I was just debating with myself about whether to respond to a jerk who insisted on chiming in on a FaceBook thread started with a picture of a group of Democrats waving to their friends, through this social medium.
He insisted on getting into the middle of this with a series of Bible quotes about the necessity of being born again if you want to see the Kingdom of Heaven.
I grew up with this stuff. Had the T shirt, took it to Goodwill long ago.
But I think we can't really let this pass. That is on one level. Then there is the real work that lies ahead.
I think we need to confront these people directly and point out that Born Again Thinking is a permission people give themselves to see others as lesser and therefore in need of saving. That means, what wisdom they bring is nullified, because they are lesser.
What is needed in order to save people, often from themselves, is a clear determination to use whatever means might be necessary. Manipulation and lying are not sins if the objective is Righteous. That is a core principle of evangelicism, especially in the political arena.
The danger in this thinking, as we have seen, is in the permission this gives people to lie and manipulate and especially to use evangelicals themselves as human shields.
They are specifically enjoined from questioning their faith leaders. They never ask and will deny that there is a deeper financial relationship between the leadership of the evangelical movement and the billionaires whose special interests are at work through the investment of millions of dollars to support and extend the evangelical movement.
Why are evangelicals so adamant about the need for less government regulation and smaller government?
The special interest agenda.
Recently I came across a personal story about a newspaper editor whose editorial board endorsed Romney. They could not say what they really thought because there was an unspoken assumption that they could possibly be fired for contradicting the publisher.
That is an example of how Born Again Thinking has infused itself into the newspaper business, and beyond that to the media in general. Righteousness means that intellectual integrity is a lesser concern.
Thus, has Christianity become totally corrupted by serving the needs of greed.
Perhaps this election has caused the flood tide to finally start receding from its high water mark.
But I doubt it. For one thing, this is a cultural condition that has taken fifty years or so and a great amount of money, billions and maybe even trillions, to create. We can feel good that all of that didn't get Romney the Presidency.
But these people have immediately gone to work on coming up with reasons that they should keep mobilizing, should regroup and try even harder. We should not take this lightly. For one thing, had the economy declined instead of improving slightly, there may have been more people persuaded that Romney was right. That might have made the difference in the other direction.
Next time around, the situation may actually be more uncertain. It is hard to say, but as I take in the landscape and think about the way history might look back on this time from say, a hundred years in the future, I think there may be some rocky times ahead.
It has to be admitted by even the most hard core political junkies, focused on this race or that race, that in the larger picture of the world and all that is going on, our political debate is limited to a very narrow spectrum of the real world.
It is limited by the nature of media, which for all its profound reach, largely promotes a very short attention span and one that does not sustain deliberation at any depth.
After the election, I found Al Gore's "inconvenient Truth" DVD and watched it. I had not seen this since it first came out, in 2006. The thing that most struck me was that it took Gore himself some 35 or more years to get to the point where he was delivering this lecture to audiences all over the globe. The issue hasn't really ripened a lot further since he packaged this presentation up for a larger audience.
We just generally don't have much mental energy as audience members or consumers of entertainment for anything that requires a lot of concentration and sustained effort.
That goes against the grain of the rythm of television and the distracting pace of keeping pace with modern challenges.
Obama's election is not an end. We now have that lesson pretty well in hand from his first four years. Instead, it is an opportunity, if we can use it.
We ought to be able to put together a progressive explanation for the way the world works in the 21st century and how the problems that are the most challenging and worthy of long term effort can be addressed.
We ought to be asking how we can get to the 22nd Century with as much of the human race and as much of the resources of earth intact for generations beyond, as possible.
Are we ready to just assume that by the 22nd century, things will look pretty much like the scenario depicted in the Mad Max movies? Or are we attuned to the practical optimism of Lester Brown in his "Mobilizing to Save Civilization" books?
The latter approach is more likely to produce results. We need to elect a Democrat to succeed Obama, on the basis that a long term agenda for the whole human race is the most crucial plan for survival that can be arrived at by a consensus of American voters.
We need to look beyond the argument about the banking crash of 2008 and the bailouts and to a better way of realizing a world-embracing set of regulations and checks and balances that prevent these modern pirates from holding the world economy hostage. That will take a generation or two to accomplish.
We need, along with that, to force labor and environmental protection issues onto trade agreement agendas and get them into enforceable form. We absolutely need to address this because we will all go down with developing world workers if we do not pay attention. This may take years and maybe decades.
We must get a handle on Climate Change and other related conditions like fishing out the waters of the oceans. If we don't we risk making the planet unsustainable. As in,
billions could die, and we might really be among those.
We have got to get a handle on the human population explosion. If religious zealots can not abide by family planning on a planetary scale, we have to make sure that what they are saying is translated to the public properly. What they are saying is that another billion or two children could be destined to die a painful, lingering death because we didn't want to consider the resources they would need.
It is time that we put the religious argument where it belongs, as a consideration about the welfare of living children and people. Education is the key. In this country, education that gives us all a future to think about and about how to manage our own reproduction empowers us to produce children who really do have a place in the world.
It isn't an easy debate for a lot of people, and it shouldn't be. So, let there be debate and individuals can decide how they would approach their own decisionmaking. But we are past the point were We The 7 Billion People can just leave it all up to chance.
The answer to how can 10 billion or maybe 15 billion people be fed cannot be "God will provide." We have brains. We should use them.
We should learn to see the bigger picture. Immigrants crossing the US border from the south didn't just pop into existence on the border. They came from someplace. Why?
In many cases, when you look into it, you see US multinationals and banks funding a displacement of indigenous farmers whose traditional subsistence methods aren't in sync with profit-centered agribusiness centered on US consumer markets. When people are displaced and their neighbors who have fought this are murdered or otherwise intimidated, they leave with the shirts on their backs and walk north. They become vulnerable all along the way to being mercilessly exploited.
If we make a point of reading books about this subject and becoming aware of the big picture, we see immigration reform in a different light.
Our world is more interrelated and complex than the media is able to reflect. It is not a situation that gives itself to sound bite treatment.
As citizens, our most important role may be in becoming more determined than ever to cut through the wall of distraction that surrounds us and really look at the truth in a way that we may not be used to. For many, those will be new muscles and the exercise of them may be painful at first.
Born Again Thinking, Denialism, and Intellectual Corruption are all around us. They are vestiges of a past when "those who knew best for everyone else" were relied on to understand the world on our behalf and run it for us. That past belongs in the pages of a Charles Dickens novel.
We must write the new chapters of the 21st century on new terms.
That is the opportunity we have gained by electing Obama.