The Herd

I've never been big on religion or even spirituality, though I believe spirituality is more effective than religion. I just find the belief in a higher power or powers to be an easy way to shrug off responsibility for your actions and feelings. Some people find comfort in such beliefs, and that is fine, but overall I think the concept of a higher power is far too often used as a tool of control over people who have a hard time thinking for themselves (and thankfully something is keeping those people in check) and as a scapegoat for when a person's bad choices come back to bite them in the ass ("Oh well. God has a plan."). I have plenty of religious friends and spiritual friends, and sometimes we talk about these things. I tend to avoid the conversation, though, as I know it is most likely going to go nowhere for either side.

One thing that really bothers me about the idea of other beings that somehow have influence over our actions, thoughts and destiny, or are even there as creators, is that if you start to have so much belief in something you can't see or prove (and the reason it is faith and not science is because there is no proof), then it sets you up to believe anything. Blacks, women and homosexuals are inferior to you; karma; and so on. You can start to justify just about everything, and that control issue ends up going both ways.

Various religions have used faith as a means of controlling everything from education to birth control. (And while spirituality in its pure form doesn't subject you to the same kind of control, it does still work to absolve people of responsibility.) This control can also be used against you from people who don't share your faith. My use of the "Satanic" image will bother some of my friends. It was meant to. I did it to prove a point. To me it's a picture (though I find Satanism as presented by the capitalistic Church of Satan to be purer and more honest than other religions). To others it is a symbol of evil. The only use it has to me is to bother those who make Satan their Joker to their Batman god.

I don't mind that people are religious and spiritual. In fact, I believe most people need that for comfort, guidance and a sense of self-worth. I think that many (not all) of these people have some real issues that they need to be worked out, and religion or faith or spirituality helps them do that. I'm not some guy who wants to see religion abolished, either. I wish people had the strength to break their chains from false beliefs (and all the control those beliefs exert over them both overtly and subconsciously), but most people don't. Because of that I am thankful there is something there to keep them in line, to keep them acting straight because they are afraid of what will happen if they don't, to keep them from overbreeding. But there is a problem with all that, too: Those who have faith and all the morals that go with it don't often act that way.

Morals and values are matters of convenience for most people. They refer to them when they judge other people. They utilize them when it won't affect their lives. As soon morals and values create an obstacle to what a person wants to do, they ignore them. Some will beg for forgiveness for their trangressions ... and receive it. Others will be racked with guilt. So, as a control mechanism it doesn't always work, but it's better than nothing. It's when it starts to infringe on the rights of non-believers that I have a problem with it (such as when religion is used as an argument to curtail women's reproductive rights).

As much as I value freedom and responsibility, I understand that there are those among us that can't handle it or don't want it. I find that odd, but so be it. I'm glad that many of those people have some imaginary thing being to look to for the answers to all their little problems. I don't even care if it tells them crazy things like women are property ... as long as they don't try to enforce those oddities on others.

I'll leave things on this note because I must get going. Years ago, when I worked in a factory, a female supervisor had me fill out a medical emergency contact sheet. She knew about my "lack of faith" and asked me who I called on when I was hurt and in trouble. "The ambulance," I replied. She told me she called on Jesus. I wished her luck with that. I was sure that if she fell down at that moment and broke her arm, it wouldn't be Jesus fixing it. (This was the same factory where people used to ride me about my lack of belief in God. I would tell them I needed proof, and if there was a God he would strike one of them down on the spot to give me that proof I needed. Boy, would they flip out.)

Foolish notions and control. Byproducts of a flawed believe system.

1 comment:

Nikki said...

I have always had mixed feelings about religion. Between being raised by devout Catholic grandparents, becoming a Pagan myself, and being relatively intelligent enough to know that I should at least slightly question my belief in an invisible force, I alternate from believing in hundreds of gods to none depending on where I'm at in my life.

I really despise when people say "god has a plan" after something bad happens. If they want to console themselves with that, fine. But when I was trying to get pregnant for six years, I heard that a lot. I could give a flying fuck about god's plan when I'm crying on my floor after a trip to the bathroom provided evidence of yet another unsuccessful month of trying. I wanted a baby, not to be some sort of puppet in some invisible guy's master plan.

I am very against organized religion. I feel that a person's idea of god or lack thereof should be a wholly personal thing. When more than one person believes exactly the same thing to a t, one person is simply following the other. No two people believe the exact same thing about anything in my opinion. The basics can be similar, but in organized religion, even Wicca, the basics aren't enough. You're told by someone in a silly costume, be it a priest's cloth or a fancy robe covered in moons and stars, exactly what you should believe and how you should celebrate that belief. That creeps me out. I have plenty of friends and family who are very religious in one way or another, and we're all fine as long as we don't discuss faith.