Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rigid Attitudes (Don't be a Lemming)

A fellow writer who I shall not name is in danger of excommunication from a certain institution of faith. This isn't really about this writer so much as the concept of living your ideals without forcing them down other people's throats. I don't have to point to the many examples from history.

The sad thing is that even today in the late 2000s, there are pockets of society where nothing has changed. You don't have to look to Colorado City, Arizona to find it, either. Partisan politics is full of it. The stratification in high school is full of it. Even organized religion participates.

What I'm talking about here is policing thought. The news media is biased to the left if you ask a conservative. It's biased to the right if you ask a liberal. While over the past ten years I've discovered myself to be more of a libertarian than anything else. (An interesting aside--a lot of SF writers consider themselves to be libertarian.) From a perspective outside the two mainstreams, you can watch the hypocrisy from both sides. Why don't truly good people run for high public offices? Why would anybody but a power-mad egotist want to expose themselves to the abuse? Jesse Ventura, no matter what you think of his positions, was a good example of an honest person who tried politics. He finally quit because he didn't like being in the mud.

If you are older than 15, you've been in high school. Say no more.

Organized religion is the kicker. Here, we are supposed to be tolerant and accepting, yet we have power zealots like Warren Jeffs. (And I'll let you imagine other names from other faiths.)
When I decided to marry a Catholic, I was nervous because I expected that I would be forced into conversion. Yet, that didn't happen. I have attended Catholic mass as an outsider for the better part of fifteen years, and I have yet to see any overt intolerance. Yet, we all know what a minority of priests did and what the Catholic Church did about it.

In one homily, a priest talked about it. He said he woke up every morning wondering if he would find his face in the paper. At the time, I thought it was the honest fears of a priest terrified of a witch hunt. A few weeks later, his face was in the newspaper. Turns out, this creep had a reason to wake up wondering if his face would be in the paper. He was one of the rapists.

The hypocrisy extends into the corporate world, where after a one-time colleague passed away, the boss issued a statement claiming the guy had good work-life balance. Yet I know the guy worked very long hours, and saying "good live-work balance" is a hell of a lot better than saying "we worked him to death." I'm convinced the stress killed him.

If you don't pay attention to what's going on around you, you are just a member of the herd, no better than cattle. Now, I'm not claiming that being a member of a congregation or being a high school student, or even a card-carrying party member makes you part of the herd. That only happens when you follow blindly. Remember what happened in Guyana.

What we're talking about here is tiny empires. Big fish in a tiny goldfish bowl. Sort of like the foreign movie stars who come to Hollywood with attitude. They find out that in Hollywood, nobody knows who they are and nobody really cares that they starred in Maalalaa Mo Kaya. They go back home where they are big fish in their little fishbowl.

The danger is in saying "well, my church / school / employer isn't like that. That may very well be true. I've been in all those institutions and they all look good at face value. But then, so did Father Molester, absolver of sins, blesser of the poor and wretches, flondler of little boys.

Sometimes, standing up for yourself and what you believe is more important than whether it's accepted by the masses, by the little empire, or even by your family. Go ahead, follow the path to Christ or Allah or Buddha, or the woodland druids. Just do it of your own free will, not because of pressure from outside, trying to scare you by stories of eternal damnation in the deepest, darkest corner of hell because you wrote fiction that included something unholy and God hates fiction about anything other than what is published in Guideposts.

How many loyal Catholics blindly followed Father Molester only to learn the man ascended into The Church as a way for easy access to children to support his despicable behavior. Nineteeth Century thinking let this wretched excuse for a man continue preaching for decades. It's the same kind of unenlightened tunnel-vision that my fellow writer now faces. A Christian church actually trying to drive a husband and wife apart. Think about that.

No comments: