Expelling the Demons of the Opiate
Expelling the Demons of the Opiate
By Manuel Valenzuela
Writer's Note: This is a social criticism and commentary on religion, meant to stir thought and insight into a different way of seeing the world. My wish is not to offend anyone's beliefs, only to open minds to new realms of understanding and to what just might be possible. I do not claim to be right, or to know the truth. Quite simply, I wish only for the reader to absorb this essay with an open mind, willing to challenge all they have ever known and learned.
Into the Mind and Ego
The human brain, like the human body, is a fragile wonderment of evolution, formed with the arrival of life on Earth, layered through the ceaseless continuation of mutation, growing and adapting over the course of Earth history, and combining the innermost reaches of primitive beginnings with those middle layers of our mammalian past and the newer manifestations of our more modern primate present. Over millennia it has grown to its present size, granting us intelligence unsurpassed, dominion over the planet and the power of constant thought. Its power is unmatched, for this most important of human muscles serves as the epicenter of human function and of civilization itself. It is the catalyst that has enabled humanity to thrive and adapt first in a natural environment brutal and difficult and later in our new ecosystem, the city.
Yet inside its magnificence as an instrument of human ingenuity also lies a mind that remains primitive in thought and understanding, unable to extricate from its pillars an ego dominated by reptilian instinct, mammalian fear and human insecurity. Today's brain, while seemingly unsurpassed in its power of thought, while labeled the highest instrument of power yet achieved by a living organism, nonetheless remains the product of human evolution, from our days hanging on tree branches in the jungles of Africa to our hunter/gatherer Diaspora across the regions of Earth to the arrival of modern homo sapiens, a few hundred thousand years ago.
The modern human brain has not changed for roughly 200,000 years, remaining the same in size and capacity as those of our first ancestors of long lost yesteryears. Evolution, after all, works patiently, molding its clay over long epochs of time, not in short spurts of millennia. In our lifetimes, and in those of our ancestors and descendants, evolution of our minds, bodies and of Earth itself cannot be seen, for our short lifespans make it impossible to grasp the complexity of time and the longevity of change. To the human mind time is hard to conceptualize, epochs are unfathomable to understand and evolution is difficult to grasp, given we live a few decades short of a century, nothing less than an infinitesimal hiccup in the long history of Earth.
Thus, the mind of man, whether present and modern or of hunter/gatherer, migrating groups spreading to all corners of the globe in the greatest human Diaspora ever, has remained the same, unchanged and vulnerable to our animal behaviors and emotions, still primitive and fragile to our fears. Granted that we share 99 percent of the same genes as chimpanzees, our closest animal cousins, and are only capable of using eight percent of our brain's capacity, the human brain remains shackled in time, a product of minute and slow mutations, a manifestation of our short yet tumultuous existence and an instrument that has advanced civilization even as civilization has yet to advance our mental primitiveness.
In our mind lies the as always fragile human ego, that demon running rampant inside us, dominating our animal behaviors and instincts, never allowing us to overcome the fear and insecurity of being human. With intelligence has come the ability to think and reason, forever asking ourselves questions as to our origins and our place in the environments we inhabit. We see humankind around us, forming societies, surviving in harsh environments, dominating the planet, yet the ego, and our ability to think, places a heavy burden on the human condition that makes us seek answers to many profound and vexing questions. The ego surfaces inside us, making humans think beyond the realm of understanding. With thought comes this manifestation, as we are very curious animals, needing answers to questions in order to settle down minds running rampant with the human ego. Primitive minds given the ability to reason are thus confronted with the demons of trying to answer, in the only way a primitive mind knows how, questions that human curiosity, fear, insecurity and denial conjure up. This is our burden, and one of our greatest demons.
In the Beginning
In the beginning, when humankind first thought of its place in the known world, living in environments virgin, bountiful and pristine, setting foot in a paradise never to be seen again, journeying far and wide both for survival and a home, in time splitting up again and again, branching out in diversity and to different destinies, a loneliness of existence began setting in. A fear of the unknown, of traversing lands alien and uncomfortable, of confronting threats both human and natural, was spawned from inside a primitive brain not understanding of how Earth and its many complexities worked.
Without the power of the collective brain or the accumulated knowledge gathered over many centuries, without a grasp both of science and the learned understanding of the many laws of nature, lacking sophisticated enlightenment and the ever-important growing awareness of self, our ancestors saw a world foreboding in character and frightful in existence. They saw an environment full of obstacles and dangers. They felt alone in the world as their thinking minds wondered on their origins and reason for living. Slowly but surely human curiosity blended with imaginations, forming an ego that helped explain, in primitive ways, an existence that encompassed early man.
