...apparently you deserve an eternity of tormentif you say "Jesus fucking-a Christ!" or "God damnit!"...
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The equality of sin
I was watching TV and I heard that old line "weed is a gateway drug" and it made me think. Well, at first it just annoyed me because it’s so narrow-minded, but after a few minutes I really thought about it. Critics of the legalization movement wouldn’t throw that arguement around so much unless there was some kind of statistic to back it up, and even though statistics tend to be doctored to the point of fantasy, there’s someone giving them the answer they are looking for. That means some people somewhere did use weed as a ’gateway drug’, and I began to wonder why.
You see, I speak with some authority on this subject, and I can attest that I have never felt the urge to experiment with heavier drugs simply because I’ve smoked weed. There doesn’t seem to be any logic inherent in the idea at all. It’s almost as if some people think that all drugs are equally bad, despite a wealth of information to the contrary. What a strange notion...
And yet, it’s not unusual, is it? Look at the concept of sin in christianity (and many other religions, this is just the most easily recognized among people who might read this) and the variety of activities that can land you in hell. You’ve got the no-brainers, like murder and rape, but apparantly you also deserve an eternity of torment if you say "Jesus fucking-a Christ!" or "God damnit!", or have the nerve to work on a Sunday, you blasphemous scum. Take a moment to think about that. Let it sink in. Yeah... Because I spent eight hours at a call center on a Sunday afternoon, I’m going to be rubbing elbows with Hitler in the afterlife. Wow. And before anyone tries to tell me that the Bible doesn’t see these sins as equal, you better be ready and willing to explain why they appear side by side in the Ten Commandments. To any reasonable person, that’s a sure sign that they are considered to be at least in the same ballpark.
The truth is that all evil is not equal. This should be one of the most obvious things that any human being has ever said, but apparantly alot of people just aren’t getting it. There’s drugs and the ’Big Ten’ referenced above, but there’s another example as well, one that just about everyone engages in without even thinking about it, because we’ve been trained to believe that it’s okay.
Oh, yeah, you heard me. I’m going to mix religion and politics in one blog entry. I know I’m risking killing untold numbers of people whos heads will undoubtedly explode out of sheer rage, but maybe they shouldn’t read my stuff anyway.
Everyone I know who has any kind of opinion when it comes to politics has done this, and everyone I know has an opinion of politics. Instead of trying to explain it directly, let me open with a couple of examples.
...the truth is that all evilis not equal...
Bill Clinton, an otherwise successful president, found himself on the receiving end of some oral pleasure in the workplace. Realistically, this should have resulted in a degradation of trust between himself and his wife and a new white house policy involving a ’buddy system’ so no one is left alone with the president, who is obviously too horny for his own good. Instead, it was applied to a myriad of topics, as if it made sense to say that because he cheated on his wife he is going to ruin the country, or nuke someone out of sheer sexual frustration. A big deal was made out of the fact that he lied about it. The idea was that if he lied about a sexual affair, he must lie about everything. Now, if we were all honest with ourselves for a moment, we would admit that there are certain subjects we feel compelled to lie about, even though we consider ourselves honest. Using the same logic, it is more reasonable to assume that a man lied about a sexual affair because that’s what any man alive would do, and to extend the capacity for deceit to any other subject is a leap that is not justified by any brand of logic.
Along a more hypothetical vein, let’s say someone was running for public office and was giving an interview. During the course of the interview, the journalist asks a question about a taboo topic, like prostitution or drug use, that the candidate has been implicated in. Most people would say that the question is justified, since it would serve as an indicator for the kinds of policies he will support. But does it really? Do any of you really think that politicians are supposed to only write and support legislation that they agree with? If that were the case, anyone could be a politician. The reason public offices are challenging is because you have to put the common good before your own interests. That means in most cases, if the system is working as it should, politicians shouldn’t be consulting their own moral compass. They should be concerned with public welfare and upholding the spirit of our constitution. What makes someone a good politician isn’t the ability to personally agree with the laws that should be made, but the ability to support those laws even when, especially when, they do not agree with them. Questions of personal views serve only as a distraction and fodder for political pundits and media commentators who have only one goal: to tell you what to think. The right questions would be those that concentrate on the policies a candidate will support, not how they personally feel about those policies. It’s irrelevant.
I know the connection of these ideas-equality of sin and politician’s personal ethics- is a difficult one to follow, but if you give it some thought you’ll see what I mean. Personal views are not the same as policy opinions, just like weed is not the same as crack and taking the lord’s name in vain is not the same as murder. All of this should be obvious, but we buy into it again and again just because someone tells us to.
Seriously, people, we need to start thinking for ourselves. The only reason the government has taken all the power away from the people is because we have lost the desire to lead ourselves. We prefer to be led, so we line up behind whatever talking head seems to voice our opinion and mindlessly regurgitate whatever they say, just because they can use some kind of twisted logic to justify it. We’ve lost all sense of reason, of common sense, and of unity. And we’ve done it to ourselves, knowing the inevitable consequence every step of the way, but seemingly unable to help ourselves. We draw our party lines, we organize into camps, we rehearse our rhetoric and our arguements, we whisper to our fellows about how lost and blind the other side is, and the whole time we don’t care that we’ve become mortal enemies of people we don’t even know, all in the name of someone who doesn’t give a shit about any of us. It’s so ridiculous that I’d laugh if it didn’t make me cry.
The lesson we have learned from the activists of the past is that the people, once united, can bend the government to their will. The government has learned this lesson as well, and are doing everything they can to keep us divided. And it’s working, because we let it. Because, on some level, we want it to. It’s the same voice in our heads that urges us to jump from sheer cliffs to certain doom, the same voice that tells us to drive drunk, have unprotected sex, eat unhealthy foods, and perform every other self-destructive activity imaginable. Part of our responsibility as human beings is to resist this urge, to silence this voice, and to recognize the need to see to our own well-being. We carry the same responsibility today, and it should compel us to unite in the face of our tyrannical government, to make positive change, to be the harbingers of a better future. But instead we listen to that voice, and we give in to the urge to hate our fellows over non-issues, to rally behind flags of intolerance and hate, to identify ourselves by political party instead of a desire for a better world, and while we rant and rave and wish death to each other, the people in power keep getting richer and more powerful. And you better believe that they are laughing at us.
Anybody feel like changing the landscape? The first thing you have to do is abandon parties and platforms and start really talking about issues. Forget ’Republican’ and ’Democrat’, ignore the people who are trying to tell you what to think, and unite with the people you feel like you can’t even talk to. Great ideas never come from a group of people who already agree with each other.
Sometimes I think that if someone gave me a microphone and a captive audience I could change the world. Usually I just feel like no one would listen to me. So, is anybody listening?
Written Saturday, March 29, 2008 @ 5:51 PM