Math professor John Allen Paulos, finding himself in an internet cafe in Thailand on Christmas day, helps some women with their English as they chat up their overseas boyfriends.
And great fun it was helping the girls dupe farangs on three continents out of their money via the Western Union office in town.
After a while, however, the pain underlying the men’s instant messages began to weigh on me. The girls had taken to reading me all the messages, and it was clear that most of the men were somewhat forlorn. They seemed to be unmarried, isolated, and searching for a connection, for some sort of emotional salvation. My supercilious attitude toward them and the idealized fantasies they had constructed was morphing into empathy.
Since it took place on Christmas day, this vignette comes to mind when I meet people who seem to have a fierce yearning to believe, whether in a person or a divinity.
… though I don’t believe in God, I do believe in love, even deluded love. All I’m sure of is that I don’t want to scoff too much at yearning and need, whether it be for love or for a divinity. I just don’t possess the latter.
Spot on. We all need to show compassion for the little delusions which give us comfort. After all, we each have so many of our own.