Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Blame Leary - Part 1

Sometimes, I look at the overall state of things in America, and I can hardly believe it. Things really do suck out there. What gives? I mean, people aren't inherently bad. Most Americans are reasonably smart, reasonably kind and reasonably, um, reasonable. We all tend to want the exact same things out of life. So why is the country so divided?

We didn't dwell on it so much, but we were pretty divided long before George Dubya ever came along. And obviously, the Bush Administration did everything in its power to divide the nation further. The first clue that they'd attempt to do this was in 2000 when Bush ran for president claiming he'd be a uniter, not a divider. Like most everything the Bush puppet says, the truth turns out to be the exact opposite. So, we ended up with the artificial, consciously and carefully manufactured red/blue divide... a very concise shorthand, cementing the metaphorical divide into a concrete wedge.

Of course, the for-profit mainstream news outlets need sensationalism in order to thrive, and making it seem like everything is a heated, down-to-the-wire competition is just good for business, even if it ain't so true. A divided nation certainly keeps people tuning in more than a happy contented unified nation. Unfortunately, when TV keeps spewing the same thing over and over again, enough people do eventually start to believe it, and the next thing you know... it actually becomes true in the real world.

But at this point, the Bush administration has screwed up so many things so heinously that you'd think everybody would've come around by now. Even some former die-hard right-wingers have lost their illusions about the fact that the side they were playing for turned out to be, well, evil (or at least, misguided). Yet Bush still has millions of supporters. How can that be? By rights, his approval rating should've hit 0% a long time ago.

With all the evidence and information currently available to us, how could huge numbers of people actually have voted for George Dubya Bush TWICE? (Even without counting Diebold voting-machine fraud.) Are people really that eager to bring civilization crashing down?

Largely to blame was Karl Rove's master plan to teach Dubya how to act like an Evangelical Christian, solely to gain support of that unbelievably large chunk of the U.S. population. Of course, in truth, George W. Bush is about as close to being a real Evangelical Christian as I am. But there are so many people out there whose faith is so passionate that they couldn't help but want to believe him. And that unfortunate fact has been screwing us ALL over, Evangelicals included, for the last 8 years.

What the--?

What is up with the bloody Evangelical Christians? Why is the United States home to the only significant number of people in the entire developed world (and possibly in the whole world) who don't want their children to learn about science and Darwin, instead insisting that every word in the Bible is literally true and the Earth is only 6000 years old?

How is it possible that 2000 years after Jesus, people who claim to follow the guy can still be so easily manipulated into doing things that would surely make Jesus puke His Holy Guts out?

Well, as we all know, a long time ago the wealthy elites discovered they could use religion to manipulate the masses. Those wacky elites have remained in control by perverting/distorting/obscuring the messages of religious figures, leaders and institutions, keeping the masses down, ever since.

By definition, there are so many more of the masses than there are of the elites that if the common people ever saw their inherent commonality and banded together, nothing could stop them from rising up and squashing the tiny minority of elites. Not that they would ever necessarily do so, as most people just wanna be left alone to live in peace. Still, if you happen to have vast wealth, and happen to be surrounded by huge numbers of people who have next to nothing (perhaps in some measure due to your own efforts) you probably can't help living in constant fear of an uprising.

So, for a long time, the elites have been doing everything possible to prevent the commoners from getting a clue. This has included things like distracting the commoners with all sorts of fanciful but meaningless diversions (e.g.: gladiatorial combat/sports, fashion trends) and instilling fear of enemies from far off lands so that some commoners will be only too glad to sign up to join the armed forces (which the elites pay for). Mostly though, the wealthy elites have had to destroy all true religions and create only false ones, for true religions encourage tolerance for all, love and unity, leading people toward a simple, joyful meaningful life, rich with deep spiritual understanding. False religions pretend to do similar things, but in reality they cut people off from spiritual fulfillment and each other, foster suspicion of those who are different, and create a culture of fear. All mainstream Western religions have been perverted in this manner at one time or another. Maybe all other large religions too. (Not Buddhism though, I don't think -- I digress.)

This problem isn't inherent to "Religion" per se. Though, as with any socio-cultural grouping of imperfect humans, Religion is easily corrupted, especially by greed. For example, in ancient Rome, if the Emperor wanted to drum up support for a war which he hoped would bring him and the rest of the nobility a great deal of wealth (primarily as fertile farmland and new slaves), all he had to do was pay off the priests to rig an augury predicting great success in the battle. "This campaign is favored by the gods!" Well then, I guess we'd be stupid NOT to march off to war!

But then this Jesus character comes along saying how we're all children of the same heavenly father and we should love everybody no matter what, and should turn the other cheek in the face of violence. No good hippie freak! Well, it ain't like anybody's paying attention to him.

WEALTHY ANCIENT ROMAN #1: Um, actually, he's picked up a little band of disciples.
WEALTHY ANCIENT ROMAN #2: Really? What the fuck?!
W.A.R. #1: Is it such a big deal?
W.A.R. #2: Look... if that jewboy's hippie crap catches on, think of the economic slowdown that'll happen when the soldiers suddenly don't feel like going off to kill the Gauls or the Britons or whoever the fuck! [in a whiny voice now] "We don't wanna kill people anymore because Jesus says everybody is a part of the One True God and we're full of love now so we just wanna be nice to people--"
W.A.R. #1: Enough already, you're makin' me sick. Okay, so you're right. Without the conquest and oppression of neighboring peoples and the opportunity to extract the wealth of their lands, our whole way of life is threatened. I promised my wife I'd build her some new vacation homes, and without a constant supply of fresh slaves, I'd have to curtail many of my...
W.A.R. #2: I know about your perversions.
W.A.R. #1: I was going to say, "appetites". Regardless. What do you want to do about the situation?
W.A.R. #2: Well, clearly, we've got to eliminate this Jesus bastard before he makes a lasting impression. Has he written anything down or does he just preach?
WAR#1: So far... just preaches.
WAR#2: Okay good. Let's have him declared a criminal, arrested and executed.
WAR#1: Consider it done.

a few weeks later...

WAR#1: Okay, we've got a problem.
WAR#2: What now?
WAR#1: Remember how we crucified that hippie jew bastard?
WAR#2: Sure, what of it?
WAR#1: Well, some dude said he saw him rise from the dead, and now word is spreading that Jesus really was, like, I dunno, a god or something.
WAR#2: Are you fucking kidding me?!
WAR#1: Nope. His students are goin' around spreading his love messages all the more now, claiming that if you also practice universal unconditional love, you will have life everlasting, just like Jesus.
WAR#2: And people are buying it!? Dude. This sucks.
WAR#1: Tell me about it. Maybe we shouldn't have crucified him after all!
WAR#2: Wait... I think I know a way we can turn this around.
WAR#1: How?!
WAR#2: Well, obviously the common people out there are pretty desperate to believe in something supernatural. So much so, that they're willing to believe some seriously crazy shit. So all we've got to do is fight fire... with fire.
WAR#1: When in Rome, as they say... What do you propose?
WAR#2: Well, Jesus didn't write anything, and not that many people were his direct students, right? So all the masses know is what they've heard. All we have to do is spread some rumors of our own.
WAR#1: Right! So, like, we get people to say "Jesus was a total jerk to me once -- his universal love crap is a sham!" and so forth?
WAR#2: No... I'm thinking we take advantage of the momentum these crazy Jesus stories already have. We gotta get people to forget about his message, right? We don't want anybody actually following his teachings and trying to be all loving and peaceful. So, instead of the message, let's get them to focus all their spiritual longing on the messenger instead. They're already thinking of him as godlike, aren't they?
WAR#1: Riiiiiight! I see where you're going with this now. We get people to reinforce the rumors about how supernatural Jesus was, so obviously the only proper course of action is to worship him. Because no matter what you do, you'll never be able to be like him yourself.
WAR#2: Totally! He was... um... the Son of God Himself! Perfect in every way!
WAR#1: Born of a blessed Virgin!
WAR#2: That's good, but let's not go overboard, I mean, people have to believe this shit, right?
WAR#1: Aww... I like the Blessed Virgin thing.
WAR#2: Well, okay... we'll see. What else? Um... you have to FEAR Jesus because he's so powerful, and if you don't believe in Jesus--
WAR#1: --and ONLY in Jesus--
WAR#2: then you'll burn in hell forever!
WAR#1: YES! So... instead of convincing people to kill the neighboring tribes for us by cutting open a goat and "reading" the guts, or releasing a flock of pigeons and "interpreting" their flight patterns, we'll just tell the teeming masses that Jesus wants them to go out and smite the unbelievers! For their own good!!
WAR#2: HAHA! That's awesome! HAHA!
WAR#2: HAHA... Okay... okay... I gotta catch my breath. Whew! Now... I don't expect all this to happen overnight. It could take a little while before our Jesus cult totally takes off.
WAR#1: Fine with me. I'm just glad we've got a plan.
WAR#2: Right. But in the meantime, we should watch his former students closely and see how things progress. People might start writing stuff down, so we should be prepared to confiscate their texts and scrolls and suppress them. We'll obviously have to supplant them with our own "more accurate" writings, and eventually, people will just accept our version as gospel.
WAR#1: Excellent.

to be continued...


Melodie said...

