Wholly Unholy

I have so much empathy for atheists!  They must look on in horrified wonder at the crazies and feel quite outraged at the impact Religion has on the world, their society and their own lives.

To challenge a religion is not blasphemy or high treason and it most certainly does not have to be interpreted as anti-God.  It is – mostly – honest, curious and rational.  Whose authority is being challenged, anyway?  God’s?  Naa – S/He can take care of themselves.  We have placed far too much faith in authority and organised religion is possibly the most pervasive of them all.  Even the orthodox religions are nothing more than cults. They just have the seal of legal/official recognition.  At best, Religion provides a focal point for devotion, the safety of tribal allegiance and seeming validation of a belief structure.  At its worst Religion spins, covers up its worst misdeeds, blackmails emotion, claims inordinate legislative power, herds the sheep, empowers the opportunist and skews the minds of the vulnerable.  Too harsh?  It is a Man-made authority, outrageously claiming to speak for God.  Well God can speak for itself / themselves.

Regardless of claims to the contrary, it’s never actually “God’s work” being done or “God’s enemies” being vanquished because it’s not about God at all, is it?  God, as in the source of sacredness and divinity in ALL Life?  Nope.  It’s about ego and excuse: a front for hidden purposes such as the acquisition of land and resources and socio-political-economic dominance.  It’s a political tool for patriarchal control.  It always has been.  This is predicated on the daft and impossible notion that ‘God’ is a male and a male only.  Given the dual nature, the construct of polarity on which our universe depends, I find that hilarious.  And very tragic.  After all: what the heck is the point of a divine being who only ‘lives through’ and represents one half of the manifest world?  Not much.

What a weapon Religion is that it can manipulate hope and fear through superstition, second-guessing and imposed guilt, all on a platform of imbalanced and irrational messages.  I’m not referring to metaphorical source concepts such as Immaculate Conception, transubstantiation, etc.  Leave that to the literalists (and the bankstas).  I mean contraception, sexuality, women bishops, the burqa, gender segregation, education, circumcision, gay marriage etc: the endless list over which such literalism and metaphor should have no jurisdiction relative to State or individual application.  This is not “The Word of God” – these are the edicts of men: pervasive, narrow-minded and stupid men, bent on the reduction of their God to their own levels of pettiness and narrow thinking. Religion is a middleman, masquerading as servant of Higher Purpose and never has ‘Faith’ in such authority been so misplaced, so betrayed.  In short, Religion seems to have little to do with God and everything to do with politics.

Children have a right to a non-politicised education.  Adults have the right to manage their life choices according to their own consciences.  Everyone has the right to observe their own spiritual or philosophical code, be it solo or in congregation, just as everyone also has the right to not believe in God.  Everyone has the right to not suffer an infrastructure laced with unproven and unjustified dogma.  An individual’s recognition, acceptance, dismissal of a god or the Self is a personal affair: Faith is a private matter.

There are as many paths to the Self as there are people: you don’t need an agent – you have a direct line.  The world does not need the organised doctrine of bigots, control freaks, or prescriptive do-gooders influencing legislative power any more than it needs the corporate lobbyists.  If the Church doesn’t want to, or cannot be subject to the laws of its land then perhaps it should be cut loose.  Separation of Church and State is not just desirable but increasingly essential in a world of complexity, diversity and rapid change. This is because a secular society is the best way to protect and govern with equal and fair effect: the only way to prove that the majority, the minority and all the individuals therein feel and know that their rights are valued equally.  Good Secularist or Pluralist governance shouldn’t mean that you have to bury your faith. It should recognise that not everyone has a faith and that no one faith is superior to another. That doesn’t take unswerving blind belief.  It just requires a basic humanity.

***

Meanwhile… In a time long past and a land now lost, Jerusalem was deemed Holy. Jerusalem: the enduring pawn of the Abrahamic Faiths is like a vortex, drawing in and compacting the Light.  Now, by the abuse and manipulation of another age, the Divine has apparently vacated for healthier climes – probably to the nineteenth hole.  Well – wouldn’t you?

On No Good Authority

Authority has become far too full of its own self-importance. This is both a global and a domestic issue. It has shed any true sense of responsibility, respect and accountability in favour of dominance and self-aggrandisement and treats those who are subject to it as little more than a burden, an irksome chore. Authority should be regarded as an honour, not a sacred right, whether it is bestowed on parent, carer, teacher, law enforcement, government or church. To have the power of authority is the highest realm of privilege and yet we see it squandered and abused every day, by powerful individuals, organisations and institutions. We are enveloped by an oppressive smog of smugness and superiority. Those to whom we give authority, those whose salaries we pay, have become our burden. Those in authority are corrupt and corrupting, immoral and moralising, judgmental and inadequate. We are governed and policed, not by consent, but by destructive power-hungry ideologues.

