Monday, 20 June 2016

Are You Going To Be One Of Them?

The ultimate demonstration of the fact that there is no god of any kind is the fact that you and I exist. For what all-powerful super being, with knowledge of all things past, present and future, and limited only by the workings of their eternally infinite mind (which is to say not limited at all) would create the human being? I am a human being and I am daily reminded of my fallibility, stupidity, frailty and complete inability to do anything but wallow in the absurdity of an existence in which many of us will quite happily do down our neighbours, friends and even family for even the smallest perceived advantage on our part. I ask you what self-respecting deity would create that being and I reply to my own desperate question by saying "None". No deity would, if there ever was one. Therefore, no god exists.

You may wonder why this blog today starts off with theological musings and I must reply that this is because this blog is written as I emerge from an early "after sleep". An "after sleep" is the term I use for that period after your main sleep when you wake up too early, say 6 AM, but after which, happily, you fall back to sleep again. You then exist in a sort of half awake, half asleep kind of state in which various thoughts run through your mind quite lucidly. The most prominent thought in my most recent after sleep was the opening paragraph of this blog. This was closely followed by a very erotic dream the details of which I will not burden you with at this time. 

Instead I'll return to the theological musings. Now I've already infallibly demonstrated that there is no god and we humans are the proof of this fact. So then it comes as something of a surprise to me that so many people alive today would insist, to the point of shoving their gun in our faces, that there is a god. And its not even always the same one. Several million Yahoos in the United States of Americaland, each of them god-fearing individuals who laud the existence of someone whose son they somewhat ironically call the "prince of peace", believe in the Christian god. But they are simultaneously utterly convinced that the best response to armed crime and the threat of some stranger entering your home is to arm yourself with a military grade machine gun called the AR-15. This is despite the fact that, so I read, no domestically held firearm has been responsible for ending a mass shooting event (defined as an event where more than 4 people are killed not including the original assailant) in the last 30 years. In those 30 years there have been literally thousands of such events and tens of thousands of deaths. If you read the pronouncements of the NRA, which I read is a very politically powerful pro-gun organization that buys off elected representatives, you might find this apparent statistic strange because in their literature all you will find is the single idea that if you want to stop yourself being shot along with several of your friends you should have a gun yourself. But many in the NRA also believe in god and he doesn't exist as I've shown. So why should we believe them on this either?

But let's be fair. Its not only (mostly) white folks who think its still the 18th century that we should criticize. In other places there are, for example, violent muslims full of hatred for the West and what they see as its infidel ways that we should criticize. They chop people's heads off and fight wars in places we (if we aren't Americans) only see on a map. Some of them come over to Europe, the birthplace of civilization, and try to commit terrorist atrocities against us. This, of course, means, at least in the minds of some, that anyone of vaguely Arab complexion is as equally as guilty for such crimes as they are. For a man claiming jihad or shouting "Ali Akbar" who tries to kill other people is merely a representative of every Arab-looking person or a cypher for Islam in general. If a muslim kills some people it is because Islam itself calls for the death of every white person who likes apple pie in the world. And, no, I know what you are thinking. This is not the same as saying that if a white man kills someone then, somehow, all white men are the same or equally responsible even though it seems true that two thirds of mass shootings in America are committed by white men. (The only two UK-based mass shootings I can think of, in Hungerford and Dunblane, were also committed by white men.) No. This rule only works for muslims. As we all should know now if a muslim kills someone its because of his bitter and twisted Islamic creed. If a black person kills someone its because black people are base human beings with deadly and criminal urges. If a white person kills someone its because he is, sadly, mentally ill.

This narrative was followed perfectly to the letter here in the UK in this last few days. An MP called Jo Cox was stabbed and shot to death in the street (it is alleged) by an extreme right wing man called Thomas Mair. Cox was an MP who was interested in bringing diverse peoples together if the history about her that is coming to light now in the wake of her tragic death is anything to go by. Mair was very much associated with a quasi-fascist right wing group of bully boys who get their jollies from intimidation of peaceful muslims and others. Their creed appears to be "Get rid of everyone not like me or with whom I do not identify".  Mair's apparent allegiances were demonstrated when a picture of the alleged murderer at a demo came to light and when he gave his name at his first court hearing as "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain". 

Many newspapers in the UK found this tragic and horrifying event quite embarrassing since we here in the UK are currently nearing the end of a period of self-flagellation that has been a campaign to decide if we will choose to remain within or leave the European Union. A number of papers are owned by individuals whose interests are not best served by a pan-European body who, frankly, they have no influence over and so, of course, they are against. The alleged murderer Thomas Mair is also against it and its alleged he was so motivated against it that he killed someone who was, more prominently than most, in favour of remaining. However, many papers did not print Mair's apparent views on the subject straightaway. Indeed, if Mair had not been determined to make sure no one was in any doubt where he stood at his first court appearance maybe they never would have. So for these papers Mair was a "crazed loner" or a person with a "history of mental health problems". This may or may not be true. What we can be sure of is that if a muslim immigrant had shot and stabbed Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage, prominent leave campaigners, then all we would be hearing about now is the evil that stalks our land, its dangerous violence and the foreigners who wish to storm Britain and submit us all to Sharia Law. Luckily, however, the alleged killer was white and so he is just one more mentally vulnerable human being. And its not as if his racist mates want us all to submit to their ideas of how the UK should be, is it? Oh, wait..