Afraid of loneliness and fearful of the world around them, early humans developed beliefs that would better control the ever-insecure human thought process. In order to understand what was then unknown early man developed entities, known as gods, and stories, myths and fables that explained, in very primitive ways, the world they inhabited. The fear of primitive thought was controlled by stories of how man had been created, helping to restore the human ego's questions on origin and reason for existence. Gods were created, based on the imagination and observation of nature, to help explain the unexplained and the paradigms of fear the natural world conveyed.
By introducing the concept of gods, early humans were able to find meaning in their world. They were at once able to differentiate themselves from animals and the natural world surrounding them. Questions that arose were answered easily enough through stories and myths created out of human ingenuity and imagination, and soon nature itself became a series of gods, as did anything not understood that needed explaining, such as the sun, moon, rain, wind, water, fire, the seasons, soil, harvest and the animal world. The concept of being alone in the world was erased as stories of creation and of metaphysical entities made man the foundation of existence, placing us at the throne of Earth and helping, in many ways, to squash the incessant fears early man had of the world it inhabited. Thus, questions were answered, the ego was satisfied, and the idea of religion was born.
The world enveloping early man was mesmerizing, an unfathomable amalgam of perplexing complexity and balance, and in time, as we began dominating the natural world, as our confidence and powers grew, as our dominion over all things living increased, religion became the dominant force affecting our lives and futures. As primitive as early religion was, though some say modern ones still are, it retained the idea that humanity was one with nature. With a wide variety of gods, each representing one or several realms of the natural world, humans were made to respect the world around them. In those days, humankind was still part of nature, and so had to live according to its balances and its rules.
Another reason for the introduction of religion into human societies was the reality of death, and of the profound refusal of the human mind to accept a finality to life. In the human condition exists the foundation seeking ever-lasting life, of not wanting to contemplate that after one's last breath finality to life sets in. Our ego refuses to postulate such a thought, for the human mind insists on a continuance to life through a journey through the metaphysical where it is believed we will continue existing, though outside the body. We cannot accept that no afterlife exists, for this would mean that after living the human insistence of life ceases to exist, making us vanish from all existence.
Based on fear of death, belief in life after living on Earth, or of reincarnation, resurrection or rebirth, assures the fragile and insecure human mind that there is nothing to fear once one's present life on Earth ceases to exist. It is this thought process that has for hundreds of thousands of years led to rituals of death and of burial. Death has been and continues to be seen as a continuation, not an end. In this clever way, the human ego grants us the illusion that life has meaning and purpose, for if we die a new life awaits in the afterlife. In denial of emptiness after death, religion makes the insecure human mind conceptualize death. It is in these beliefs that the human mind is assured that death is not to be feared for the continuance of one's life will exist into perpetuity.
In our refusal to accept an end to life religion has thus survived, for religious dogma, in all regions of the planet, in all societies, guarantees life after death in some way, shape or form. Religion has for millennia gripped the fear humanity has of never again existing after death and has created elaborate stories and fables assuring us of that will be well, that in the afterlife we can trust. Thus the continuance of one's life, even after knowing what happens to flesh and blood after death, becomes an elaborate exploitation of human fear of death, thereby assuring us that if we follow such beliefs and religious thought, our place beyond the rotting carcass, the feeding maggots and putrid smell of death is a foregone conclusion.
Religious belief grew out of our feeble ability to grasp the enormity that is the universe, Earth, time and space. It grew out of our ever-curious minds, of our wanting to know our origin and our purpose. It grew out of our ego's insistence that we are different, and by consequence superior, to our mammal cousins and all other creatures existing on the planet. In order to solve questions we could not answer in the reality of life we created religious belief; in order to persuade our fragile and primitive egos of our glorious creation as rulers of Earth dogma was established; in order to placate our fears of the unknown and mysterious gods and myths were formed. In religion humanity found a salvation to the ever-thinking brain, to the need of finding answers where non existed, of satisfying curiosity and fears.
