The World We Live In

How did we get here? Garrison Keillor* gave us this this morning:

The greatest absurdity of our time is You Know Whom, which goes without saying but I will anyway. What his election showed is that a considerable number of people, in order to demonstrate their frustration with the world as it is, are willing to drive their car, with their children in the back seat, over a cliff, smash the radiator, bust an axle and walk away feeling good about themselves. No other president in modern times has been held in contempt by a preponderance of people from the moment he said, “So help me, God.” The playboy blather, the smirk of privilege, the stunning contempt for factual truth — how can the country come together when the president has nothing in common with 98 percent of the rest of us?

I have no answer and I have a hard time with that 46.4% of voters that drove the car over the cliff. Why would you want to be brought together with them? We see where one right-wing nut group tried to create a false story about Roy Moore to discredit the very media we depend on to see what is really going. As the evidence piles up, Alabama is the shinning example of how people are totally out of touch with reality and facts. But out of touch does not really describe it. What seems more in play here is their ability to deny the obvious, to pathologically believe what they want to believe that in the end, will do us all great harm. The Bible as the law giver instead of the Constitution? Oh, and whose interpretation of that contradictory mess of fables? We are insane.

This has always troubled me as a man who tries to operate, no matter how uncomfortable, on facts and data. I would love to believe that salt is good for you, and sugar, especially in ice cream, is health food. But they are not, and if I do not take appropriate measures on consumption, not only will I be a blimp, I will go down in flames long before I am ready. In the same vein, I would love to believe that if we cut taxes, the economy would take off, the treasury coffers would fill up with all the new activity, and wages would all rise. Trouble is, that is not what happens. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the deficit balloons. We know that for a fact, but here we are with a tax bill that may pass that is an abomination. Let’s take away a tax deduction on interest paid on student loans, tax college endowment funds, and remove the deduction for teachers buying school supplies so we can give away money to the wealthy? That is only scratching the surface. How did we get to this insanity?

I have a theory. No surprise there. It has to do with the fact that in the Western World, we are more religious than any other nation. Note how well religion on a national scale has worked for Muslim nations. Yet that seems to be the way we are moving if you listen to Roy Moore or many Republicans. And my theory is simple: If you can suspend your disbelief to believe religion and their nonsense stories as fact, it is a short trip to denying anything you don’t want to believe. I watched Bill Maher’s Religulous again last night and in doing that, voting for President DFF became quite understandable. I strongly recommend you watch this movie again (showing on HBO or maybe Showtime). Try to remove the brainwashing you have had all your life about religion and think Trump. Then all of a sudden you get it.

Maher points out that what people assume as fact, is of course not fact, but hearsay. He points out (and he leaves no religion untouched) that many of their beliefs are nonsense (talking snake), and in my favorite scene points out to worshippers that the whole Joseph/Mary/Virgin birth is a later telling of an earlier pagan version (actually about 32 of them) and the same can be said for the resurrection. They simply don’t believe it. It also says something about them not really examining their religion, which of course is the whole point of faith. So why is that?

Because they need it. They need to believe, so they do. But watching grown men, otherwise intelligent, ignoring their intelligence and skepticism on religion is revealing in the time of Trump who pumps out false narrative after false narrative that is quickly accepted by his followers. Maher, in one of what I think is the most revealing segments (because most of the movie is confronting people in a nice way with their illogic and can be uncomfortable), is with a small trucker congregation at a truck stop church. He says the following:

I think that being without faith is something that is a luxury for people who are fortunate enough to have a fortunate life. You know you go to prison and you hear a guy say, “You know what buddy, I got nothing but Jesus in here.” I can completely understand that. I think not having faith is a luxury some times. You are in a foxhole you probably have a lot of faith. So I get that, but you guys aren’t dumb.You are smart people. How can smart people, how can they believe in a talking snake, people live to 900 years old, and the virgin birth, you know, that is my question.

Now there it is. How can they believe that stuff or worse, a fairy godfather that guides your life when everthing around us tells us that is not true. How can they believe the lies that President DFF puts out? How do they quickly discount real news labeled by him “fake”?

Because they need to and that trumps everything else. In some ways religion has poisoned our minds to rational thinking. We have been indoctrinated from birth in faith-based believing and it is no surprise that in modern times we can once again be thrust into the dark ages by a Donald Trump in an instant, because people are afraid and they need to believe there is a savior. And in that logic comes all the atrocities we have seen throughout history caused by religion, and those President DFF and Republicans are now perpetuating on America and our values.

You know, religion may be a part of us that allowed us to survive in almost impossible situations, not giving up hope, and progressing as a civilization.  For some, it still does, but it could also be what brings us down in a modern world where the opportunities for us to destroy ourselves when we delude ourselves have never been so easy.  Maybe religion has become a dangerous drug. But God Bless America.

*Now he is out for allegations for improper behavior.  Are Men the devil? See yesterdays blog.  Oh let’s wait until we find out what really happened. Certainly we are flawed.

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