Our home-grown legislators are selective: one rule for ‘them’; another for ‘us’. Corruption is exposed to slow or no avail and there is now not one single institution that is not mired in ethical and procedural scandal and malfeasance. The global corporations and financial institutions run amok, marauding around the planet, vacuuming up our essential resources à la Cosa Nostra while their regulators appear to do little more than lounge on sofas in anticipation of being fed seedless grapes. The Powers That Be do not like our anger, our frustration, our righteous indignation. They like us cowed, confused, quiet and obedient. They are terrified of the People, threatened by the light now shining on their incompetence, their collusion and their shortsighted intransigence.

Authority is also about the supply of and dependence on reliable information or evidence: the ‘authorised version’. How enlightened does this authority want us to be? The Mainstream News is also very selective. How many stories have been told too late, or not told at all? How many times has an important speech or press conference been completely ignored or cut short just as it got to the Q&A? How many protests have been hushed up or played down? How many times have you witnessed Sky News choose adverts over a moment of huge national or global interest? How much time and space is devoted to Celebrity and other modern banalities and how often are they presented as the headline while the world implodes around us? Sympathetic, deferential, even sycophantic journalism is a balm to the harridans and a plague on the governed. The news is too often incapable of providing the facts – that requires research and time, and time means money and facts mean accountability. It means crossing those with whom you have cosy relationships. Why check the facts, why challenge when you have already either surrendered your authority to theirs or you are just another branch of the same old tree? We are to be enlightened just enough to swallow mostly crap, it would seem.

Authoritarianism is a traditional consequence of panic and fear and threat to a desire for outright control. The Powers That Be cannot guarantee acquiescence to the prescribed mindset and so the populace cannot be trusted. Dissent and independent thought are suddenly the products of a morally deprived mind. Obedience must be sought and enforced. Isn’t this our current direction of travel? Those with the power are employing dangerously divisive, provocative tactics: they finger point, draw outlandish comparisons, extrapolate wildly, dissemble and fabricate – anything to distract or subdue us, as and when necessary. When Authority has to micro-manage its environment and scrutinise the lives of its citizens like this, it has already demonstrated a loss of faith in them. When the citizens lose trust they have no mechanism for withdrawing their consent except impotent protest and civil disobedience which may carry considerable personal risk. This alone should be a signal to us that we are already well on our way to losing our freedom.

The notion of Order at all costs, a sense of Divine Right to Rule, has not gone away. God, Order, Degree are still used and abused for the convenience of those seeking control. In fact they are becoming increasingly pronounced again. Much of our world horizon is bound by governance and too-bigs-to-fail, global and domestic, which manufacture and promote fear, greed and instability through the same, ruthless determination to preserve a status quo which especially benefits them. Government is a home-grown terrorist, masquerading as a servant of the electorate’s best interests. Faith in the current crop of knotweed is ill-judged. Authority has succumbed to the corruption of integrity and soul. It provides a platform for those with the power and the will to abuse Power and Will. That kind of power has nothing to do with God, Democracy, Progress or a life worth living.

The political is personal; the personal is political. Their authority is granted under a contract of permission – they are under our authority. Claiming disinterest or ignorance of arguments which determine the very frameworks of all our lives is reckless unless you live a self-sustaining existence on a far away planet. It’s a denial of reality, born of sleep or disempowerment.

Authority is showing us no respect, no accountability – no honour. We, The People: we are not the enemy – we are the nation. When we don’t trust ‘them’ and they don’t trust ‘us’, well that produces a very narrow space in time in which to capture the advantage and become the rightful authorities of our countries and ourselves. There is a line where impending reality overrides the fear of consequence, usually at the point of having nothing to lose. It’s the 21st Century and it still continues to rhyme grotesquely with all our histories. Are we really all just waiting for it to get worse, or are we waiting for some sort of permission? It’s our world too.

Manifest Thought

With Rights come responsibilities. Obviously. Free speech is the free expression of thought or the repetition of another’s. But the right to speak freely is not cost-free. The right and responsibility of selective censorship belongs firmly with the speaker/writer, who must choose whether or not to risk the possible consequences of social controversy and Law: self-censorship. By ‘self-censorship’, I mean not the suppressing self-censorship of fear but merely the act of thinking before one speaks or writes. Free Speech does not mean you have no right to react, to be offended by it. Free speech means the right to speak freely, the right to offend or the possibility of its happening and the right to be offended. If you take offence it is up to you how you respond – the consequences of your response are your responsibility. The responsibility of choice – that is what is ‘free’ about free speech – and that is also its cost. To be grown up, responsible individuals, we would be greatly advantaged by freedom and accuracy of information from our politicians and mainstream media. But we aren’t.

