Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gently Cynical Progress: Learning from the Wisdom of Eric Hoffer

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.--Eric Hoffer, the Longshoreman Philosopher
When my daughter, who's about to cast her very first vote for Barack Obama, was 6, she told me I couldn't be an atheist, because I had no faith. What I have, dear girl, is a healthy cynicism. So healthy, in fact, that it often too vigorously cares, and should shut up.

A gentle cynic himself, Eric Hoffer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor, by Ronald Reagan. From his Wikipedia page:

Concerned about the rise of totalitarian governments, especially those of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, he tried to find the roots of these "madhouses" in human psychology. He discovered that fanaticism and self-righteousness are rooted in self-hatred, self-doubt, and insecurity. As he describes in The True Believer, a passionate obsession with the outside world or with the private lives of other people is merely a craven attempt to compensate for a lack of meaning in one's own life.

Self-righteous fanaticism describes well the current state of Religion and the GOP. Considering the control that Evangelical Airmen have over the US Air Force, one could say it is a very well-armed self-righteous fanaticism that has worked its way into our government. The Evangelical GOP favorite Mike Huckabee offers a stunning example of the Religious Right's successes in running candidates who are more and more theocratic. For these fanatics, religion is not an opiate. It is a crow bar for prying into your rights. It invades our homes, enslaves our women, controls our bodies, decides our law, and fuels our wars.

The US Constitution says your "highest" law is just that. Yours. If your highest law tells you to dictate religion through government, too bad. We call that unconstitutional. You must be stopped. Fascism and theocracy are crimes in this country. It's not a question of right or left. Over two centuries of American Progress proves that free religion is necessary if we are to have any other freedoms. Freedom from religion seems to be the basis for Peace on Earth.

Whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.--2 Chr.15:13

With Gods like that, who needs Devils? How can any Christian read that and then criticize the Koran for calling for the murder of infidels? How can any Christian read that and let me live? I really don't care if there's a god or not, so I don't have to kill you. If you believe the Bible is the word of God, then you must kill me right now. Maybe you don't take the Bible literally. Maybe that just means you should pass amendments to the Constitution banning gay marriage and abortion while forcing prayer in public school and abstinence only sex education?

Maybe Satan wrote the Bible.

The Christian Right has slowly changed the GOP, which has painted itself into a red-white-and-blue cross-shaped corner. They are about to learn something else that Eric Hoffer learned about movements: without self-esteem, they go nowhere. Nothing demolishes self-esteem like failure.

Which brings me to George W Bush. His "...craven attempt to compensate for a lack of meaning..." probably feels downright Biblical to him. He thought God told him what to do. He thought wrong. Or Satan did it. Or something. Those left in the GOP who believe Bush has succeeded, that all is well, that Mike Huckabee will be the next President, will know the empty downsizing of failure soon enough. If Mike Huckabee wins the nomination, it will signal the end of Republican dominance in American politics.

Now we begin the slow, gently cynical progress toward sanity, reason, and tolerance.

Cross-posted at the Daily KOS and Street Prophets.

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