Monday, February 19, 2007

The Opium of the Cheap Shot

Pat Robertson calls for assassination of a foreign leader. Others cry for an end to Harry Potter's “Satanism.” The Islamists are coming, the Islamists are coming, to take our freedom away. AIPAC is brokering influence and war deals. The Pope is on the warpath. Hollywood is converting to Scientology. Bush's oracles warn him of an Evil Empire, like Papa Reagan before him, except Reagan was fighting a long-established enemy, an empire with an upfront army. And Reagan's Evil Empire collapsed before our very eyes. Reagan's astrologers had a better grip on reality than Bush's evangelical oracles. Bush's Evil Empire is not a defined thing, but rather an amorphous Empire that keeps expanding within and without, like the Enemies of Communism who were Enemies of the People, who could be your own mother, right? Evil is everywhere. Atheists claim that evil is Religion itself, and Republicans were damn near to saying Democrats are Evil, unless they make a fast right turn. But what we do know, is it seems religion is everywhere - on the march... it's On to Armageddon...

Or at least, in the rhetoric. And talk is cheap. Cheap shots are so easy. So handy. Religion is a great motivator, and so now we use it in our sales pitches. Sell a war with a 30-second spot. Keyword: terrorist. Keyword: threat, danger. Keyword: fear. And the message to the rest of the world, is: bow down to the god-filled church of Americanism - or we'll invade. Like hell. We'll oust your government and hang 'em high, and to hell with the consequences. We don't need good reasons. Any lie will do. And our people will believe. 'Cause they're all Believers. Except the godless, from the Evil Church of Liberalism. Sic 'em, Lady Fascisma! Deliver us from Evil.

This brilliant foreign strategy has its rewards. The world is awash in religious battle. Jews kill Muslims, Shi’a kill Sunnis and vice versa, "Westerners" kill "Islamofascists" and "Islamofascists" kill "Infidels" and the whole thing is like a fantasy gone amok. In reality, it IS a fantasy gone amok. None of this makes any sense, none of this has the slightest thread of logic, none of this does anything but threaten survival of the species. And thanks to Superpower's lead, the whole world is embroiled. The net result being what? Cheap oil? Is that what the bloodbath's all about? Are we engaging in empire-building? Of course we are!!! We just change the words. It's called "Savior to the World from WMD's". Failing that, it's "Saving the World for Democracy". Or, how about "Making the World Safe for Israel"? But unlike the Jesus model, this is "We Save You By Force." Gee, pop, I don't remember democracy was s'posed to be by force, was it in your day, pop?

So brilliant faith-based Armageddon foreign policy gets guys like Osama bin Laden out of the mountains and into the skies. Yes, we are now being invited to Islam with the same great sales pitch we invited them to Christianity, Democracy and the American Way, whatever those are in Bush's "vision". Here's the great pitch (and really, who can resist?):

"I hereby invite you to my religion, otherwise known as The Only Right and True Religion, and if you refuse to enter this religion AND PRETTY MUCH NOW, we will attack you with all we've got. "

And then, to make it "work", attack the "enemy" with all you've got. All we have to argue about now is, who did it first? We say "they did it first! so we've gotta retaliate!" and they say "they've been doing much worse stuff all along, and we only hit them when we couldn't take it any more!" We say "We're defending our Homeland." They say "We're defending our Homeland." And it's safe to say only one thing - you guys are all on the same page. So why don't you all go back to your Homelands and for God's sake defend them?

There's nothing quite worse than a self-proclaimed Savior who roams the world jump-starting catastrophes wherever he goes. Usama should defend Saudi Arabia. DHS should start defending America. Not from the people we allege to welcome at the Statue of Liberty, which people include refugees, yes even Arab and Muslim refugees, and Mexicans looking for survival in the form of dirt-pay jobs. We should defend America from the people who are on the same page as the Bush Administration is, for whom religion IS government and/or vice versa. Those are not Christians or Muslims. Those are loose cannons, out of control. Their enemies are everywhere, and the list is growing; their friends are few, and thinning by the hour. Are we going to let this bi-polar "vision" get out of hand?

Where's the separation of "church" and "state"? That was supposed to keep this thing from foaming at the mouth. So who crossed what line, and is a sinister Religious Empire Impulse within threatening our democracy? From whose side?

Everybody's taking sides - WE are good and THEY are evil. Deliver US, not THEM, from Evil. Amen. People form camps. They start battles, then wars, then casualties, then fallout. There must be something wrong with religion. Religion is Evil, say the Atheists. But is Religion the problem? Is government the problem?

In Islam, all people are considered "spiritual", and therefore all people have religion(s). Atheism, according to this definition, is a religion. The way people choose to set up their belief system, their moral/spiritual imperatives and priorities, is their "religion". I think this definition has validity, and is useful in approaching the subject of Religion v. Government. In this sense, it is even more important that government - whose job is to establish a just rule of law and a measure of order and social stability - NOT legislate, mandate, enforce, control, or represent Religion - any religion.

