left biblioblography: MEMES CAN ONLY BE DILUTED, NOT PURGED

Saturday, August 19, 2006

MEMES CAN ONLY BE DILUTED, NOT PURGED

“Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.” - V is for Vendetta.

I have given this some serious thought: can we simply expunge this virulent meme, a wart on Humanity’s face?

Obviously not. The moral ramifications of doing so should be readily apparent, even to the most militant atheist. We cannot change the human heart at gunpoint. We cannot force obeisance from the foolhardy, nor can they force it from us. Centuries of tradition and humanity’s inherent dislike of change (that paradox that has haunted us from the time when Man first formed identity to this day) makes for a Sisyphean task.

While I agree in principle with the lyrics from Lennon’s Imagine:

”Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace... “

I believe that this utopia is still resting far out of our reach.

I will illustrate my point, with three examples, two from the real world, one from the blogosphere.

From here:
[Recently, in central Burma, riots broke out between Muslims and Buddhists because of the rumours that a group of Muslim men raped a Buddhist woman. The military junta deliberately allowed the riots to blow out of control - their aim is to divert people’s attention from the economic problems and worsening conditions of health care and education.

And here:
“The religious passion and political potential of Iraq's long- suppressed Shiite majority erupted Tuesday as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims chanted, prayed, whipped their backs and even drew their own blood in an ancient ritual that held profound implications for modern-day Iraq.”

I will not link to the third – mostly because
  1. This is analogy only, not a criticism, and

  2. The fellow in question is someone I do NOT wish to have visiting.

“In 11th grade I "progressed." That was the year I was kicked of the football team for calling some kids "niggers." I had been introduced to "white pride" and loved the power. No one could tell me what to do. The Mexican and black kids wore Malcolm X shirts and brown pride shirts, so I made a shirt that read: "white pride." The school officials couldn't make me take it off since I said I would sue and make the other kids take theirs off. The officials couldn't really do anything. I hated people of color. I remember once, during Desert Storm, that I put an exacto knife blade to an Iraqi girl at our school. She told her mom and the state department came to talk to me. They tried to scare me. But when I had emerged from the office, unpunished, I had gained even more respect from the students. I loved to hate.I can remember making fun of the kids in special Ed. Oh; I would get a laugh from all the popular kids. They thought I was so cool and funny! I would make one autistic kid so mad that he would scream and hit himself in the middle of the halls. He wanted to be liked so I would use him. I would act nice and tell him to ask our P.E. coach what a sphincter was. All of us would laugh when we would hide and listen to him ask Coach C. "what's a sphincter?" Then we would bust a gut when Coach rolled his eyes and said in his gruff voice, "It's a muscle, Chris." But I didn't only pick on the special Ed kids. I would punch anyone for a buck. My friends knew it and so if they didn't like someone they would give me a dollar and I'd just walk up and hit them. There was another girl, who was very awkward. A friend and I would follow her down the halls, pointing our fingers at her, and scream at her like in the movie "The Invasion of The Body Snatchers." Wasn't I cool?”

The first two examples make me wonder: where would these people be, if they had no higher power to answer to? More often than not (myself included), most atheists tend to have this unrealistic utopian POV, where once everyone is released from the constraints of an invisible sky jockey, they’ll simply figure out that the shackles of fear, the manacles of monolithic authority, were all illusion, and simply settle down. Alas, I fear not. Bear with me, gentle reader, and let me explain:

For the most part, the majority (as I see it) are just regular folks. Most people are basically good. But due to our innate ferity, we are all vulnerable to moments of ferocity that shake us, and those around us, to the core. For instance, in the second example – we see hundreds of thousands flagellating themselves and striking their heads with daggers, in an orgy of religious fervor – can you or I imagine what these people would be doing if they weren’t religious? If they slipped the shackles of authority, imaginary or otherwise?

For the third example – those of you who are active in the blogosphere, you perhaps recognize the snippet provided. For those of you who don’t – here is an individual who by his own account was a violent, unrestrained individual. Who would, for the slight beep of a horn, jump out of his car and thrash the honker. Who started street fights in Tijuana just for the fun of it, brutalized other people in what can only be categorized as sociopathic glee, who by anyone’s yardstick, was so disconnected from his fellow human beings, that by all rights he should be on an episode of Cops, or perhaps waiting on Death Row.

He is the sort of person that makes me glad he found religion. Otherwise, he’d still be reaching out to share his pain with the rest of us. Instead, he found a shift in focus, a more constructive channel for his energies.

