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16 December 2010
Alcohol, Drugs, Consumerism, & Religion:: The Elephant In The Room
Be a lamp to yourself. Be your own confidence.
Hold to the truth within yourself, as to the only truth.
..............................Gautama Siddahartha (the Buddha)
I often wonder why my fellow Americans allow to happen the things they do. How is it that we countenance institutionalized poverty, hunger, deprivation, generational joblessness, endless war, deterioration of public education, and the take-over, by stateless international corporations, of virtually all levels of governance and our military?
How is it that people, who start off life essentially decent and well-meaning, can ignore our slow creep into Fascism, aided and abetted by neo-liberal economists of the Friedman school of economic theory?
I think I know part of the answer. Like combat veterans who know horror and choose to bury it deep in their psyches, where it lies festering, painfully leading to eventual self-medication through alcohol, drugs or violent and otherwise dysfunctional behaviors, we ignore the obvious, the pile of reeking crap in the room left by the elephant who lives with us. We anesthetize ourselves with drugs, alcohol, religion and consumerism to enable to ignore that which is piling up around us.
We find diversion, resort to quick highs or sense deadening lows, and buy, buy, buy! And let us not forget the "opiate of the masses", religion--in American, most notably the various Protestant sects.
So much of Protestantism in America today has morphed into this really odd sort of creature; part boosterism of self-indulgent, individual prosperity, blind, jingoistic loyalty to the state, with self-righteous insistence that Gaaawwwwd and JeeeSUS blesses it all, and that all the problems on earth will go away when the trumpet sounds so it's alright to ignore them as long as we're being "blessed" and successful in our search for affluence.
Christians of this ilk will fervently, with unforgiving, hard-eyed resolve, insist that Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of little baby Jesus--"the reason for the season", while ignoring the historic truth that the man was born in September, as near as theologians and historians can determine! And, the other elephant pile of truth, that the whole of Christmas festivity was co-opted by Christians from earlier "pagan" religions.
They assuage their rightfully felt unease with an extra holiday dollar or two in the collection plate, or serve an hour or two on a holiday food line, or toss an out-of=date can of green beans or threadbare old blanket in a collection bin in the church vestibule without ever having to actually see or touch a "poor person".
I would suggest that they acquaint themselves with the writings of theologian Emmet B. Fox: The Sermon on the Mount and The Ten Commandments. Here they would find, from those wonderful historical and philosophical texts, the old and new testaments, the constant truth about how to live one's daily life so that one is truly "blessed".