As America spirals into a jolly little polarized wasteland, you can’t help but admire the influence (either by its presence or its absence) that religion has on America, warts and all. I say that without any real love for organized religion. But, for sure we humans have had as much influence on religion as religion has had on us. Religions are perfect examples of how humans created vast social organizations to not only feed the spiritual needs of their communities, but they often are central to solving our communal needs for things like materials shortcomings with acts like ritualized altruism, and community responsibility. In other words, they tend to be the most effective at helping people in need, as political solutions tend take too long, as they spend most of their time arguing about who is going to pay for it.
Religions have been able to impress certain standards of acceptable behavior onto their communities, creating a kind moral scaffolding that grows over time into an intricate framework of ethics that many people come to rely on it as part of their internal moral compass. And with that scaffolding, these modular ethics often became a basic level of crime deterrent in communities the world over (assuming the community mostly subscribe to the same basic ideals, like: ‘stealing is bad’). And from that, religions became the most prolific methods for establishing some basic moral compass in people.
But what happens to a society when successive generations are raised without the aid of any these communal moral compasses to guide them through the uncertainties, conflicts, disappointments and challenges that life is certain to throw each and every one of us? Since the United States seems to be headed down this particular blind alley right now, the US seems like an ideal example of what would happens when…
One thing I have noticed is that people are no longer willing to recognize other people are actual humans just like themselves. They are not seen as people with the same cares, concerns, and fears that we all have. Instead, some have begun to see other people as just “others”.
There is now a tribal bonding that’s going on and anyone outside of that accepted circle is now an “other”. “Others” aren’t the same as us, so many people don’t see “others” as human, so it’s okay to harm or get rid of them somehow. Also, since we no longer share a common ethical north star it’s easier to ignore the “others” and their needs. It’s easier to insult them, or their habits. Their habits that aren’t like ours, and we make fun of them. It also become easier to lump other “others” in with that same group of undesirables.
Something even more curious has been happening, and not just in one country. People have begun to create and adopt whole new overarching myths to quell their cognitive dissonance. it contains not only explanations, but also assurances of divine judgement for the heathens, followed by an eternal justice that just happen to neatly satiate everyone’s revenge fantasies too.
We are seeing all the hallmarks of a religion, with the notable exception of any social responsibility to those people who continue to fall through society’s cracks. And we can’t point the finger of blame at social media or disinformation. It almost doesn’t matter what knocks you over when you’re as off balance as we have been. The myths themselves continue to remain an amorphous juggernaut, self-powered by harnessing the best of our human intentions, then fueling them with our deepest and most primal fears.
Q continues to grow and take on new forms by utilizing a tried and true recruitment tool, the absorption of local stories and beliefs. This is the same method Christians themselves used, it bolstered the local pagan celebrations, and helped them feel better about praying to something new because you were doing so in an old and familiar way. But Q’s power and attraction really comes from its ability to spread doubt. The topic or target barely matters. News, politics, human trafficking, medicine, disease, technology, space, you name it. If you can dust a story with doubt, it taints the entire thing, including the storyteller/newscaster. In other words, Q can provide us with all of the fear but none the comfort or social responsibility those in a true religion feel. There is no comfort because that sense of revenge, and righteous justice being pushed aren’t sacred. They are snake oil to the soul.