I dont know, Beta

I don’t know, Beta

Beta is a typical Urdu / Hindi word that people use in their everyday life when they talk to people younger to them. While the literal meaning of word Beta means Son, the word is generally used as a kind and friendly gesture to not only boys but to girls as well. But this article isn’t about the word Beta, it’s rather about the other part of the title “I don’t know” …

We dont know

I was going through an old photo album and showing some really old family pictures to my kids when suddenly I saw a photo of Usman Uncle, one of the best friends of my father, in the photo he was wearing his usual thick glasses, handsomely dressed with a typical intellectual style and his eyes will immediately tell you that he is a man of deep thoughts.

The moment I saw his picture, it reminded me one of my encounters with him. He had converted one of his rooms into a kind of library, he must have had around 1000 (in fact more than that) books in that room. Couple of rocking chairs where he and his wife would sit and enjoy reading their books under the dim light of a classical Victorian style of Lamp. Now, when I recall, it reminds me that he had the books of authors that we consider classics these days, Nietzsche, Fruede, Mark Twain, Allama Iqbal, Rabindar Nath Tagore, Khalil Jibran … you name it and I’m sure he must have had something from that author. Usman Uncle was a man of few words, he would remain quite most of the time and only speak when you ask him a question. To be honest, a lot of people used to make fun of him and he was known as a Crazy Person in the social circle.

My encounter with Usman Uncle happened during one day when I saw his books. I was puzzled and wanted to know why he needs to read so many books and how reading books help him in any way. He tried his best to explain in simple words and then usually as it happens our discussion turned towards the typical discussion where kids take it to. I asked him if he has seen God and if he knows who created this earth and us. His answer was “I don’t know, Beta”. I quickly realized that I was wasting my time and all those people were actually right, he is just a crazy person who doesn’t even know who created the earth and us after reading so many books and all. Even my primary school books tell me that God made this earth and the life on this planet and the name of that God is Allah. What a waste of time, I should go out now and play with my friends, I have all the answers without reading those classic books while all he says is “I don’t know, Beta”

A lot of people do not understand that the history of agnosticism is as old as the history of Religions itself. Religion asserts and the agnosticism asks for an evidence. Theists like to point out to the universe and life and assume that nothing could be a better evidence than what is around us. Only if they could understand / grasp this idea that whatever they see around them could equally be used by another Theist desperate to prove that their God is the real one.

Fast forward three decades and here I am today. Only if I knew what he wanted to say through those powerful three words “I Dont Know”, how honest he was and what kind of Harsh Reality he was trying to convey to us …

Throughout the history people have asserted and wished that what they believe is the truth. The version of this “Truth” settles down with a new interpretation after every few centuries and takes a completely new turn after some more discoveries by the mankind but yet the humans don’t like to admit that they don’t know. They don’t know what is out there, if there is anything out there. May be someone knows, may be no one knows but as Carl Sagan says “We have a good reason for humility” …

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