Saturday, September 04, 2010

Morning in Druid Hills

As the first fall like breezes blow over Druid Hills, it is pure delight to sit on the porch, watch the tame sunlight move over the lawn and oaks, and read Gail Collins in the New York Times. It is with nostalgia and bewilderment that I think about the state of the world. Perhaps I am no different from the yapping dog, high pitched complaint in the sweet morning air. Why not just be quiet and content, sip my delicious coffee, take deep breaths and meditate. A blessed three day weekend lies before me.

Still, it is worthwhile to see clearly what is happening in our country this autumn. Ms. Collins writes about Arizona governor Brewer and her poor performance at a debate. Why does her incompetence not register with the Arizona electorate? It would be understandable if, as Plato wrote thousands of years ago, the Republicans were swaying people with brilliant, if untrue, speeches and posturing. But they are not even giving popular, clever presentations. Voters really believe that Democrats are socialists? They really oppose health care for the poor? They want the rich to pay less taxes? They don't want devastating pollution and bank corruption regulated and controlled? 

The only explanation I find is that it must be religion. The American people will believe anything if it is veiled in religious nonsense. The Republicans have figured out how to portray their opponents as evil, to tag Democrats as evil because they are not sticking to the religion of the Founding Fathers. Never mind that the real founding fathers were deists and lived lives of sexual exuberance, that they are far more like Bill Clinton than George W. The Tea Baggers and the corporate Republicans have got Jesus, and voters love their Jesus. Flag and cross are just too powerful to resist.

This week Stephen Hawking explained to us that God did not create the universe. The idea of an omnipotent, all knowing god has been an absurd and contradictory notion for far too long. Science and philosophy have shown the emptiness of the god concept. Nietzsche explained how Christianity has poisoned all sense of what is noble in life. Sartre revealed how logically ridiculous the idea of god is. Hawking knows that science can explain the world beautifully without god. Epicurus knew the same thing long before the birth of Jesus.

And so, this crisp morning, it is clear to me why voters are going to overthrow the Democrats in November. They prefer the ignorance of faith in what oppresses them to belief in science, philosophy, and the truth. Obama is the anti-Christ, the Muslim, the Socialist, the man who dares to oppose the rich and powerful gods of the media, big oil, the corporations, the banks, Wall Street. Better to stick with Beck, with Jesus, with the patriots like Brewer and Palin. Keep out the evil aliens, the Latinos, the Muslims, the infidels. Let the unemployed, the homeless, the sick and weak starve and die. But don't reward laziness. Worship the rich and famous, drool over their dress and their mansions. Work hard for minimum wage, go to church, count your blessings. That's the American way. 

My gay husband remains in New Orleans for Southern Decadence this weekend. He inhabits the kind of world many Americans fear, a hedonistic world of pleasure. Buddha may be right that there is suffering in the world, that it is unavoidable, a part of life itself. Yet I can't help wondering why it is that so much of our suffering is self-inflicted. If there is anything I've learned from philosophy, it is that we should embrace every moment of joy with all our heart-- because tomorrow the materialistic, greedy capitalists may snatch what little we have away.


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