Early man came to understand that it thought, therefore it existed; it outsmarted, therefore it was superior; it understood, therefore it feared. The ego from where all religion sprung forth assured early man that it was beyond animal, that it was profoundly different, a manifestation of the gods. In religion it found satisfaction that there was purpose in life, that the gods looked down on weak egos from the unreachable and mysterious skies above. Religious belief in deities invisible and elusive assured our early ancestors that they were not alone in the vastness of a world they understood little about. When the natural world provided manifestations both bewildering and unexplained, doing what it has done since the beginning of time, thereby spawning fear into primitive minds, it was religion, its gods and stories that explained the unexplainable and made a frightful world suddenly seem purposeful. In the form of myths and fables, suddenly the world became understandable and decipherable. Out of chaos order could now be found, helping to put at ease primitive minds living in primitive and insecure environs.
Through all corners of the globe religion planted its sturdy roots, establishing itself in all societies and cultures. It was the universal human instinct, along with our similar thought processes and our ever-present ego, that enabled the metaphysical to rise from the lands of Earth, manifesting its existence in the minds of men and forever cementing both the foundations of meaning behind life and companionship in this world, making our existence less lonely through the myths of always watching gods overlooking their cherished creations.
All peoples, diverse in climate, location and environments, in culture, experiences and ethnicity created for themselves gods, myths and fables, some more elaborate than others. With no interaction between the vast majority of these tribes, religion took hold, in separate places and spaces, both in proximity and distance in time. Separated by vast oceans, arid deserts, frozen tundra or dense jungles, each people's beliefs and gods were different, yet the idea of creating and worshipping deities existed throughout the world. Today we can see this reality in Paleolithic cave paintings in Eurasia celebrating an ancient artist's deities; we can see it in African or Asian idols carved or molded; we can see it in North and South American cave dwellings, worshipping painted images; or in the painted rocks of Australia, where ancients celebrated the natural world.
Throughout the world entire the incessant human need to feel comfort away from loneliness rose from the minds of curious undertakings and imaginative answers. We were made to feel special and wanted, a creature chosen from the gods of nature to rule over the lands of Earth and all its creatures. Answers to where we came from were provided, helping place security in the meaning of life, helping the primitive and curious brain find solace as it journeyed inside a world with few answers and a universe of unfathomable understandings. Because of religious belief the search for answers to questions perplexing and frightful ended. Answers once sought were now provided by gods and their fables.
In all corners of the globe the human ego birthed creations and beliefs explaining a world not understood by primitive beings burdened by thought and reason. Rising independent of each other, various and diverse theologies show the psychology, fragility and inquisitiveness of the human mind. In all peoples, in all times and places, religion rose to provide the ego with the tools needed to survive and understand human society and culture. It was evolution of thought, for primitive peoples in need of answers, lacking the knowledge, technology and scientific exploration of today, that rose to make humankind's interaction with the natural world around them more manageable.
Delusion and Denial
As the human primate continued to evolve its behaviors, societies and communal brain it found itself dominating and manipulating the natural world like never before. Suddenly blasting off on a space ship did we find ourselves, embarking on a monumental ego trip that we have yet to descend from, travelling the stars and planets, lost in our thoughts of grandeur, of blessed and destined creations, every year more miles away from reality, thinking ourselves supreme beings over all things living, granted endowed dominion and inherited rule over the wonders of life on Earth.
With religious belief making possible the distinction between man and animal, with myths and fables differentiating us from our mammalian relatives, making us rulers over all things living, the detrimental exploitation of the planet and its creatures could commence. Key to the belief of religion was the concept that humans were indeed chosen by the gods, created superior to all other living organisms, a separate form of existence from all lower life forms.
For the human ego could not and still refuses to accept that man is but mammalian in birth, just another animal roaming the planet, one species of many, part of the same amalgam of creation spawned by the first pools of primordial beginnings. This concept, religion, thanks to the ego, could not and would not allow, for to be seen as equals with the animal world would be to see past the mirage of our great supremacy and the charade that man was put on this planet by gods of illusion in order to rule over all things living.
The idea that man and beast were one and the same was forever erased, for to acknowledge this truism would be to place humankind on par with "lesser" species, relegating our existence to theirs and their lives to ours, making us equals to creatures we dominated and ruled over. If humans were chosen by gods, animals were made to be dominated; if humans died and continued into the afterlife, animals simply decomposed in time; if humans alone could think and dream, animals were seen as dumb and without intelligence. The reality that we reproduce, feed, breathe, function, behave, give birth and raise offspring in similar ways was ignored. So to was the truth that our bodies were composed of the same organic matter, containing the same organs inside and the same hair and skin outside, bleeding red, urinating yellow, defecating brown, being born, living and dying in much the same ways.