Mind you, his debate style is a kata of cognitive dissonance to make the eyes blink and the knees wobbly (when I peruse his blog, I oscillate between hilarity and headache), which makes his conversion narrative all the more believable. But I’m perversely glad that he’s not out wrecking other people.

But I digress. Take this fellow, or even example number two: multiply him in accordance with the latest prison stats, or the unsolved brutalities of the world, or a combination of both, and you have a virtual tidal wave of feral ferocity that, without religion, would sweep unchecked across our literal landscape, a subtraction of empathy and a multiplication of madness that would, as the Bard worded it, ‘blow the horrid deed in every eye, that tears might drown the wind.’
So there you have it: religion is still a necessity, in our world, until every man, woman and child can estabish that connectivity we call empathy with one another, these chains will persist until our collective consciousness evolves past this primitive immature need of invisible, unprovable authority.

It is well said, that “Neurotics build castles in the sky: psychotics go live in them.”

And we are all lunatics, to the core of us: but some of us are gentle, yet others gripped by fierce berserkgang.

I leave you with this salient song:

”The lunatic is on the grass
The lunatic is on the grass
remembering games and daisy chains and laughs
got to keep the loonies on the path

The lunatic is in the hall
the lunatics are in the hall

the paper holds their folded faces to the floor
and every day the paper boy brings more
And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
and if there is no room upon the hill
and if your head explodes with dark forebodings too I
'll see you on the dark side of the moon

The lunatic is in my head
The lunatic is in my head

you raise the blade, you make the change
you rearrange me ' till I'm sane
you lock the door and throw away the key
there's someone in my head but it's not me
And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
you shout and no one seems to hear
and if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon”
– Pink Floyd, Brain Damage

Till the next post, then.

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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

RA,
Had to be anonymous since remy was "not allowed".

I agree with you. I have often said that one cannot argue against faith. Yet I persist.

Coincdently, I have seen you as a sort of Sisyphus figure with a bit of Jude the Obscure thrown in. I mean that in a good way of course.

Krystalline Apostate said...

remy:
Had to be anonymous since remy was "not allowed".
Hmmm...did you try the 'other' option? Blogspot's a pain in the rump more oft than not.
I agree with you. I have often said that one cannot argue against faith. Yet I persist.
Who knows who may be listening? It's a war of attrition. Drop by drop, we eat away at the foundations.
Coincdently, I have seen you as a sort of Sisyphus figure with a bit of Jude the Obscure thrown in. I mean that in a good way of course.
ROFLMAO! That's about the best description I've gotten yet! I love it!
I'd have preferred a comparison to Zorro, but it'll have to do. ;)

Mesoforte said...

I'd have preferred a comparison to Zorro, but it'll have to do. ;)

Zorro doesn't wear a silver suit. ^_^

Krystalline Apostate said...

MF:
Zorro doesn't wear a silver suit. ^_^
It's actually beige, but no biggie.
What swashbuckling hero wears silver, I wonder? Not the Silver Surfer: he's too much like Hamlet (always, "Oh woe! Oh no!".

Anonymous said...

When it comes to computer machines I am less than an infant. I'll try this...

Anonymous said...

Obviously that didna work. I'll try again later. remy

Krystalline Apostate said...

remy:
Obviously that didna work. I'll try again later. remy
What didn't work?

loki said...

The 3rd example you posted has a good point - religion can help people. Much in the same way drugs can help people by calming the mind. Some people can go from horrible to good quickly with religion. But I wonder if these quick transformations tend to stick.

Despite being able to help individuals, religion segregates society and reinforces xenophobia - one of humanity's worst traits in a global society. Which, in the long-term, corrodes human society. I'd rather have a few rampaging, mean-spirited individuals, than a few rampaging, mean-spirited tyrants with large groups of unquestioning religious followers.

Krystalline Apostate said...

loki:
I'm very much in agreement w/everything you say.
Sometimes, as in most anti-social behavior, the recidivism rate is high.
I wonder if there's some sort of endorphin release involved for the religious?

say no to christ said...

Ra said:"I wonder if there's some sort of endorphin release involved for the religious?"

I believe there is. I read a few articles about certain hormones released durring a religious ferver and how it can cause a state of uphoria(sp?brainfart)much like the drug extasy.

Krystalline Apostate said...

SNTC:
I read a few articles about certain hormones released durring a religious ferver and how it can cause a state of uphoria(sp?brainfart)much like the drug extasy.
I recall an article by Dick Sutger(sp?) where he talks about how people who don't even believe in Vodoun get caught up in the ritual, & become 'possessed'.