It’s been some time since I sat down to enjoy listening to some good music, other than while driving in my car. Lately I came again across a trademark song by Leonard Cohen called SUZANNE.
The lyrics at one point go like this:
And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him, and you want to travel blind
And then you think maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind
Oh dear, a song about Jesus, I hear you say. Well, yes, and no. Leonard Cohen was never a Christian to my knowledge. He was a Buddhist Jew. But these words go beyond Faith and Religion.
First of all, I understand that the author is telling us that we turn to Faith when we are cornered, when we have no one and nothing else to turn to. This, in my experience, is true. Even the greatest atheist has faith in something. I would not go as far as some extremists in calling Atheism a Faith. Atheism is a Faith in the same way Abstinence is a Sex Position. But we all place our faith in something, be it Religion, be it a Political Ideology, be it ourselves. My concern is placing your faith in someone or something that is not worthy of it. Could be a Religious Belief; could be a politician or a political belief; could be a pop star and so on.
Leonard Cohen goes on to praise Jesus in his song as someone who “was broken” for the sake of Salvation of people and that through this, his cult grew to be the greatest on Earth. I am reminded here of another song, this time by The Alan Parsons’ Project called Ammonia Avenue.
Is there no sign of light as we stand in the darkness?
Watching the sun arise
Is there no sign of life as we gaze at the waters?
Into the stranger’s eyes
And who are we to criticize or scorn the things that they do?
For we shall seek and we shall find Ammonia Avenue
If we call for the proof and we question the answers
Only the doubt will grow
Are we blind to the truth or a sign to believe in?
Only the wise will know
And word by word they handed down the light that shines today
And those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray
Yes, those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray
When you can’t hear the rhyme and you can’t see the reason
Why should the hope remain?
For a man will be tired and his soul will grow weary
Living his life in vain
And who are we to justify the right in all we do?
Until we seek, until we find Ammonia Avenue
Through all the doubt somehow they knew
And stone by stone they built it high, until the sun broke through
A ray of hope, a shining light, Ammonia Avenue
Who are we to scoff at what gives solace to another person? Indeed, that is a very important point. As long as the Belief does not harm the community, I would repeat Leonard Cohen’s words – “Let them all be sailors then so that the sea may free them.” The important thing is that believers of whatever religion, party, politician, pop star, etc do not infringe on the rights of others.
The important thing is that believers of whatever religion, party, politician, pop star, etc do not infringe on the rights of others.
If your religion tells you to hate someone else, then maybe, you should question it. If the politician you believe in spreads words of hate and is corrupt, then maybe, it is time to vote him out. If your belief means you need to censor, then you need a new belief.
I read with horror how many of the so-called Patriots refer to the words of Jesus – “Love thy neighbour as you love thyself,” as literally loving those closest to them alone. What about the poor people risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean in search of a better life though? Aren’t they neighbours too? According to these patriots, they are not. According to others, myself included, they are. If these patriots want to believe in God and Jesus it is up to them. But to my knowledge, Jesus spoke words of Love, never of Hate. So how can we abandon sea crossers to their fate and say we are following the word of God?
In conclusion I would say, believe in what you want, in what you feel is right. How do you know whether it is right? If it preaches to defend life, to love ALL others, not to persecute and to cherish life, you are on the right track.