Every attempt was made to differentiate ourselves from the mammalian world we belong to, making humans superior and animals inferior, making humans rulers and animals subservient. Our ego once more interfered with our psychology, preferring to dwell in fantasy rather than confront reality. This erroneous fallacy haunts us to this day, for to deny the reality of our existence is to deny reality itself. To deny the impulses of our condition is to deny humanity itself. Accepting that we were but part of the animal world and not chosen by gods or placed to rule over Earth would be too much for human egos to dwell, making most religions, so full of self-aggrandizement and ego-driven fiction, the archaic fantasies they are and relegating most to the dustbins of history.
Because man did not comprehend the complexities of nature, the communications of animals, the interactions among species or the behaviors of organisms he made and labeled inferior that which he did not understand, thinking himself the supreme being on Earth, always willing to differentiate himself away from his not too distant past. Not wanting to be associated with that that troubled him most, not wanting to confront reality for fear of upsetting his ego, man embraced myth and fable, becoming blind to common sense and reality, living in an infallible bubble of intoxicating magnificence.
In distancing ourselves away from who and what we truly are we have entered a vicious circle of ignorance and ego, living deluded lives amid an enveloping reality. This demon of fiction is devouring humanity itself, tearing us apart from inside, for we refuse to expel it from our midst. Living in the comfortable bubble of denial will be our ultimate downfall.
The Opiate of the Masses
As humanity evolved so too did religious thought, and soon entire regions of accumulated peoples and tribes were practicing the same beliefs. Through conquest, invasion, occupation and the growing interaction of various diverse peoples, ideas and beliefs new tenets were incorporated and old ones discarded. New gods rose while others disappeared. Over time deviations of dogma sprung forward as sects and priests interpreted stories differently, creating diverse branches out of one original belief system. Religions evolved according to the environments where groups lived or based on experiences such as war, drought or shifting alliances. From the strongly rooted beliefs of one tribe that had over time become balkanized or splintered appeared dozens of separate and mutated religions and beliefs, each shifting ideology or belief according to new rulers and priests, based on balances of power and on vested interests.
Over centuries varied differences in belief appeared, creating friction that oftentimes led to armed conflict. Areas such as Mesopotamia, with a large and growing population of various diverse peoples and ideas, soon became regions afflicted with religious strife as out of one original religion many more had over the years been spawned. Christianity, Islam and Judaism, not to mention the beliefs of ancient Greeks and Miceneans, all formed from the same mother theology based in and around the Middle East, most likely from the first civilizations, are the most prominent examples of three separate religions whose origins share one common beginning.
Many more religions mutated away from their original one, some to evolve in different directions and some to die with the passage of time. This phenomenon, as always visible with religion, can presently be seen in the various sects of Christianity that established themselves apart from the original, first in Northern Europe and later in the United States, commencing a few centuries ago after splintering away from the monolithic Roman Catholic Church, itself a mere 1,600 years old.
And so, as humankind evolved the city state and the empire, religion became, especially to those practicing in and around the Mediterranean Sea basin, a hotly contested interaction to see whose gods were greater than the other's. Ancient powers such as those of Sumeria, Egypt, Greece, Macedonia, Rome, Assyria, Phoenicia, Carthage, Babylonia and Persia, to name but a few dominant players, waged ceaseless war against each other, often for conquest, land, resources and for the expansion of empire, but also for religious purposes, thereby establishing whose gods continued into the future and whose gods had their statues knocked forever to the ground, made extinct in the realm of humanity, thereby becoming eerie reminders that religions, gods, myths and fables, as powerful as they might appear, always shift with the balance of power just as they do with the changing sands of time.
With the rise of the city-state, and to a much lesser degree with the smaller tribes as well, grew the politicization of religion by the ruling classes, comprised of royalty and high priests. The fusion of governance and religion, in large and growing city-states, combined with the greed, selfishness and addiction to power inherent in the human condition to form a mechanism of powerful rule over a population. In organized religion the elite saw a most powerful weapon of control and of retaining, and indeed expanding, both wealth and power through the manipulation of the masses.
