Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Which is Fact?

Religious belief and religion are two different things. This must be said at the outset. Religious belief is internally coded. Religion is the external transmission of that internal religious belief. Religious belief is praying, keeping Kosher, treating others the way you want to be treated, etc., and how you feel about dogma. Dogma is religion. It is the Ten Commandments, the Baptism, the sacred rituals, the clothing, the physical expression of one's belief.

It is this physical expression that describes for each other one's religious beliefs. What you see of a religious person can tell you much of what they are believing internally. The same is true for the non-religious -- absence is a sign the same as appearance.

That said, the purpose of religion is to proliferate one's beliefs onto others and to fortify it amongst the "believers". Period. It serves as a standard by which all members of a faith or a sect of a faith will measure themselves by. ("Am I a good Christian?" "Am I a good Muslim?" Etc.) It keeps people enthused and keeps people in line with a central dogma. And, it's a form of control.

In the end, there are hundreds of types of religious belief and thousands of sects within those beliefs. And each believes that it is the true one or the right one even, if not especially, when they say they're not. I'm not just talking about evangelicals; I'm talking about Buddhists as well, Lutherans as well, Universalists as well -- all people who believe in religion. Just the same, those who don't believe in religions or have religious beliefs (such as yours truly) believe that their correct and that everyone else is wrong. Inherently there is no problem in this. People can have whatever beliefs they want.

Beliefs move forward however, they congregate as it were. Religious beliefs group together with like-minded people doing like minded things for like-minded reasons. Thus, religion is born. Churches are built, ceremonies are created, rules are instituted, and money is collected. Atheism has yet to do this. Perhaps it will. In the age of the Internet, why not? Atheists would certainly be attracted to groups in which they would have more influence and power. Or would they be more reminded of religious beliefs of their pasts? Perhaps it would take a few generations of atheists, but undoubtedly, eventually, they would congregate too.

As with all groups that congregate, by which I mean all religions, they will gain power in their locality. They will get things done their way and soon enough they will drive out those who don't agree with them. Such actions could be benign or they could be physical. It probably depends on how different the minority group's beliefs are and likewise how much of a threat they are seen to be. Palestinians are a bigger perceived threat than the Amish after all.

Regardless, at some point, generations will pass and people in religions will forget what it was like to be discriminated against. They will lose the ability to understand the plight which they could hold on their fellow neighboring minorities. And, impose themselves they will. Excuses will be made and discrimination will commence. The minorities will be hurt. It doesn't matter who they are or what they believe. It will be deemed evil and sought to be stamped out. Those that were formerly discriminated against will now be the prosecutor.

Of course, this evolution, which has been seen historically many times over (Puritans, Evangelicals, Muslims, etc.) and though not universally descriptive of all members of a religion or a sect, can be seen by those who adhere most ardently to the beliefs of any group. Any group at all. Religion is an easy target today, because of who I am and what I believe, but the same is for all groups. Political parties play this game. When one gains power they mock the other. When they lose power, they are mocked. There is no empathy. When the American Colonies became strong enough, they fought off the British. But then to countless other nations, generations later, perspective of discrimination forgotten, they enslaved Africans, massacred Philippians, and waged economic and military wars in countless nations for their own profit. They exploited others in the same fashion that Great Britain had once exploited them. There is no empathy at all for those who do not remember what it was like to be hurt.

This is the cycle that we as a world are stuck in today. It is a cycle of hate and it is self-defeating. One nation will rise off the pain it endured and overcome the nation which oppressed them. Or it could be religion or economy or company or special interest group or any type of group in which people with like beliefs congregate. The fact is that we are stuck in this cycle. It has occurred since the beginning of civilization, that one group would prefer to destroy another simply to ensure that it is most powerful and thereby most successful by default.

The problem with defeating this cycle lies within the beliefs that are held themselves. Simply, the belief itself is that all other societies should be subservient. That is the belief inherent in each person. Survival of the fittest. It's even called "the human race." That's what's going on. We are all racing to the top spot as if, like in a pyramid, there is only one top stone.

Each person holds beliefs which help their group overthrow other groups. Then each person holds beliefs that helps unseat people who are higher in their own group. All because they believe that there is only one top spot.

Right now I'm sure there are those who say, "No you're wrong. I don't believe that way!" But don't you? You think the conservatives are wrong. The neo-cons destroyed this nation. The pro-lifers are anti-woman. The pro-capital punishment crowd is killing innocent people. Private health care is economically biased. Proposition 8 supporters are bigots and hatemongers. Right?

Well that is your belief. The same as the opposite is their belief. We all believe our beliefs (whatever they may be) with the same strength and conviction. It's just that we cannot easily see that because each person's beliefs (and degrees of belief in those beliefs) are different.

So right and wrong are perspectives and nothing more. Even everything I say here is just my perspective. It is neither wrong nor right. It just is. How you see it determines how you perceive it. You decide the same as I do whether something is wrong or right. The only difference to the outcome is whether or not you are in the majority or the minority. (That is, whether you are successful or not is clearly dependent on which group is most powerful.)

We as humans, in my opinion, should give up this cycle which I believe we are in. But those who this proposed cycle has profited believe the opposite. Perhaps they believe that it doesn't exist at all. In the end, belief cannot be factually proven. Even many things we think can be proven cannot. The Earth is round. How is that more or less true than the Earth is flat? Certainly to the majority of us, the Earth might as well be flat. To some who cross the globe or see the Earth from space or have international trade in mind, sure they can believe something else. And, they might convince us of it. And they did. Fishermen, who used the sea for money, and later tradesmen like Columbus, proved it for us because it economically advantaged them to do so. As did kings and queens of Europe. It greatly advantaged them to "prove" to us that the world was round.

In the same right, it did the Christian Church well to prove to us that the Earth was flat. It instilled fear of the unknown, closed the world down, and made the Church the sole power at the top of the pyramid. It suited their desires and their beliefs -- that they knew best, that they were civilized, and that they should rule everyone using their beliefs. The fact that the Earth was flat was no more or less meaningful or useful than the Earth was round. And, in perspective of those who believe one thing, their belief is fact and the other is false. They are right and the other is wrong.

It doesn't matter which is which or whether the world is actually round, or whether genocide is actually justified, or whether pro-life is anti-woman, or if the neo-cons destroyed the nation. All fact is point of view in a world in which each and every person is convinced that they are holding of the one true belief.

In a world where no one is truly right or wrong, in which power is the only guarantee of success. Is it any wonder that we are so insistent that we are right? In a world where everyone believes that they themselves are right and everyone else is wrong in one way or another, how can we even wonder why there are wars fighting for power over oil fields, refugees of religious and social wars, in short that we are a violent society? When violent's moral direction is simply perception, what does it matter at all?

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