Well, I’ve been reading a few religious opinion blogs lately, and there goes all I thought I knew to be true! I was always incredulous of people who slagged off the likes of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris but now I think I can see how much these smart alecs misunderstand about religion. A “God delusion” it may well be, but how can we deny its importance?
I think that what we atheists refuse to acknowledge is the significance of our own species’ history. We are too quick to turn our noses up at the faith and lifestyle of those who came before us, assuming we are at the peak of human progress. Unfortunately we have no way of knowing what history was really like; what actual, average people were like. We are eager to assume that the reason “they” didn’t accept or respect non-traditional ways of life is because it was, well, simpler types, simpler times, following the diktat of a centuries-old fantasy fiction novel over a thousand pages long that they actually had time to read in those boring old pre-Internet, pre-TV days.
Well, here it goes. I’m willing to take that extreme position of accepting and tolerating those who stand by those traditional values, because who in the hell am I to assume that people of the past were dumber than me? A 25-year-old first world baby, with no ambition not only for myself but for all of mankind? I’m first to say I couldn’t give a shit whether our species survives or not; this, my friends, is a direct result of our beloved individualistic Western “civilisation”. This is where we are now. It’s every man for himself accompanied by some sad illusion of mutual solidarity.
Little people standing up for even littler people, who would benefit far more from just fending for themselves without all this loudmouthed, authoritarian condescension that is ultimately distracting from the bombing of the littlest people of all, the brown people of the Middle East who don’t even really have a voice at all except in the eyes of that generic, sad little girl in that recycled headline for us to feel sorry for when we’re being fed anti-Russian propaganda (themselves struggling against our self-aggrandising cult of the individual). These brown people follow a culture and a belief that clashes directly with ours that our elites must eliminate it, if nothing else, for fear of being outnumbered. Because we will be so easily outnumbered. We believe now that those saddos of the past were all bigoted dingos, bullying and repressing the minorities just to install some sick world order that they believed was moral. I’m tempted to think this, too. But if I am honest with myself, I can appreciate that we would not have gotten this far as a culture if we had encouraged homosexuality, transgenderism, sexual freedom and women’s emancipation to the extent that we do today. We would have died out so long ago if our numbers had begun to dwindle back then in the same way that they are dwindling now in comparison to the rest of the world.
We are privileged, yes. I am privileged for being able to think these destructive thoughts about humanity, for having the right not to procreate and not to be ostracised for it – hell, to be encouraged to it. Be your own woman, they’ll say. Don’t be a lame, stay-at-home mom, they say – break that glass ceiling. Be gay, be unsure of your identity, you are who you bloody damn well say you are because we said so. Or else! Privileged to exist – not privileged for being white, or male, or thin, or whatever is unfashionable these days. That’s just another fun distraction for the bleeding hearts so set on destroying all that their predecessors have built for them.*
Well, if history had gone this way, joke’s on you guys. You wouldn’t be here at all to preach your happy clappy sexcular gospel, because our culture would have been done with long ago. And as I now have the privilege to say, that’s probably OK. Screw Western civilisation. We’re a dirty bunch, and I love it, I thrive on it. I want to get to know every scummy bit of it so I can, opportunistically, have a story or two to tell about us all before I die. Sadly, though, I now realise that this individualism of mine is not the way for a culture to thrive, and the explanation for that is in the name itself.
Kant theorised that our natural antisocial tendencies are what enable society to grow and evolve. We need to create a structure to make it work long term, because we love ourselves so much that we are blinded by hate for most everyone else. This adversity must be delicately balanced to ensure our upward growth.
In the same way, trees in the forest, by seeking to deprive each other of air and sunlight, compel each other to find these by upward growth, so that they grow beautiful and straight – whereas those which put out branches at will, in freedom and in isolation from others grow stunted, bent and twisted. (Idea for a Universal History on a Cosmopolitical Plan, Kant, 1784)
In the past, our species has had the wisdom to focus not on the selfish individual, but on the health of the tribe. A balance had to be met, at the expense of a select few who may have been born on the fringe of normality.** They had to adapt and work with everyone else, like everyone else, for the good of society. Unfortunately that select few was not so few, as it included that pesky half of the population that we call women. Women, enslaved by their reproductive capacities, sustaining not only the species itself but a petrifying grip on the male half, terrifying them with their ways so unpredictable, so mystical yet so intellectually similar that it took a spectacular amount of cunning to keep them subdued and willing to participate in the continuation of a species hellbent on keeping them subdued and willing to participate in the continuation of the species.
Well, hell. I can understand that, too. I think that it is easy, from our ivory towers of wealth and equality, to say that subjugated women and unliberated gay people are bundles of misery and injustice. I mean, hell, the last thing on my mind is babies, and I am far from alone in this respect. Unfortunately, 25 is biologically the prime age for human reproduction. All of our ancestors were well on their way to raising families by this time, but what are people my age doing now? Militarising causes that can only call for our extinction: transsexuality (castration), homosexuality (impossible to procreate), abortion (self-explanatory), pushing women into a man’s world (vilifying and retarding motherhood). Who can blame the right wing for its panic? Who can blame the fervently religious for their intensified fervour? We are drowning in sin, and what is sin but willfully bringing on the annihilation of one’s own tribe?
So come on, millenials. Individual suffering sucks, but you’re only making it worse by encouraging and singing praises for every deviation from the norm. Because I hate to say, and I mean I hate to say it, but there really is a norm. The norm is what brought you to this Earth kicking and screaming, but alive. Society will always have a fringe, and that fringe will always be beautiful through its eccentricity – don’t freaking banalise that. I believe that the best art comes from those who don’t belong. If you strive to make everyone belong, not only are you killing our species, but you’re killing art. And that, my friends, is the biggest travesty of all.
*Let it be said that obviously I don’t think everything from our past is glorious. Slavery, for example, was unnecessary and vile. Some of the things done to women in the name of God or procreation as well. All I beg for here is some sort of middle ground, and understanding.
**Another disclaimer I wish wasn’t necessary: obviously I don’t agree with sentencing these people to any punishment simply for existing. I am merely explaining that it is, indeed, not a wise choice to normalise every possible instance of human psychology.