Most of the above is served to you today with a heavy layer of sarcasm but there is a serious point behind it or, to be more accurate, probably several serious points. Even the things I have mentioned above are but a small if persuasive sample showing that human beings are very fucked up. The referendum campaign I mentioned above has brought to the surface in the UK the harsh reality of a very ugly scene and I suspect my American readers would recognize it from their own country too. David Cameron, the Prime Minister here, turned over a stone when he decided to have the referendum, which he didn't need to do and which was a matter of self-motivated political expediency on his own part, and now all of us in the UK are finding out what vermin crawl about underneath that stone, usually in the dark and unseen but now exposed for all to see. Part of this ugliness is that racism is as real as ever it was. Part of this ugliness is that some people are more than happy to blame foreigners for anything and see no good in them whatsoever. Part of this ugliness is that people cling to notions of identity forged in their own fevered minds rather than the realities of the world. Jo Cox, now tragically murdered, gave a speech in which she said that what unites us is much more than what divides us and, if you read this blog regularly, you'll know its been a constant theme of mine too. But its not something that everyone wants to believe. There are people, people prepared to use violence and political power to support their beliefs, who want to divide, who want to concentrate on differences and not similarities. They are more than happy to sow hate, provoke trouble and inject as much poison into public life as they can. They think it is in their interests to do so.

It is often the dream of idealists and the utopia of forward-thinkers that the ideal world would be one of both peace and harmony. "The lion will lie down with the lamb" is one poetic expression of this belief indicating that the supposed prey in that scenario need have nothing to fear from the predator. And yet all around us our world is full of prey and predators. You will know from previous blogs that I do not buy into the idea that human beings are basically good. I buy into the idea that they are inconsistent and opportunistic and that not even they can always say why they did something. There is no rhyme or reason. It might also be argued that I'm hardly the best person to talk about the good of humanity since in the past I've written some pretty nihilistic things. I take these charges on the chin, as I must. But its not the end of the story. For when I see a drowning child on yet another boat crossing the Mediterranean Sea or some brown people hunched in the back of yet another truck what I see is desperate human beings not crazed killers or agents of a violent creed. And my instinct is to help people in need rather than to tag and label them first and then retroactively decide if they are worthy of my help or sympathy. 

Now I appreciate that not everyone is like me in that respect but I think they should be. The mentality that asks whose apparent side someone is on before declaring they are worthy of help or, in many cases, even of life itself, is what I regard as an inhuman one. And I would very much like to promote what I regard as a human one, humanity at its best. Jo Cox's alleged killer was affiliated with a group called Britain First. But I want to say fuck Britain first: human beings first. If lines on a map are reason to discriminate against people then those lines have outlasted their usefulness and deserve to go. Yet another plank of many utopias is that people are all regarded equally. Peace and harmony cannot exist unless people are equal, can they? Yet since so many seem not to want either peace or harmony I suggest this can only be because they see some selfish advantage in their opposites. And this is what we together as people must always fight against, the vested interests, those who would put selfish gain over common good. The common good is called the common good because it is always meant to be common and never reserved for someone regarded as privileged or special. Countries, power bases, economic blocks can all be ways to lock in vested interests. We must fight against them all and work for a radical equality in which everyone is always equal and none of these things are ways to privilege some over others, marking some as worthy of certain things and others not. 

Some have argued that Britain's European debate is about this. Some claim to "want their country back" much as, over the ocean, some claim to want to "make their country great again". These narratives are separatist narratives, narratives that regard some as special and some as not. They want to privilege and create insiders and outsiders. I reject them. When I look at the map of the world I see the countries artificially marked on top of the land masses but even more than that I see that everyone is just in the same place: Earth. The world's problems today are not defined by lines on maps, borders and which passport you hold. People won't stop starving or drowning or fighting or believing in various gods just because you pulled up your drawbridge, built a wall around yourself and said "I'm alright Jack". Its all still going to be right there exactly where it is now. People are still going to see bright lights and go towards them if where they are is plunged in darkness. It is in the nature of the human being to try and survive. What kind of person would you be if you blamed people for that? Of course, some will say that its a finite world. Not everyone can win so its better if I do than if someone else does instead of me. I view this mentality as incredibly small. There is more than enough in this world for everyone - if it was organized properly at a level above that of countries (even if by agreement of countries). But it will never be solved if we are around 200 competitors all fighting over the same things. We'll just kill each other interminably. Forever.

In the end my argument here is simple: we need to be the best people we can be rather than succumb to being the worst people we can be, egged on by those with their own agendas of personal enrichment. This won't be easy because being selfish and nasty is incredibly easy. There will always be those who say "Look after number one and to hell with the rest". 

The question is, are you going to be one of them?

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