One of Julia’s major conclusions – there just is no such thing as God – is interesting. I actually think that I may well intellectually agree with her. An immediate thread fired off in my psyche, and that was this:
What if no one is watching? What if really, no one cares?
I modify my behavior and model my life by inventing omniscient voyeurs. This could well be God, but often it takes a face on of one or both of my children, or people I work with, or friends I hold dear, or my wife. When faced with a dilemma, or when behaving in some way (often a way that makes me feel guilty), I think "what would <insert name here> think if he/she saw me doing this?". I role-play the scene, and then consider modifying my actions. It’s my own version of WWJD. I use others looking at me and watching what I am doing as a way to examine my own behavior. This obviously meshes well with my center-of-attention needs (which I’ve gotten a much better handle on of late, thank you very much) as well as my interest in being liked and admired by others.
So Julia was basically saying that we’re just meat, and there’s nobody watching. We just are, we just do, we just be. We have morals and ethics, but those are ours, not something handed down from an omniscient power.
I don’t like parts of this – e.g. my obsession with outliving my own life through fame or some kind of lasting impact on the world and my interest in creating myth and traditions. The idea that when I die I will simply entirely cease to exist makes me feel lonely and afraid. I hate these parts of her interpretation of reality.
However I am really intrigued by what could happen in my life if I didn’t constantly apply these quasi-external curbs to it. What if no one is watching? What if I wasn’t afraid of what other people think of me? What if people are watching, but I just ignore them? What if I didn’t really care what anyone thinks of me?
What would Peter do?