Thought Piece

Overheard in New York.

Perched high on the list of “Things I Would Rather Die Than Do” communal experiences of a New Yorker is the daily commute to work or school *cue collective groan*. Plagued by constant service delays, carts overflowing with people shoulder-to-shoulder whose combined stench provides for an unpleasant ride in an airtight express train,  as well as everyone’s worst nightmare in the middle of a tunnel –“we are being held momentarily due to train traffic ahead of us”–I think it’s safe to say hell might be a better alternative than the inside of the 6 train during rush hour.

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Image Source: The New York Times

The upside, however, is that the rides are hardly boring. Nauseating, maybe, but you can always count on at least a few minutes of entertainment–be it the Earth Angel (though his sightings have been rare in recent years), a lone adolescent selling candy bars, or the occasional break dancers whose pole swinging act is a little too close for comfort.

Take this morning, for instance. The Manhattan-bound B train was moving along at less than snail’s pace. I had forgotten my headphones, a staple in my morning commute, in my coat packet, having neglected to wear the coat in favor of the surprisingly warm November day. My phone was buried in my backpack, and my fellow commiserate/boyfriend was falling asleep before my eyes.

I cast around for something to fix my attention to, and it wasn’t long before I began eavesdropping on the two Russian businessmen beside me engrossed in an animated discussion on their beliefs, namely religion versus science.

Isn’t it illegal or something to discuss age-old controversies at 8 in the morning? I digress.

Though the conversation began in their native tongue, the tone of their conversation flitted between earnest and heated, each determined to drill in the other the solidity of their personal opinions. The more pious man, who at one point revealed his Jewish heritage, made a valid argument against the other, which went along the lines of this.

“In the end, you are being hypocritical. Why? Because our beliefs are both backed by faith. You can dismiss religious theories, but you are ultimately using your convictions in science by the same faith that I have–relying on the fact that all your theories and concepts are factual because of scientists who have done the research, even though you’ve done none of it on your own. You base your belief on the handful of experts with niche scientific backgrounds who say all these things about Earth, and the idea that there are billions of galaxies out there…but how do you know? How can you dismiss religion without giving it the same regard, the same amount of attention and research?”

Barring the question of who made the better argument throughout the train ride, his point was a good one. Having blind beliefs with no ability to back it up is a conflict within many of us, be it religion on any other set of beliefs. Support for a political candidate without possessing deeper knowledge of their platform, ideals, values and plans can lead to disaster.

Whoa, where’d that one come from?

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