Few human beings during these times possessed any semblance of education, much less the ability to write and read. What they did possess, however, was a very naive and gullible mind, easily manipulated, through the control of religion, to the dictates of those in power. To most human beings since the rise of civilization, religion has been the most important aspect of their lives. For millennia religion has purposefully been the center of life, becoming to most societies of paramount importance, dominating every facet of society. Thus, in the unenlightened and poor of history, comprised of most of humanity, made firm believers and worshipers in metaphysical entities from the moment of birth, having nothing to live for except the hope of faith and the expectation of afterlife, religion became the very fabric of their existence. This the ruling elite knew well, exploiting ignorance and faith for the benefit of their growing power and dominion over the masses.
Those in power know, just as they always have, regardless of society or region, that religion acts as a great wall or buffer that maintains the balance of power as it has existed throughout history, controlling the majority, keeping them subservient to the elite. They know that religion is a weapon attaching itself to the frail human ego that cannot accept a reality that is not easy to contemplate. Religion provides a sense of security to a human mind that cannot and perhaps does not want to see humanity for what it is. In religion man becomes special, a creation made in the image of gods, chosen to rule over Earth, thus making him a most magnificent being.
Man becomes not the lonely primate roaming a tiny planet in search of survival, behaving just like any other organism, born, procreating and dying, decomposing and disappearing, but rather a holier than thou entity watched over and protected by god(s), possessing perpetual life through an afterlife, continuing to live in the metaphysical, becoming much more than mere animals. Through religion we become loved by our creators. We are provided with answers to unanswerable questions, made secure that we are not alone, assured that there is meaning to life, made to feel safe in the ever-present human fear of the unknown.
The frail human ego desperately clings to religion as an escape to a life made hard and brutal, preferring to live in fantasyland rather than confronting the hard truth about our existence. Religion is our opiate, having become throughout history our escapist drug, helping us cope with the life of a human being, full of suffering, brutality, violence, poverty, fear and insecurity. Our opiate quenches our ever-thirsty mind, providing easy answers to a brain that is in constant thought.
It was, and still is, an evolutionary mechanism for a mind that remains primitive, refusing, or not yet being able to see the human condition for what it is, helping us cope with an ego that is as frail as fine china. It is a tool provided a primitive mind that is confronted with endless thoughts and questions, a way to better explain the world to a species burdened with the overwhelming intelligence and curiosity we possess. Religion developed at a time when the human brain, though as modern as ours today, was not ready to confront truths and realities in the world. It evolved at a point in our existence when little was known, knowledge was limited, primitiveness abounded, science had yet to explain and the world was full of fear and insecurity.
Organized religion is humankind's opiate, fed to us by the elite and those whose interests lie in controlling our minds, wishing for nothing more than the continued subjugation, pacific complacency and lingering in perpetual stupor of the masses. A once noble human creation, providing primitive minds a sense of security, has been bastardized and exploited over the years. Warm philosophies of humanity, such as those espoused by prophets and visionaries such as Jesus and Mohammed, are routinely mutated to suit the needs of those in power. Rarely are the messages espoused by true warriors of peace and love heard and applied.
These messages, preached the world over by a multitude of persons, regardless of time and space, are conveniently forgotten, easily espoused but rarely implemented, used only to control and manipulate. For the elite to allow the masses to follow and implement the teachings of Jesus, himself a normal human being turned political activist, upset at the bastardization of religion he witnessed and extolling the virtues of what today is termed "socialism," would be to self-strangulate themselves, forced to give up their vast wealth, power, control and forever putting a stop to the massive exploitation, subjugation and oppression they have for millennia imposed on the masses.
The Chalice of Control
Religion serves the interests of the elite, making the masses easily controlled beings dominated by a few and forever made blind to their perpetual exploitation. From the moment of birth hereditary conditioning is imposed on a newborn human subject, over the years turning him or her into another cog in the system of control. It begins through the indoctrination of religious beliefs by parents and family onto a still innocent mind incapable of reason or of thinking on its own. Absorbing all behaviors and beliefs of the family, the sponge-like, curios mind of youth has no option but to incorporate into its sphere of understanding the principles and dogma being bombarded into its head.
Through years of inculcation, the child grows up without options or an opportunity to question the beliefs learned. Years of brainwashing into a particular religion make it extremely difficult for the mind to escape the grip of belief once it reaches the age of reason, when it begins thinking on its own. For eighteen to twenty years religion digs deep into the mind, becoming part of the person, part of the core set of beliefs, a habit that will not easily be expelled. With such a profound head start over the reasoning, self-thinking human mind, religion is all but assured of life-long loyalty and subservience. The managers running the control factory turning out an assembly line of captured souls could not be happier.
