in time and space is an unanswerable enigma. What it means for me to be alive boils down to a simple concept: I want to be happy. I want to love and to be loved, to laugh and to smile, and to do enough good where I can look back on my time spent on this planet as having a sense of purpose. Purpose isn’t something one is born with and tasked with fulfilling, but rather is a continuously evolving series of personal philosophy and subjective cognition — the ultimate pillar of free will. Though it has been romanticized into a grandiose conclusion for the odyssey of life, destiny is the enemy of free will. Destiny is a frame of mind that holds people captive, gripping onto the vague promise that life’s currents will sweep you off where you were meant to be, good or bad, and that can’t be changed. Life’s currents are fierce, make no mistake about that. Storms come without warning and the tide is ever-changing, but we are not merely helpless drifters in the sea of life. We are the captains of our own ship and makers of our own fate. The “big picture” is no longer denoted to a conclusion, but rather is the singular moment that envelops all life. Lennon’s world and ideas may only exist in the minds of anomalistic free thinkers, but that does not dilute from the transcendent power of free will and furthered capacity for appreciation granted to the individual that serves the singular moment. The glimmer in Lennon’s eye reflected a world of transient purity, and he’s not the only one.

Kyle, 22, is from Parker, Colo., and attends the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. His passions are literature and baseball and he hopes to be a writer after graduation.