[Twitter and other social media are proving a golem to the Powers that Be. Social media are gateways: publishing platforms, sources of factual and fictional information and currents through which the whole spectrum of discourse is electronically made manifest as a public performance. For some, its immediacy and potential reach means it’s perceived more as an online conversation: spontaneous, informal, reactive; for others, its textual permanence and reach understandably expects an equitable standard with traditional publishing. The trouble is, is that it’s neither and both.

Social Media reflects the physical, mental, emotional, multi-dimensional world. It is, therefore, bound to reflect the very best and the absolute worst of both information and humanity. Truth, illusion, kindness and cruelty are available in equal measure. We also live in uncertain times. Not a single aspect of Life is untouched by the precipice(s) on which we stand. Our Dear Leaders are proving themselves to be tyrannical incompetents; our institutions are in need of ethical audits; our mainstream media are all too often the mouthpiece of another’s agenda. We live through an age of shocked-but-not-surprised and it is increasingly possible, however sophisticated we think we are, to believe in anything and nothing – even momentarily. Sometimes it is only hindsight which distinguishes between an ignorant herd mentality born of rumour and the rapid acquirement of new and important information.]

The global climate is highly strung, reactionary and poorly weighted. So are we, sometimes. For sure, some people go out of their way to be aggressive, intimidating and personal. This is a reflection of the real world, so we can expect this, unfortunately. But occasionally even the most temperate and secure among us might react impulsively and with questionable justification. We have all given and received undesirable attention, inadvertently or not. We also know that, however hard we try not to, someone, somewhere might be offended. Indeed, there are even a few who go out of their way to find offence, irrespective of the speaker’s intentions. In the physical world we are perfectly capable of reducing ourselves and others, so why on earth would it be different in the ether? We are learning the ways to handle it, much as we did when we were growing up in the ‘real’ world. I’m not condoning gratuitous expressions of personal hatred. Nor am I disputing a person’s right to pursue their offender. This right to respond and seek official consequence is catered for through civil law (and criminal where appropriate): any immediate improvement should arguably be focused on ease of access and affordability for private individuals. It should not be within the direct reach of the Police and criminal courts and especially not through politicised Police and Crime Commissioners and careless or overly enthusiastic G4S employees. Laws already exist for those occasions when State-sanctioned enforcement is required. I am cautioning that knee-jerk law or policy and chaotic, generalised accusations from on high are likely to be far more detrimental than the current dilemma. We have enough evidence of divisive spin to recognise a threat to social fabric when we see it.

Social media are still rather recent phenomena and I suspect we need time for more unfolding; to trust and allow our peers to curb behaviour by approval, caution or condemnation; to match our electronic reputations to conscience and Will. We are learning to dance on yet another shifting carpet, so trying to define the warp and weft of this erratic picture is bound to produce a fragmented narrative. I’m not enthralled that any of us, be we a public or private figure, might suffer a potentially very public attack, especially if it’s unfounded. Nor is there comfort in such abuse being on permanent record, but the alternative right now is terrifying, as it will certainly result in the further encroachment of authoritarian ideology, whim and fear. That way lies a very policed state.  We recognise the signs – Gods know there have been enough alarm bells.

We either have free speech or we don’t. Trying to shut us all up, whatever our opinions, good or bad, right or wrong, is not the mark of an evolved society. It is disconcerting to witness government and mainstream media panicking about everyone else’s morality and liability, threatening caveats which would turn the whole concept into an oxymoron. Freedoms of speech and expression are extensions of Free Will and Freedom of Thought, born of an influence (call it God, biology, I don’t care) greater than religion, government or society – despite an often relentless effort.

We lose these freedoms by sloth and oppression and at our peril.

We all have lessons to learn in discretion and discrimination. This one is for the collective.  It will be enriched greatly and grasped more quickly if it is practised with much better example, by those with power, who claim to serve our interests. That would be a viable and welcome ‘trickle down’. We are all having to grow up again. Hopefully this will be led by a principled nature and the nurture of good conscience.

In the meantime, take heart that we are all not telepathic.

Apropos on anonymity: While it’s undoubtedly true that some hide their identity because they are up to no good, there are many, ordinary and decent internet users, who mask themselves for artistic reasons or because they are protective of their privacy and/or are suspicious of the surveillance state.

You, Me, We

We are as cosmic prisms
Reflecting
Connecting
With infinite vibrations
That shake the physical
And consume the spiritual
Intense awareness is ours
Experience is sharp
We are our teachers and our pupils
Scholars of the wisdom well
Plunging into Truth
And emerging as fountains
Sprinkling little drops
Of consequence
And potential