Using the parents as conduits of brainwashing, organized religion, and the elite that control and run it, have perfected the soul-conscription business, almost without expense creating new followers. In a vicious circle of unconscious consequences, parents, themselves in the grip of religion since their birth, unsuspectingly become the assembly line workers of the elite that control them, passing the demons of the opiate onto their children through their incessant following and teaching of beliefs and behaviors. Parents thus become the worker bees and soldier ants of religion, passing down through the generations the same grip of control and conditioning they themselves received at the hands of their parents.
This intergenerational soul manufacturing activity, where ancestors past and descendants present find themselves trapped in a vicious circle of brainwashed inheritance, passing to each subsequent generation the torch of conditioned belief, is the genius behind the elite's vice-like grip of control, and the reason religion, no matter how many times and in how many different ways gets destroyed by today's sciences or modern thoughts, keeps subsisting, year after year, regardless of how fantastical beliefs get and no matter how deviated from truth and reality it becomes.
The elite are well aware
that brainwashing works best in youth, when the mind has not
had time to grow in wisdom and experience. It is during this
time that the innocent mind will believe almost anything
thrown its way, especially if family preaches it or
encourages its dissemination. This is the function of
religious schools and services, for they are created with
the purpose of molding and conditioning the innocence of
youth into the controlled souls marching in the army of
religious belief, lasting for many decades of service, from
cradle to grave. Dogma is blitzkrieged into young minds,
transforming the brain of young primates into the
subservient mind of adults, now easily controlled
through the manipulation of youth.
These adults, in turn, will in
most likelihood become lifelong slaves to the system
exploiting and controlling them. In fact, they never really
stood a chance to escape as the brainwashing of youth,
lasting twenty or more years, firmly planted itself into the
mind, becoming a deeply entrenched and ingrained part of
their psyche and behavior, through the years eviscerating
any semblance of rational, analytical and logical thinking.
Deeply rooted in the mind after years of indoctrination,
beliefs make blind obvious reality and unquestioned truth,
eroding the inherent human need to question
Common sense gives way to trust and faith in fantasy, myth and fable, placing the unseen, unknown metaphysical entity above the truisms of fact and realism. This is control; this is the demons of the opiate.
in youth that religion is bombarded into minds, for the
virgin brain is ripe for picking, using the tools necessary
for lifelong service and enslavement, for the elite know
that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Constant
repetition, memorization of songs and ideology, telling and
retelling of myths and fables, pushing the mind away from
the inherent need to seek questions, pushing the boundaries
of reality, forcing the creation of habits and rituals,
intimidating and frightening based on lies and deceptions,
manipulation of psychologies, hiding other alternatives and
views, eroding reason and
analytical thinking and providing a dumbing down education are all tools used to indoctrinate, manipulate and subjugate. They are the cocktail contained in the chalice of control. The child, therefore, stands not a chance at escaping the conditioning of youth, carrying into adulthood the demons of the opiate, passing onto a new generation, through the assembly line called human procreation, the brainwashing needed for the elite to control and enslave yet one more soul.
The Enemy of Religion
Education is the enemy of religion, for the enlightened human brain possesses the building blocks needed to combat the demons of the opiate. It is able to confront fantasy and distinguishing fact from fiction, analyzing and thinking for itself, not being controlled by rulers, high priests or false prophets dictating what was, what is and what will become. Education is the kryponite of the elite who depend on religion for control over the masses, for it causes the independent mind to think in shades of gray, not simply in black and white. It logically embraces common sense and the reality perceived in the world, not in ancient myth and fable. Perhaps for this reason religion fights incredibly hard to suppress knowledge and new awakenings, trying desperately to squash reality before truth adds yet another nail in the coffin of fictional belief.
Education provides answers that stand the test of time, based on scientific inquiry, observation and dialogue. It is not dependent on the preachings of modern day Rasputins or of ancient stories no longer relevant to the world of the 21st century. Education and enlightenment, when not made insignificant through the brainwashing of youth by family and religious institutions, tends to create open minds and tolerant behaviors. It emancipates primitive minds, freeing us to explore an awe-inspiring world full of wonderment and questions, full of answers and solutions. Education equals liberation, which is why religious elites detest it. It liberates the mind and allows the soul to experience the enjoyment of life on Earth, free of the hindrances, threats, controls, sacrifices, inculcated guilt, manipulated behaviors and indoctrinated fictions bombarded by religious belief.
