Wednesday, March 24, 2010
We Have Met The Enemy
We have me the enemy and he is us
~Pogo (Walt Kelly)
We have met the enemy and he is us, if I may be so bold as to revision a new contextual reference for cartoonist Walt Kelly’s Pogo, will always be apropos of human civilization until we either destroy ourselves completely or change so fundamentally at our core that we no longer split ourselves into factious religious and political groups. As long as there is rich and poor, free and slave, Democrat and Republican or gay and straight or just about any other duality you can imagine there will always be hatred and its attendant violence and bloodshed. Gandhi asked us to be the change we wanted to see, but it seems we are incapable of change without violence to some particular group or other.
I must confess to being in a rather melancholy mood this evening as I write these words. Sometimes when I am hit by the enormity of our problems I start recalling all sorts of my favorite quotations and wonder if I was ever really listening – indeed, wondering if any of us really are beyond our own immediate needs and desires.
I have stated many times that I have no actual faith in either religion or politics. If the solution to our problems could be found there humanity would have done so centuries ago. Rather these areas of human endeavor further split us into contentious groups of us vs. them. The answer, for me, seems to lie in some improbability of quasi evolutionary spirituality where our basic human nature changes. Of this I have no rational way of proving.
Democracy is as inherently doomed as any other form of government humanity has conceived and tried. Unfortunately, it is the only one that offers even the slightest of hopes for the advancement of justice that we find ourselves clinging to it hoping that somehow we may actually get it right. As for religion I reject it all on the premise that their creeds are not founded upon reason and that the revelatory ramblings of their prophets are the mere mutterings of mad men who wish to infect the world with their delusion.
It is sad that in this age of science and learning that while we have achieved great heights of technological prowess we seem to be letting the light of reason flicker and if we don’t attend to it soon it may burn out for a time. Whether it is the anti-intellectual, anti human tendency of religion or the angered mobs of riff raff who take to the streets threatening violence to political leaders and public figures over this piece of legislation or that we seem to be in danger of entering a post modern dark ages that could be our undoing, if you will permit me the indulgence of possibly overstating my point.
We seem to have misplaced not only the light of our reason, but our empathy for each other as well. We can muster enough of it up for those of kindred spirit whether it be familial, religious or some other ideology, but when it comes the masses of others out there surrounding us we dismiss their humanity with a sweeping gesture of our hand or some tidy little statement that can be printed on a bumper sticker or sermonized from a pulpit
I stand as guilty as charged as the rest of you. Whether it is me ranting and raving about the Catholic Church or a group of protestors spitting at lawmakers or hurling vicious epithets at them it is all the same problem. Whether it is the obnoxious nonsense of a Glenn Beck or James Cameron, himself not always known for being rational or emotionally stable, calling Beck poisonous it’s all the same problem. Whether it is the irresponsible and intolerant commentary of Ann Coulter or the mob of threatening students attempting to silence her it’s all the same thing. Its hate and nothing we can say or do will justify it.
We are all acting hateful and then have the audacity to point our fingers at the other person and accuse them of being hateful. Ann Coulter holds many opinions that I find to be detestable, ignorant and intolerant. But, if I respond with vitriol than I am no better than she is. The question is will I sacrifice reason and empathy for a false sense of justice or will I let reason guide me toward fairness and compassion?