Ghosts, spooks and other stuff that is not related to writing

Inspired by a bit of an argument I had on a forum yesterday, I felt like flooding you with some random ranting about spooks. For the purposes of this document (or any general discourse with me), I tend to use the term “spook” as a catch-all for any kind of spectral, spiritual or ephemeral entity, fictional or real. It doesn’t imply anything other than it is non-physical in nature. I’m sure someone out there will disagree with my terminology; that’s fine. It works for me, and now you know how I choose to use it, and that’s all that matters for this moment in time.

A little background on the argument. Essentially it boils down to several people stating that believing in spooks of any stripe marks you indelibly as an idiot, a mental defective, or a small child. Any attempt to point out the possibility, or provide anecdotes (personal or shared) of something other than natural phenomena was quickly shouted down and the speaker decried as an imbecille who should be banned from teh interwebz

Given my background, I found this infuriating for a number of reasons. I’ll warn you all right here and now: I believe in ghosts. I do not feel the need to force that belief on others, nor do I particularly care if, when I am forced to share the stories that led to my belief structure, others believe or not. I’ve seen what I’ve seen, I’ve done what I’ve done. If you somehow think this implies I must be a moron or deranged, then that’s your choice. One that bugs me, to a certain degree, but not one I’m desperate to talk you out of. If you believe that and feel the need to descend en masse to inform me of how stupid/psychotic/whatever that makes me, then we’re probably not going to get along too well, so you should probably skip the rest of this post and pretend it doesn’t exist.

What amused me the most about the individuals involved in this particular incident – and in previous ones that I’ve had the misfortune of witnessing – is the apparently disproportionate number of the “attackers” who claim some religious or spiritual belief. I find it difficult to grasp how someone could devote themselves to a religion (especially one of the Big Three) and yet consider it moronic to believe in spooks; I mean, their holy texts are full of ghosts, angels and demons (with occasional other additions or specific types, like dybbuk or djinn.) So buying into the idea of a benevolent overlord in the skies (or the pit, or the stars, or wherever your flavor of higher or lower power hangs out) is totally acceptable, but the lower ranks of spectral appearances just don’t count or mark you as a moron? Doesn’t make much sense to me. Besides, while I have seen and experienced enough things to categorically prove – to myself, if no one else – that spooks of several flavors are probably out there, I’ve yet – and I suspect this is true of most of these folks as well – to see that burning bush, angelically veiled face or other indication of 90% or better proof of those higher/lower powers. (Note, I’m not saying those things don’t/can’t exist, or that you’re an idiot if you think they do. Just that I feel I have more proof that dead folks sometimes don’t leave than those other things.)

Now I’ll be the first to admit there are some nuts out there. That’s true of anything that has yet to be scientifically proven (and quite a few things that have been.) I know there is always a contingent at the edge of any field of interest or inquiry who will be almost psychotically obsessed with it, seeing the marks of their pet conspiracy, theory or hallucination blooming everywhere and trumpeting it as loudly as they can, drowning out the more rational or questioning sorts. That’s practically guaranteed to gain all the attention and brand anyone who has even vaguely similar ideas with the “nutjob” brush. I get it, I really do. Doesn’t make it right, or fair. Especially when the naysayers become just as crazily dogmatic as the people they claim are their intellectual inferiors.

So, as a personal plea to everyone listening, I’ll ask you this: Before you decide to attack someone for their beliefs, take a second to assess them. Actually think about it, from as close to an objective viewpoint as you can. Contemplate if there is any possibility that there might be a grain of truth in that person’s idea – not necessarily in their specific branding of it or the extreme to which they might be taking it, but the core idea itself – and maybe attempt to have a rational discussion about why that person thinks this. You might find there’s more out there than you previous believed… and if not, at least you’ve used that nifty thing we were all born with to learn about something. It’s not like it’ll hurt; we’re not even using a tenth of our brainpower, so you can spare a few extra cells for a new idea or two, I promise. It’s also not liable to infect and destroy your personality; contrary to popular belief insanity isn’t really catching, and if you know who and what you are that should be enough to protect you from “those evil tin-foil hats.” If you don’t have that strength of will and personality, then I think there’s something wrong to be questioned other than the opposing beliefs that have managed to irritate you so.

I think I’ve babbled enough, so I’ll give it a rest. If anyone has ghost stories to share, rational discourse regarding the pros or cons of spectral beings existing or is nuts enough to wonder about the things that led me to my belief in such things, let us know down below in the comments. Until next time…

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