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In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Great Divide

I've been reading too much about the evangelical right wing, of late. As always, they are talking about "spiritual warfare" and other things that really should make the rest of us very nervous. This sort of rhetoric is hardly new in religious circles (hell, it fuelled both the Crusades and the "Winning of the West"), but this time, they're not even talking about the heathen-who-have-different-skin; they're talking about us.
Those of us who live in the big city, in particular. That's something that I've prophesized in my own writings, and hope as always that their inherent stupidity will be their undoing, but they are very well funded, and any worthwhile overview of history will not necessarily rule out the idea that stupidity will somehow sink a movement. Oftentide, the stupid-but-attractive idea wins, sometimes just by sticking around long enough, and even more so because most people just ain't that bright.
The idea of The Rapture is an interesting one. When you consider that we live on a planet that could cease to support the lives of our species by a temperature change of as little as four degrees (and we're already up one!), the idea of The End is not an entirely irrational one. Mind you, it won't really come down to a battle between Good and Evil (though that sort of thing is profitable, in the short term); it will come down to the lot of us finally asphyxiating and drowning in a hell that we have, ourselves, made. If any of the people in the evangelical movement in North America were decent human beings, they'd stop driving SUVs, but they aren't, and besides, this isn't really the world that matters, they are told. The world that matters, unfortunately, doesn't, in the least, exist, and these people who I'm certain are pained every December when Santa really doesn't arrive...Will merely be dead for starters, and worse yet, will have done everything in their power to make life miserable for their fellow citizens in the meanwhile.
And there is the question, yet again: why is it okay for them to tell me that I am wicked and evil for not believing the things that they believe (that are patent lies of the worst sort, and takes an astounding leap of not-think to believe in), but it is somehow bad manners for me to say that these people are insane, and dangerous? And stupid, for that matter, and yes...Evil, ultimately.
I mean, it's one thing to wax all hysterical about child molesters and neo-Nazis, but who really honestly means me and the people I love harm, and have the funding to get it done? Christers.
Of all things, the reasons that they hate people like me and the people I love happens to be our easy-goingness. We are moral relativists, which is to say that we don't view human interactions as being governed by any hard and fast rules (aside from the obvious ones: I'm not gonna insult ya'), especially ones crafted by a bunch of starving fools out in the desert during the Bronze Age. We understand that people can be all sorts of things, and that you simply must learn to deal, except when their behavior steps too far over the line, in which case you either step in, or let natural consequences take their own sweet toll.
That's where we get back to hate of the big city, by the way. In the big city, whether we like it or not, we have to deal with each other, and that probably is why we are as liberal as we are. We don't really have the luxury of fooling ourselves. We could act like life is like we have seen it portrayed in television of the 1950's, but realize that only a fool does, and that fool deserves some schoolin'.
This is all something that I wish had never happened to the human race at all, by the way. Even the most beautiful of religious texts (The Upanishads, to my mind) stinks of blood and greed, and the childish need of certain social classes to control the other ones. Mind you, I'm not one of those people who puts a lot of faith in the inherent goodness of the human race, either. If they hadn't come up with this 'god' bullshit, they no doubt would have come up with something worse.
That's the thing though; religion is supposed to be the outlet for all of our higher instincts. Gringa Alta Segunda spent her childhood helping build houses for poor people because her daddy's a Methodist preacher, for example. Even though I know that The Tulsa Kid would disagree with me on this one, I have seen plenty of examples where people who could give a shit otherwise do the right thing, merely because their archaic god-fear, channelled through churchy peer pressure, compells them to do so. This newer version of 'Murcan evangelism says no to all of that. The building of shelters and the staffing of soup kitchens is all for naught: if gawd liked those people, they'd be home by now, and rich. Again, religion was supposed to be the thing that finally convinced people to behave in some manner contrary to the barbaric manner in which we have always approached each other. It hasn't happened yet, really.