For the ruling elite to maintain the control over the masses, education and enlightenment must not be allowed to flourish, lest the accumulation of souls dissipate. It is therefore imperative that if education is allowed to exist, it be of the kind beneficial to religious belief. It is this reason that compels religions, and the elite that dominate them, to control what gets taught to children. Throughout history, the elite have participated in the so-called education of youth, under the rubric of providing the tools necessary for one's future getting the opportunity to mold, according to their liking, the future minds of generation to come. In reality, what is provided is not education, but rather the means by which incessant brainwashing is unleashed upon the fragile mind of youth.
A dumbed down education combined with theological indoctrination makes ignorance grow, thus making it easier to control the minds of youth and adults. Knowledge is power, which is why the elite do not care to empower the minds they want to control. Dumbed down educations serve their purpose, creating loyal servants who will never question authority or demand change. To political and religious elite, not to mention those in the Establishment, the less education a child receives the better, for more controlled will that person become.
Less education means less resources, which usually means a worsening socio-economic status. This in turn leads to the perpetual caste system that serves to create the slaves and workers of the Establishment along with the captured souls of religion. With less resources and education, the role of women becomes that of childbearer and caretaker, made subservient to her husband, while that of the husband is devoted exclusively to bringing home a wage. Preoccupied with surviving, this caste of humans does not seek to question authority or think about the philosophies of life. They have little time and energy, and so are well controlled. The more indigent and unenlightened a couple is the more likely it is they will have a high number of children. This in turn fosters indigence and a perpetual caste status as resources must be divided among many. Most likely, the children of this couple will never get past a sixth grade education, in time becoming deeply rooted to the destiny the political and religious elite have set aside for them.
The more indigent and less enlightened a person is the more likely it is that they will be religious, depending on the fictional teachings of religion to make a harsh life bearable. In their misery and poverty they will ask their religion for solutions, asking why they received what they have, getting answers that whitewash reality and circumvent truth. Lies that theirs is the kingdom of heaven, that blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the world, that in life they must sacrifice in order to achieve a place in heaven will be told. Not having any other choice, they will believe, told to have faith in a salvation that will never come. The same institution they place blind faith in serves to exploit and control them, depending on their souls for continued existence and power.
Is it any wonder that Christianity has moved away from Europe, where churches today see only a trickle of gray haired believers, and where education and socio-economic status have risen, and has adopted a strategy of pursuing souls in the indigent-filled, education-lacking populations of the south, shocking and awing the peoples of Africa, Latin America and Asia, most of whom have nothing to live for except the next day and their next meal? In misery religion finds a gold-mine and incredible opportunities to convert souls, as it does in time of upheaval or calamity. The frail human mind, as well as our weak egos, cannot handle the conditions of suffering. In these times we are more likely to turn to the opiate that offers solace and comfort, like the drug that it is offering us escapes into realms of nonexistent worlds, mythical charades and unseen deities. We are human, after all. All too human.
Expelling the Demons of the Opiate
Religion, as it is known today, was created for the world of yesteryear, when very little was known about the world surrounding us. Without knowledge, education, science and experiences accumulated over millennia, the world was a very mysterious and frightful place. It was during this time that religion served a valuable purpose, giving comfort and security to primitive brains in need of answers and gods. Today's religions, focused on those birthed in the Middle East thousands of years ago, the product of one original faith, are a relic of the past, archaic in principle and primitive in thought.
They were designed for ancient peoples, not those of today. They have failed to evolve with civilization, refusing to accept the logical steps of evolution any entity, organic or societal, needs in order to survive. Instead of adapting, they have stayed behind. Instead of going forward in time, they have regressed backwards, too mesmerized by ideology and too fearful of change to continue serving humankind.
These religions continue to live in fantasy, swallowing up the incredible talents of humankind, erasing from memory entire cultures and peoples. They continue to hinder the development of mankind, forcing with all their might to return civilization back in time, to days when their ideology dominated. Today, their beliefs are under assault, slowly disintegrating under the weight of modern thought and advancement. Yet they maintain their self-defeating course, reinventing their convictions under different terms and philosophies, always seeking to maintain ignorance among their subjects.
