Now the right wing glue-sniffers are attacking ACORN, Justice Sotomayor, Aunt Jemima, Mr. Bojangles, and (acting) President Barak Hussein Obama. Next up: Al Jolson.
I suppose it all started when the Egyptians, in a brief moment of sanity, released the Jews from bondage to spend forty years trying to understand why freedom wasn’t truly free. There was certainty in bondage, even if such certainty was miserable. Humans are nothing if not adaptable, and if given a choice between a duel of wits with the Sinai Desert , or trusting the largesse of a benevolent dictator, most people tend to lean towards the devil they know. Onward through the fog of victimization and the tyranny of oppression.
As “free” men and women, we are free to wander the desert for as long as we wish, but I know of no human person who could, or would, tolerate being lost anywhere with their family for forty minutes, let alone forty years – and that goes double for being lost in any kind of a desert. Methinks the whole “forty years” narrative was an allegory…on the banks of the Nile…with or without meaningful interpretation.
The choice to opt for freedom does not come easy to anyone at any time – or at any level of psycho-emotional development. Like most things in life, freedom is a process and processes can be thought of as having bony elbows and hardened knees. Most everyone realizes this important fact unless they happen to be a teenaged child or young adult. In which case I am an advocate of tripping the little darlings, saving the rougher fare for the thirty-five year old non-relatives who have not learned to discriminate between bull feces and shoe polish.
Ethnocentrists – a polite term for racist – seem to possess the fecund, counterfactual imagination that one, or a basket of, ethnicities offer all that could possibly be necessary for human life to sustain itself on this planet and beyond. If we maintain open-mindedness long enough to follow this line of reasoning to some definitive conclusions, we arrive at such treasures as, “we can see accurately well into the future,” and, “we have supernatural powers not possessed by others.” While absurd on their face, such beliefs are not far-fetched leaps of logic beyond the “faith” required to believe that dead people can reanimate themselves, or that we are all under the moral surveillance of an omniscient sky-spook whose job it is to mete out justice to one and all – simultaneously. And while this paints most every religion with a broad brush, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the latest heap of effluent tossed onto the American political stage has been primarily the work of a fundamentalist, Zionist subculture within the United States which believes that humans fed dinosaurs, willingly and unwillingly, and that the entire planet is only 6,000 years old. The zeal possessed by this subculture extends well past the point of credulity, past mere delusional thinking and lands smack into the outright insanity of, “it is because I was reared to believe that it is so.” In point of fact, the zealously religious are among the most racist creatures on the face of this planet. In activating the fear-based core components of any religion – be they phantasmagorical or merely perceptually-based science – we virtually ensure the emergence of racism and prejudices of all kinds to rear their ugly, demented little heads.
By way of intermezzo, I did just refer to perceptually-based science as a form of religion.
For those not used to poring over journal articles or who are not familiar with the intercollegial backstabbing that takes place in the hallowed halls of academe, let me just point out that the existence of your physical form relative to anyone else’s is an article of faith to science. Meaning, of course, that there is no certain knowledge that the fundamental building blocks of which we are all made actually exist anywhere at any time — we take it on authority that our interpretation of our perceptions means what we have been taught it means.
By this logic, I make no absolute distinction between current scientific evidence that is tainted by human interpretation and much older human-tainted evidence based on outside organizational authority — both, in time, lead to the same sort of lunacy that we are observing taking place, right now, among the fundamentalist evangelical right-wing of the former Republican party and their corporate “amen” section.
One can make the argument that the religion of Science is self-correcting, but my observations have not born that belief out to any greater degree than the self-correction that has taken place in most standard religions. In a pinch, I would opt for the religion of Science over most every other religion, but this prejudice still leaves a huge gap between legitimate, age-old and sage tribal knowledge and the best of current scientific conclusions. I and Ken Wilber agree that both sources of knowledge are crucially important to living a happy, meaningful human life.
My disdain for the behavior of those who choose lunacy and pathological fantasy over more grounded, scholarly and spiritual religious interpretations reflects my belief that most religions lead to a variety of loathsome “us versus them” confrontations of which the current racism is clearly associated.
For the scientifically inclined who remain unconvinced that two or three major intellectual revolutions in the Philosophy of Science have taken place just in the last 100 years, I am not alarmed. Eventually the positivistic certainty with which the scientifically-consecrated enoble their own thinking and perceptions will come beating on their skulls to deliver, unto them, the requisite humility of the saints.
Restoration of sanity is a process and like everything else requires both a willing student and a clearly presented, easily grasped curriculum.
Evidence of racism is evidence not of a poorly presented curriculum but, in the present case, evidences a strident, arrogant denial of the most obvious matters of fact. There is no learning failure taking place in the case of racism, there is only a dedicated unwillingness to look at all of the evidence that is as plain as the nose upon the human face.
I do not mean to be dismissive of matters of obviousness since there are, by some accounts, over two billion (2,000,000,000) sense impressions available to our perception at any given instant in time. My point is that we are not lacking for any information here. What we are lacking is a reliable apparatus or process for sorting through all of this information and coming to some competent conclusions before the moment leaves us in the dust and we are served up, yet again, with another moment and another two billion slices of information to sort through.
In a pinch for time, racism is one of many processes human beings use to sort through all of the information that our existence makes available to us. Hard as it might be to believe, only a dozen or so generations separate us from a period in human history of such hostility that, had we engaged one another during the twentieth century with the same enthusiasm for bloodshed that we once did a handful of generations ago, we would have mindlessly murdered twenty times the one hundred million we actually did slaughter during the twentieth century. For those keeping score, that would have been that two billion number again. What this means is that for most of human history we have been brutally bludgeoning one another to death, or running in mortal terror from someone who wanted to brutally bludgeon us to death. War, terror, running – these are all snappy events that do not suffer contemplative types very well, if at all. We need to get to the point and we need to get to the point quickly… because the (fill in the blank with your favorite social piriahs) are a-comin’.
Communities of shared values have been, in fact, THE way human beings have adapted to the threats we have encountered from each other for most of the time our peculiar genetic encoding has been in circulation. Racism and religion walk foot in mouth together in terms of needing to get snappy, if not impolite, before someone I do not know drills a spear or an arrow someplace where I know it does not belong. Build a wall, dig a moat, fashion a drawbridge – fairly quickly people develop a prejudice for family and community and a strident, if not arrogant, suspicion of anyone trying to worm their way into our Keep. “Famly values,” as it has been used and misused in the present moment of cultural morality has been nothing more than an encoding of the term, “racism.” It is not by sheer coincidence that as soon as Ronald Reagan started on his peculiar bandwagon of “family values,” that more demonstrably ill people of color were rounded up and thrown into more and more prisons, as a percentage of their total population, than demonstrably ill white people as a percentage of their total population.
Ethnocentrism = racism = war = religion = insanity. Since most people harbor an affinity for both ethnocentricism and insanity, peace and the pursuit of happiness only require we rid ourselves of racism, war or religion, as single entities, to weaken the entire tangle that represents the pursuit of our unhappiness. We have already tried to rid ourselves of racism and war to no avail…both have snapped back into prominence with a vengeance.
I propose, then, that we simply rid ourselves of religion. We can still go to church, if we like, but methinks it is time to stop giving religion a free ride in the tax department. And I, for one, will stop sending money their way that will not be spent strictly on the flock of which I am a member. No more tithing to an overarching, aging bureaucracy in some far-off land. All politics are local, and so is all community. I am done with religion as a means of creating a moral compass for the great unwashed masses, or as a means of saving my bacon for a better time and place.
The time is NOW, and always has been; the place is HERE and will always be.
Let us choose to love one another simply, responsibly and compassionately – right here and right now, in this very moment.