Tuesday, December 27, 2011

religious coercion

In the world of "pigs would fly," a world of wistful wishing that stands a snowball's chance in hell of becoming a reality, I wish childishly that all spiritual persuasions, of whatever stripe, would be known as liars and pimps whenever and wherever they brought coercion or salesmanship to bear.

The excuse those persuasions use is, perhaps, that "people can make up their own minds" or "since we are right, we have an excuse for telling others how wrong they are." The excuses may be well-intended enough, but the lack of faith in their ruler-god or ruling propositions makes hypocrites and whores of the people who espouse them.

They are like the unnamed U.S. Army major who was quoted as saying of the village of Bien Tre during the Vietnam war: "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."

People using such approaches are apostate on their own terms and richly deserve to be called out and shunned. And it is not just organizations that deserve to be ostracized ... individuals who find themselves proclaiming 'the one true path' to themselves need to know that they have taken a wrong turn. It's a common enough mistake, but just because it's common doesn't make it any less a mistake.

Mistakes R Us is another way to describe spiritual endeavor. But the emphasis is on seeing and correcting errors, not enshrining them.

What brought all this to mind was the story of a little girl, Naama Margolese, 8, who has lately been forced to endure the taunts of ultra-orthodox Jews on her way to school. The tale has shocked Israel ... but I doubt if it has shocked them enough to call out the fundamental error of the-firstest-with-the-bestest attitude anyone might fall prey to.

To reflect and to pay attention is important in spiritual endeavor. To correct errors is important. To lay your shit off on anyone else, whether eight years old or 98 years old, is contrary to the god you worship and is therefore, from the get-go, apostasy and hypocrisy ... on its own terms.

Gautama put his finger on something important when he was alleged to have said, "It is not what others do and do not do that is my concern. It is what I do and do not do -- that is my concern."

Only heathens "destroy the village in order to save it." It is a vile pursuit for anyone engaged in what is sometimes praised as a "spiritual endeavor." Whether without or within ... vile and deserving of correction.

The U.S. President Harry S. Truman once chided his fellow politicians: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." If those inclined towards what is sometimes called religion cannot exhibit the faith their religion demands, then perhaps they would be better off taking up a less demanding sport ... something like knitting.

And is any of this likely to happen?

Maybe when pigs fly.

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