Your posts are insightful, but before we can blame anyone, you have to be put in their shoes. I believe that I am quite intelligent and I didnt grow up with evolution. Its more of a loss of innocence parents are concerned with, we dont want our kids to grow up too fast, theyre learning more, being inundated with more info, and stability is a big deal in the developing years.

Dont assume just b/c kids dont learn about evolution, theyll be intellectually crippled for life and vice-versa, just b/c u learn creation story doesnt mean kids will hang on to that for life. Give people some credit. If anything, I think it will help them to THINK.

I think thats more important than any info crammed down our throats as kids, learning to think. Think of all the stuff u learned, and found out it was wrong. It's part of the learning and maturing process.

Scientists and historians mess up all the time, we fix it though.

Dr. Brainwave said...

Hi Melodie,

Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate hearing from you! (Makes me feel better to know somebody out there is, you know, paying attention.)

I didn't really intend to come off like I'm "blaming" anyone. I was kind of using the word ironically. And the person I was "blaming" was LSD-guru Timothy Leary (which I only got around to explaining in a more recent post).

I'm actually not that concerned about whether kids learn about evolution or not. Interesting that you would comment on that when it was such a minor part of that post.

I happen to believe that there is an intelligence underlying all of existence. Though I also believe that evolution is part of how this intelligence expresses itself in our time-space realm. The media, and many scientists and clergy tend to make it seem as if science and religion are at odds (because it's more "fun" to watch people argue than it is to watch them agree). But I think spirituality is part of everything, science included, and that science is (or ought to be) part of everything, spirituality included. All it takes is an open mind. Which it seems like you value as well, so I'm grateful.

You make a good point in that there were plenty of things I was taught that turned out to be wrong. But you say that's a good thing, as it's part of the learning and maturing process for kids to discover the truth on their own later in life. I would disagree with that, only because when I discovered some big things I'd been taught were wrong, it made me very angry, as I felt like I'd been lied to by people I had trusted (teachers, parents, clergy, etc.). And the result of this, for me, was that I stopped trusting authority figures. I rebelled quite hard. And obviously, that kind of behavior puts you on a much more difficult path through life, especially in your adult years.

Now, not all kids will have that reaction. But some definitely will, and you can't tell which ones will until they do. And by then, it's probably too late. I can understand not wanting our darling little babies to grow up too soon, or suffer the inevitable loss of innocence too early in life, but I don't see how presenting them with fascinating scientific ideas could possibly hurt them (or us) in any way. Kids are natural explorers! The world is endlessly amazing to them.

If we present our children with material that turns out to be wrong, we should correct it, as you say. I can't imagine anybody wanting to teach their children things they know to be false (well, except about Santa Claus - haha). But Evangelical communities do teach their children things which are obviously incorrect, and not all children figure out the truth eventually. Many adult Evangelicals keep on insisting that the earth is only 6000 years old. This is the same as claiming it is flat. If people want to believe it, I'm certainly not going to stop them, but I'm also not going to hire them to pilot an airplane or a boat!

But even that isn't the real problem as far as I'm concerned. The whole evolution vs. creation / science vs. religion stuff is not the problem, but rather just a symptom of the real problems which are a bit deeper. Here are some:

1. If someone insists that science is wrong, then they can't contribute to our better understanding of the world around us, and that diminishes humanity.

2. When people insist that every word of the Bible is to be taken LITERALLY, they don't recognize the fact that metaphors were written into the Bible on purpose, to help teach us valuable lessons. Without recognizing that fact, we cannot benefit from the power and wisdom of these metaphors. So, basically, millions of people are missing the point of this Holy Book, aren't learning what they're supposed to be, and this hurts us all.

3. The Evangelical community has gained the reputation (whether rightly or wrongly) of not being interested in facts. Some of their religious beliefs do give credence to that reputation. So the political leaders they have supported see no problem in ignoring facts also. The Bush administration, which was only able to come into office because of the massive support of the Evangelicals, has famously ignored many MANY facts which have all turned out to have been extremely important, and the results have been monumentally disastrous over and over and over again. No amount of putting myself into their shoes can free the Evangelicals from the responsibility they share for the actions of the "leaders" which their blind, unquestioning, fact-ignoring faith has put into office. For the rest of us, who could see all along what a monster the Bush/Cheney machine was, the last 8 years have been unspeakably horrible. There is simply no way to state this loudly enough.

Thankfully, even many Evangelicals have finally started coming around to seeing the truth about the people they voted for. Of course, it's all too little too late for the people of New Orleans. Not to mention 100,000 innocent Iraqis.

I do truly hope I haven't offended you with my words. I know I can be a bit acerbic, and irreverent, and intentionally provocative. But I'd love to be able to keep lines of communication open to all sorts of people, ESPECIALLY those who have insights I lack, and/or opinions and beliefs which differ from mine. There is so much I'd like to learn.