>> Friday, October 30, 2009
We'll see how my workout sets with my iffy stomach, but, in the meantime, I have earned the right to blog, which is good because I have something to say. And I'm going to do a sort of Thieving Thursday today because today is when I said it.
The Mother, who has a wonderful blog, well worth reading any day, does a special bit on Fridays regarding the history of motherhood, and all the scary tales therein. Today, in honor of Halloween, she talked about the transformation of the Dark Ages' most assiduous medical practitioners (midwives) to witches in the eyes of the powers that were. Now, I could talk about this as some length myself, but I think she's done a better job, certainly more research.
But, it got me to thinking. Western culture prides itself on values we presumably learned from an individual (Christ) some two millenia ago who reputedly embodied all that was kind, patient, forgiving, tolerant, educated, generous and peaceful (not unlike Buddha who came before), and yet... Governments and religious institutions have, over and over, villified kindness, education, compassion, tolerance, science and consensual copulation, and glorified torture, war, greed, ignorance, hatred, fear, and yes, even sexual predation.
That isn't to say most people were evil, just that the powers that be found ways to manipulate the populace into equating all that was evil with good and all that was good with evil - often by citing Christ who was, ironically, often much more like the people being persecuted than those who persecuted in his name. Don't believe me? Take the witch example. Imagine if Christ as he had been described had lived in Germany during the height of the anti-witch hysteria. He was kind. He was a healer. He did obvious magic. He challenged the prevailing wisdom. He was pacifist and tolerant to those who thought differently. I don't see how he wouldn't ended up burned at the stake, and those doing so in the name of all that was holy wouldn't have bothered to wash their hands first.
Ancient history you say? Really, for the past century or so, haven't we done many of the same things? I'm not singling out a religion or a nation, but, as a culture, how often have we revered greed and blind ambition, exalted violence, condoned dishonesty, sneered at tolerance and compassion? We frequently come up with rationales and explanations for calling bad things good. We call it defense, for instance, even if it hasn't been deployed except on foreign soil for literally decades. We accept clear dishonesty and blatant pandering to bribery and call it politics. We restrict people from being recognized for lifetime companions though that's what they are and call it family values. We watch people, through unmitigated greed and deceptive practices, bring a nation to the brink of financial ruin, then reward themselves with billions while taxpayers lose jobs and families lose homes and defend it as capitalism.
I think you get my drift.
My point is that we need to stop worrying about the buzzwords and the stories, what people tell us about what they want us to do and believe. Instead, we must ask ourselves what we really stand for. When we think about an issue or a stance, we need to ask ourselves are we on the side that's really good or are we telling ourselves that? Who are we really hurting? Who are we really helping?
I think, possibly because I'm a dreamer, that, if people really did that, really asked themselves what they stand for and compared it to what they want to stand for, they'd be much much harder to manipulate.
Maybe I'm wrong and people are naturally evil and self-deceiving. I don't think so. I believe that, if they were truly evil, they wouldn't have to deceive themselves.
I know what I want to stand for. Do you?