Their tenets divide humankind, causing perpetual conflict and violence. They scapegoat diversity and seek to tarnish those not of their beliefs or thinking. Threats to their existence are persecuted, such as those truths uncovered by Galileo, Copernicus and Darwin. The fables and myths written in times ancient and primitive, mostly by men of limited wisdom, are used to justify their unjust wars, causes, their unequal treatment of humans, their bigotry, their xenophobia, homophobia, intolerance and their continued domination over their subjects. Through the words of primitive men they justify the teachings no longer relevant today.
These religions of the past which continue lingering into the present thrive on ignorance and fear, for in these tools of control they can maintain power and a semblance of subservience. Their leaders deceive and manipulate their flock, exploiting blind faith and brainwashed belief to achieve their goals. They refuse to adapt to present environments and conditions, in essence contributing to the suffering, violence, indigence and death of believers. Better to stick to archaic thought than to save the lives of billions.
Modern pragmatism and primitive delusion are mutually exclusive, it seems, which is why today Europe basks in the glow and prosperity of secularism while the United States succumbs to the catacombs of fundamentalism, slowly being dragged down back to the Dark Ages. Once under the grip of religion, the EU and its people are progressing forward, successful in expelling the demons of the opiate from its midst. No longer brainwashed, no longer controlled by religion, no longer sacrificing for a second coming that will never arrive, Europeans are free to live life to the fullest, enjoying the splendors of today and not waiting for the salvation beyond the grave. Europe is not perfect, but it is, more and more, free of the corrosive grip of Christianity that for years threatened to destroy the fabric of society.
It has been religion, along with nationalism and patriotism, that has caused more death, destruction and suffering than any other human endeavor since the beginning of time. All because of pissing contests to see who's gods are greater than the other's. All because of wars to convert souls, to create loyal subjects and appease the gods of invisibility and metaphysical existence.
Realism over fundamentalism, humanism over primitivism, modernity over archaic thought, a better belief system exists, if one is needed at all. Humanity needs a system adapted for modern man, free of control and corrosive brainwashing, one that embraces humankind and actually serves to assist the less fortunate rather than oppress them even more. Throughout history there has been a plethora of theologies, each independent in time, place and space, none of which can claim to be the rightful one. Religions thrive and die, maturing and declining, always replaced by newer, more attractive ones. Today's religions were not the first to arise, and they will certainly not be the last to arrive and thrive. It is a matter of time before adaptability, modern thinking and wiser beliefs prevail to create beliefs more in tune to human beings of today.
Religion can serve a purpose, and it can be a wonderful mechanism for humanity, yet the philosophies of great prophets such as Gandhi, Jesus and Martin Luther King need to be incorporated into today's spirituality, replacing the hatred-filled, vengeance-seeking, violence-laden, arrogant and callous god of the Old Testament. If you are a follower of Christianity, then follow Christ's teachings, do not become the hypocrite espousing but rarely, if ever, implementing his words into action.
We need to evolve religion, for if not, it will regress humankind back to days dark and perilous, never allowing us to move forward in a warm embrace of new understandings and knowledge. If you must believe in something, then believe in humanism, in compassion, in peace, love and togetherness. Believe in the Earth and the splendors of her surface. Believe in nature and in saving it from ourselves. Believe in the human race, for divided we stand not a chance yet united we will thrive. If we fail to embrace in locking arms then soon we will perish as a species, for the day is fast approaching when the human animal will once again resurrect itself inside us. Together, however, we hold the keys to unchaining humankind from the grips of self-annihilation and corrosive and divisive theology. It is time to evolve forward in time, expelling the demons of the opiate, leaving behind the cancerous beliefs holding man in perpetual bondage, hindering our incredible potential.
The Evolution of Revolution is upon us, for, until proven otherwise, there is but one god, and that is humanity.
Mr. Valenzuela’s new novel is now on sale through Authorhouse.com at Echoes in the Wind Sales Page. A philosophical, educational and spiritual story on humanity and our civilization, as relevant as today’s headlines, this book is almost 600 pages in trade paperback form on sale internationally through secure web page transaction. Additionally, the novel is now available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, as well as other online book sellers. If preferred, the novel can also be ordered at any local brick and mortar bookstore worldwide through the book’s ISBN number, 1418489905.
Manuel Valenzuela is social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst, Internet columnist and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel now published by Authorhouse.com. A collection of essays, Beyond the Smoking Mirror: Reflections on America and Humanity, will be published in early 2005. His articles appear regularly on http://www.informationclearinghouse.info . His unique style and powerful writing is read internationally and seeks to expose truths and realities confronting humanity today. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. A collection of his work can be found visiting his archives and by searching the Internet