TEARS IN THE RAIN
The Ignorant and Superstitious
It’s a shame so many are so ignorant and superstitious at the start of the 21st Century. We, as a species, thought so well of ourselves – technologically transcendent, having come so far from the primitive days of ancient Egyptian ritual – but we’re still beset by competing, often violent myths, most trailing up out of the deep dark bowels of imagination, the legacy of long-dead ignorant, superstitious zealots. They contest with one another like gladiators in the arena. It’s kill, or be killed. The message of tolerance within most is swamped by fanaticism and vengeance.
It’s also true that few people relish being told that their lives are entirely informed by a fantasy. If not that, what? The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle applied to the universe of the mind? Life is chaotic in beginning, progress and end. Only change is constant. Random elements always transform what was thought to be solid and immutable. Religion attempts parental reassurance of the night-frightened child. However, if a child is encouraged to grow up, to take responsibility for his/her own life and actions – given careful nurture and good information – that child will become a fully contributing self-actualizing adult worth knowing. He/she will grow up with the tools needed to deal successfully with life. They won’t need a fable to lean upon for they shall have the truth (which is so much better). If one regards the earth as if it were as close to heaven as one is likely to get, one might actually take better care of it.
No Guarantee of Heaven.
We have no guarantee of heaven (even if you believe evidently – there’s a gyp). There is no proof of an afterlife. The only testimony we have is anonymous, contradictory and inconsistent; miracles – supposedly the most important evidence – entirely unproved. Despite an ardent desire to believe in life beyond the grave, the only things we know, for sure, are that we’re on earth now and we shall die. Anyone who pretends to know more is a liar or a fool and not to be trusted, or solicited for advice. Do not give them your wallet.
Now we can sit and take it (oppression, war, hunger, etc.), or we can work to make things better right now where we are. There’s no need for god to command good works, because any nit knows that a clean room is better than a dirty one. There’s no need to renounce god, either, because however you got the weird brain you have, I’m pretty sure we’re not supposed to use it to blind ourselves in order to live more comfortably in our own filth with the deceit of a wished-for hereafter. What about morality, you ask? What about it? We have an embedded moral compass within us. We call it the “conscience;” religion isn’t necessary to activate it. Perhaps natural selection programmed us for a conscience as a survival tool; people “fighting for the right” often triumph in all sorts of otherwise impossible situations; and those fighting for each other do better than mean-spirited loners fighting only for themselves.
Do good, feel good; do bad, feel bad. There’s a physiological response: eyes squint when we’re sinners, widen when we’re angels. The change in light affects psyche. Say it doesn’t. On sadly too frequent occasions a conscience is on the blink, warped, or absent altogether: e.g. Ted Bundy, or George W. Bush. Bad and good acts are self-identifying. We instinctively know which is which. Gandhi said, “there is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” Poverty is the worst form of violence – global corporate trade agreements not withstanding. Bad is pain; good is love. Make love, not war. Gibbon wrote, “Let the gods vindicate their own honor.” War is especially bad in a religious cause, because it’s a hypocritical denial and suppression of “god’s” compass by those supposed to know better.
Reason is a gift.
Reason is “god’s” gift, if ever there was one; it is a sin not to use it. The brain was given to us to reason our way through the universe as revealed by the architecture of the spheres. So it has always been, without myths, but where we did not know, or see, or understand that sacred architecture, we may invent it, and that’s the birth of religion: born in ignorance via superstition driven by fear of the unknown and death. Revealed religion inevitably segregates and stigmatizes: “I have the truth and I’ll kill anyone who disagrees with me.”
People have to study revealed religion; it is not a natural phenomenon. Religions all have definitive books “inspired by god,” but written, edited, altered and abused by secretive anonymous self-interested men. If you don’t know the history, you can’t understand the problem. The con man dangles a prize while he picks your pocket. Resist those who purport to decide what’s best for you and force you to remain a child in need of parental guidance – “god,” as interpreted by priest, mullah, rabbi, yogi, preacher, etc. is a controlling device, a harness for the oxen. “God” frees, religion enslaves. “God” is truth; religion is fiction. For “God” read “Good.”
Wake everyone up.
Okay, since we can’t wake everyone up and most don’t appear to want to be awakened for whatever reason, what can we do that’s of any positive merit to relieve the world’s beleaguered and highly endangered condition?
That is the question.
Lives lived with certainty are suddenly suspect. People unsure of themselves: they wonder, are we who we think we are? Or is it all about to change? Is there a future? Is that future unremittingly grim and bleak, with only a fool’s paradise winking at the end as a promissory note in a fat preacher’s eye?
Every generation has lived with a sense of its own end, mortality pure and simple; and, the desire to see the whole world end when one personally ends is understandable; a childish, “If I can’t have it, no one can.” It’s also a nag reaffirming one’s own “rightness” within the general “wrongness” of the world. Again, a childish desire, “Somebody must pay.” Ergo, there must be a terrible omnipotent tax collector with a ruthless collection policy to force painful restitution for the evil done us in this too, too brief life.
Understanding begets me nothing very substantial in a materialistic way. The human swarm scurries on raping and looting, feeding and breeding, insensitive, often insensate, short-lived, short-willed and short-sighted. Few want to know – actually know. It’s such a sad state of affairs of entirely no consequence. That’s the rub: all the caring and sharing, alarm, confusion and concern are for nothing – “sound and fury signifying nothing.” Our (most of us) cosmic yearning for eternity is the laughingstock of the universe. Just for an instant is this fleeting hour, a brief candle swiftly snuffed out. Understanding begets me nothing very useful in an eternal sort of way. I must “believe” (so they say, but they don’t really know, they hope and call it belief: a special form of hope, farther than wish and creatively virtual, with physio-chemical self-delusion to thrill, bemuse, corrupt and convince that what is imagined is real).
Blinded by prejudice.
Religion is mind enslavement. Even our scholars are blinded by its prejudice in their lives. Vision is clouded by illusion. You might not have listened to my ideas, if I hadn’t sand-bagged you, gradually drawing you deeper and deeper into my mystery, unraveling religion as we go. Taking you all the way back to see its very mundane roots.
Human beings evidently need to believe in a higher power as an instrument of survival, both temporal and eternal, in order to be all they can be. The fact that we do it in gang, or tribal faction is a function of biology and anthropology. Religion persists in a realm of barbarous ignorance, primitive superstition, and primeval community; as we gathered closer around the fire and night beasts howled in the stormy dark. There is little division between witch doctor and priest. The religious promisers and promise keepers have given us chaos and destruction. Their gift to the world that suffered them is nothing less than planetary death. Surely, only an idiot depends on prayer when he’s in real need.
What of god or gods?
But what of god or gods? Believe in one, believe in all; believe in one’s self as one cell in the divine, purposeful, or useful, short-lived, or not. “How do you know that you’re god?” the butler asked the lord. “Because when I’m talking to god,” the lord replied, “I discover that I’m actually talking to myself.”
What is the value of human survival? Why does it matter? To whom does it matter? Does it serve any particular end? How does one know? It may matter to you and me personally, but it may not matter at all cosmically.
The purpose of life is life. The meaning of life is life. All the rest is what we make of it. It is only what we will it to be, or are willing to accept.
CHIEF SEALTH: It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. A few more moons; a few more winters – and not one of the descendents of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the white man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see. – Chief Sealth, addressing a treaty negotiating party, 1855.
Is it time yet? Keep on keepin’ on. j