So maybe it's time that we all stopped treating religion like it's a sacred thing, and more like a disease. The way they view homosexuality, you know. It just happens to be a disease that easily Most of the human race has, so...Well, let's start with that not-exactly-Christianity practiced here in the States, with a campaign of ridicule at first, perhaps leading to boycotts, and ultimately to laws lessening their access to public funds, causing them to influence public policy, though one of the older constitutional statutes deals with that issue in a rather clear manner.
(I am no longer in the mood to pontificate. As always, I would like to tell you a little story.)
When I was sixteen, I moved to the Big City. It was a magical place, and already filled with things of wonder, which I had glimpsed on earlier occasions. There were people of all manner here, and more on the way. More than I had even thought possible, and we all had to get along, up to a certain point. It was agreed that certain parts of town belonged to certain people, at least in those days before we decided that, as usual, the white people own everything.
But I stray from my point. In those days, downtown was anybody's turf. It was, as it should be, where everybody goes to mix, then retreats to their various corners, like boxers. Look; when I moved here, I was a small town punk. Then, I realized that the punks here weren't necessarily rebelling against anything (at least along the lines of what I was rebelling against), and I quickly fell in with those who attended Portland's then-thriving underaged dance club-going scene. They, at least, had fun; Fun along the lines which I considered fun to fall. Your average evening for me in those days consisted of my getting incredibly stoned with my friends, going downtown, usually then getting drunk, dancing, getting more stoned and meeting people, finally falling asleep in someone's car, then being awakened in time for the afterparty, which could be occurring anywhere.
The difference was that the crowd on any evening might include anything from white supremacists to hard core gang members, and to a certain extent, we all needed to give each other a relatively wide berth, even though we were not going to not be ourselves...Alright. This came to a head one evening when a friend of mine from my hometown, who I had always known was queer but wouldn't admit it whilst there encountered another friend of mine...Idaho/SoCal transplant, possible closet-case but who cares...Dance club bigot.
My hometown friend is annoying as the day is long, and I know it. This does not, however, prevent me from viewing him as my vaguely retarded younger brother who needs taking care of. My other friend, however, ain't feelin' it.
"Aw c'monnn," he keeps whining, "jus' lemme beat 'im uuuup!" My pal, along with really honestly whining, which I will not abide, is also really honestly asking to beat up my friend because he is Gay first, and Obnoxious second. I am trying and trying to say it the right way: "Naw man, jus' let it go. Not a thing..." And remind him that this is above all else a thing that he will feel less exercised about in the morning. He just won't let it go, and after saying every nice, polite, diplomatic, complimentary, assuaging thing I could possibly say to this jackass, I finally just said it, as I was forced to do so:
"Alright. If you wanna do it, go ahead. But you gotta go through me first."
That ended it. After further whining about how I was spoiling his fun by being too serious about all this, it nonetheless was over. I had made it clear that no matter how cute you think you're being with your hate, I'll be right there making sure it doesn't get nasty. I'll even stick up for my pain in the ass friend who isn't really much of a friend and is just annoying enough that he probably really does deserve to have his ever-lovin' ass beat for it, just because some schmuck thinks he's better. And that schmuck is always my enemy.
As I was walking back into the club to do some more dancing to awful (let's face it) music, a group of taller, perhaps older gentlemen from elsewhere were chatting in the parking lot. As I walked by, they started being catty in that way that, you know, those people will be. Perhaps they were talking about my acne, perhaps they were very badly inviting me to swallow their semen, when one of them looked right at me and said, "Put. Some. So-di-um in your di-et."
It was a nasty comment, if obscure, and it made me feel good. You sir, are an asshole, I thought. But you sir, are the reason why I bother with this living around here with Ape Born Wrong at all, and if'n ever any of these apes come around your water hole looking for trouble, I'll be the one there reminding them that I know how to use tools too.



Blogger carrier said...

Devotion to principle is the engine of faith and the better part of religion remains a moral beacon.

4:12 PM  

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