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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hatred, By God

You know, with everything going on in the Middle East and really everywhere else, I have to wonder - and this is a totally, completely... I mean, this has been discussed to death at different times throughout the ages, so this is certainly nothing new - but I have to wonder whether organized religion has any place in a modern society?

One can argue that many religions impart good values and morals, but at the end of the day, nothing else has caused more death, wanton destruction, and warfare than religion. Whether on a mass scale or individually, religion is the usual excuse for nearly all Evil.

Like I said, this is not a new concept and I'm not trying to make it sound anymore important this go-round than anyone else who has pondered the issue before me, but the world has entered yet another phase of unchecked religious fervor and we're all suffering because of it.

The thing that is different this time is that I actually do have a few suggestions to rectify the situation -- well, one; I have one suggestion:

Stop it.


Just stop it. I'm not being flippant.

In almost every religion, the basic teaching is that the followers are "The Chosen Ones" who will go on to greater things, whether in life or afterward. So why not just accept that you are The Chosen Ones and leave everyone else the hell alone? What is it about humanity that makes every person want to sit in judgment over his fellow man? I find it prosaic to think that it all boils down to displacement -- trying to feel better about themselves by castigating others; I think it goes deeper, in that the people who act like that do so partially because they think it is going to grant them some kind of redemption. The whole concept of "saving" someone, not from him- or her- self, but from Eternal Hellfires or the Corruption of the Western World, or whatever other demonic influence a religion can preach to beware of, somehow endears one to their chosen god.

And I think the recent resurgence in this zealotry is directly related to the rise of the Web. With access to such a wealth of information -- and, yes, disinformation -- a lot of people vie for simpler times. I don't necessarily think they see the Web as Evil so much as they are cowed by the rampant ignorance, greed, and basic ugliness of humanity -- something that was once easier to overlook, now almost impossible to ignore thanks to the Web. A lot of people are pushing for more traditional values and ideals in the face of millions of porn sites, Girls Gone Wild videos, YouTube catfights, et. al.  The ugliness has always been here, it just hasn't always been this accessible.

Which brings us to the matter of Freedom of Speech and the Web, and I have to remind everyone of this: Yelling "fire" in a crowded theater is not a Freedom of Speech issue. Pornographers aren't making any "message," they're just making money (and too often victimizing others); I guess performers and public speakers do have a right to use racial epithets, but that doesn't make it right; and on and on in that vein. The Web has taken things you once has to go out of your way to find -- vice, greed, hatred, violence, blatant sex of all kind -- and made them easily, and widely accessible, in anyone's home. And that is scary.

But turning to extremities to suppress these things is just as bad in the opposite direction, and I think people know that intrinsically; it's just more of an emotional response that is going to take some time to even-out. And don't get me wrong, I think a lot of the people who have fallen prey to this type of thinking really believe what they are pushing -- or at least they really want to -- and I don't see anything wrong with that. I believe religion for some people -- to whatever extent -- feeds a spiritual hunger we all have, the way reading and learning feeds an intellectual need (which too few people have). The problem is that most of the really religious people are the other side of the same coin to those who are so vehemently anti-religious: They feed one of those hungers to excess while starving the other -- a gluttony of its own kind.

The problem with religion is that it is far too easily abused by despots and other would-be criminal masterminds. It is a very convenient, very powerful, tool Evil entities use to subject entire peoples to their whims.

There is no way to turn back time; the Web isn't going anywhere. There is always the chance of a major, earth-shattering event which will cripple it, but smaller networks will replace it the way they preceded it. Computers are not the enemy; the enemy is the same as it has ever been: Man. No matter your god, no god has yet changed Man for the better, so we all might as well accept that and try to move on from it.

In the meantime, just stop it.

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