In other words, if one were to apply the above definition accurately to this issue, you would have NO government interference in religion, and there MUST be complete freedom of religion. To do otherwise leads to totalitarianism and despotism. At the same time, Religion - insofar as it means a person's belief-system - should NOT legislate, mandate, enforce, control, or represent Government - any government. To do otherwise leads to anarchy and/or fascism. Why?

Religion is the expression of our spirituality, of what is meaningful to us, of going beyond limits, of purpose, of what connects us to eternity, or infinity, of what is beyond the immediate borders and limitations we have. To invite atheists into the malaise, think if it as fractals - the geometric figures whose perimeter is infinite and whose area is finite. We need the finite, e.g., limits, laws, checks and balances, equations and mathematics, police, and the scientific method. And we need the infinite - e.g., religion, the arts, music, media, literature, drugs (a more destructive expression of that need), dreams, and last, but not least, love. We need both, and we need them separate.

If religion becomes government - tries to order, control, and police our lives - we lose religion itself. Its very essence is and must be free. It's been said "you can't legislate morality." Even more so, you can't force faith, or rule by "beliefs". Laws must have checks and balances, and limits, to create and enforce justice and social stability. When religion and its link to the Infinite and Eternal enters into the rule of law, checks and balances lose their power. The Purpose, the Limitless, the Endless, justifies the Means. Gut feeling replaces law and precedent. Intuition trumps logic. Armageddon trumps Utopia. War trumps diplomacy. And micromanagement trumps hands-off government, freedom of thought, speech, choice. Welcome to the Bush Administration. Welcome to Saudia West.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking Arab traditions, just Saudi family hegemony. I actually am convinced that the Age of the Caliphs, that halcyon Dream of every Martyr, was actually far different, and more democratic, than what gets tossed around as the idea of a so-called Islamic State. In reality, the original Islam had freedom of religion, speech, education, was promoting women's rights, abolishing (gradually) slavery, and generally didn't look like the sort of government/religion combo the New Islamic Order proponents present to eager Evil-seeking Western Neocon eyes. The two sort of gravitate, like an emotional high - Hate at First Sight. Hey, it works: Soul Enemies.

Vision bashes vision in a cool, galactic fantasy battle whose biggest victims are:
1) A planet, formerly known as Earth; and
2) A species, formerly known as Homo Sapiens (scrap the “sapiens”, guys).

Someone’s got to get a grip on the fact that freedom needs plurality, not homogeneity. And survival also depends on it. Religion, to be really working, has to be free. Government, to be truly just, must be of and by free people. And people by nature are diverse and diversify. All the various religions and cultures of the world would do better to relish their diversity rather than attempt to conquer it. What made the Soviet Union collapse was not really Ronald Reagan (sorry folks) but the same thing that makes everything living die - lack of oxygen. “Oxygen“ being banned with the prohibition of religion, art, free expression, all that we wrap up in our concept of the spirit or soul. That side is our oxygen. But without limitations and checks and balances, cancer ensues, ending up with …lack of oxygen and death. Nothing really good ever comes of force-feeding.

Tell that to the war-mongers. Better yet, tell them that no democracy or freedom was ever won by torture. It never happened, never will happen. And that’s something religion and government may possibly get together on - you might call it common ground:
No force, no torture, no lies, no aggression against sovereign nations, no breaking your own rules! And you can’t cover it up with cheap shots.

Cheap shots are just opium for couch potato diplomacy. The scene is set: you’re watching people kill each other mercilessly over someone wearing shorts; you’re watching the gates of hell open up in Baghdad. Face it. Beer just won’t work. You need opium. You need cheap shots, right? “They’re not really people - they’re ‘terrorists’!”
“They’re not like you - they’re Evil.”

Aren’t we helping the Iraqis getting out of this by being their police force? We should try it in Detroit. Send in the Dutch! Detroitians obviously can’t handle their problems. They need experienced negotiators, notoriously non-violent, people who know how to handle drugs and drug problems, the Grand Duchy of Progressivism. Yes, embrace the Invasion. And of course, in return for their multi-billion-Euro investment, the Netherlands will own the entire auto industry and the people in it. It’s a model for world law enforcement. Let’s apply Bush Standards (B.S.) at home!

Yes, Mr. Falwell, there is a pew for you in the god-filled Church of Conservatism, and a podium, too. Just get the hell of it out of government. And get the Dutch out of Detroit. Maybe we can actually go back on the Gold Standard: the human mind. Maybe then we can put the brakes on Armageddon.

Armageddon burns more gas than it gives. Trust me. It won’t help that you’re all stoned out of your minds on cheap shots. You can’t come up with a good plan when your minds are shot. Try to jump-start your brains first.

Just say “no” to B.S.

No comments: