I haven’t been able to write for a week and now I know
why. I have been watching the events in the U.S. and
abroad with increasing concern over the survivability
of the enlightenment. You know, the philosophy that
says we have the ability to make decisions for
ourselves based on one’s reason, objective observation
and mutual decision making.
The Declaration of Independence was clear about the
influence that that common men should have over their
own lives. “ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” These thoughts
are based directly in the thinking of the
Enlightenment that reason should prevail over office,
privilege or brute power.
Unfortunately when we review history we realize that
the battle for enlightened thought is a constant
battle against those who would control the lives of
others. We fail to realize most of the time that we
have been living in a small microcosm of history that
has more downs than ups, more devastation and war then
peace and more exploitation than elevation of mankind.
Our current run at moving up the evolutionary
scale has stopped and we are headed down for a while,
if not forever.
The selection of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict
XVI disheartened me greatly. Any sign that the church
was going to come down on the side of humanity rather
than authority has vanished. One of the last chances
for a moral voice to salvage mankind from his own hand
will not be there. Indeed, we may see the end of the
Age of Enlightenment in my time. Am I not
overreacting, you say? I think not.
This is a 78-year-old man who claims a purity and
knowledge of God and His will, but has never held a
women he loves in his arms lost in passion, nor has he ever
held a child in his arms right after its birth,
still speckled in its mother’s blood. He also has
never lost his job to an immigrant or to
“outsourcing”, or found himself with an unexpected
pregnancy he can’t afford without hurting the other
children because his new job with Wal-Mart makes him
just enough money to deny him public assistance with
food, healthcare and childcare but not enough to
afford the company plan. He has never found himself
15 and pregnant by his father, or found himself with
HIV because the church told him artificial
contraception was a sin. He seems to have never found
himself in the situation of a young trusting altar boy
molested by his priest or what felt what it is like to
be rejected as a homosexual.
This is a man who is proud to have crushed the
“heresy” of liberation theology as leading to
upheaval and empowerment of the masses. This reflects the
fear of loss of authority in Benedict’s
history. A man who has never had to go home and tell
that woman he loves that he has to move his family
into the slums of a giant city because cheap corn has
flooded the market and they cannot live on the land at
those prices. He is a man who never has to send his 13-year-old
daughter to work in a maquiladora for $1.75-a-day for
long shifts where the workload is increased constantly
so they won’t lose the job to slave labor in China.
A man who has never had to leave his family to migrate
across the border to try and get a job working for a
contractor who steals half his wage to work in the
fields all day, and lives in a crowded room so he can
send money home.
Conservatives like to point out his intellect, but the
problem is that Benedict’s intellect is limited to his experience, almost all in top down institutions, a policeman father, the Nazi Youth Corps, a German boot camp, the seminary, academia, Vatican service. He has not even had the experience of pastoral ministry, caring directly for the needs of a flock and the conflicts of life with dogma.
This is a man who we know was raised in Hitler’s
Germany. Even though he denies any affiliation with it
he expresses through his history of dogma driven authoritarianism. It is said that he was turned from a moderate liberal (whatever the that is) to a conservative by student demands for equality and the right to question authority while a faculty member of University of Tübingen. His reaction appears to be a fear based view that saw the disorder of change in the sixties as comparable to the conditions of economic and cultural chaos feared by the establishment with the rise of Bolshevism. Much of the justification for the barbarism of the Nazis was the threat that the Bolshevik driven trade unionism posed to the established order of wealth. While denying any affiliation with Nazism, he reflects that same reactionary dictatorial style to the concept of the masses having a voice in their own fate. In 1981 Ratzinger was appointed by John Paul VI as the head of the Doctrine of Faith. As his pro George Bush Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club (yes there is such a thing www.ratzingerfanclub.com ) gleefully
states: “As 'Grand Inquisitor' for Mother Rome,
Ratzinger kept himself busy in service to the Truth:
correcting theological error, silencing dissenting
theologians and stomping down heresy wherever it may
rear its ugly head -- and, consequently, had received
somewhat of a notorious reputation among the liberal
media and 'enlightened' intelligentsia (ironically sic)
of pseudo-Catholic universities.” The truth seems
is only available to theologians and American
Ratzinger's criticism of modernity, atheism, other forms of Christianity (“deficient”) and other world religions demonstrates a fear and prejudice of things outside of his experience as inferior. This prejudice is made of fear of the unknown, the uncontrollable, like the human spirit.
Benedict’s view is to pluck out the offending eye, to
make the church smaller, more orthodox, exclusionary
and to fight the heretical ideas of free thought and
action. If he was an isolated anachronism in the
world that would be one thing, but he represents
another converging river of power concentrated on authoritarianism in the world.
George “silver spoon” Bush also suffers from the same
lack of perspective, only the attempt at intellectual discipline is missing. Seemingly a concrete thinker, Bush believes everything he says and believes in a simple right or wrong, black or white view of things. He sees himself as having a predetermined destiny to change history; a man to follow unquestioningly. His appeal is that he has such simple sounding answers for everything he appeals to average people who are scared of change in the world. Like Menken said, ”For every problem there is always a simple solution, and it is usually wrong." In a confusing, overwhelming world, simple seems good, and when you are scared so you cling on to simple. The reality is that he doesn’t have the intellectual ability or moral boundaries to prevent him from justifying to himself any action.
The reality is he seems to have the vacuousness of a
slightly dull fraternity brother that everyone puts up
with because he’s got a really nice car. The fault of
his enemies is that they “misunderestimate” him. The opposition doesn’t really think that he can be that stupid--that egocentric, that megalomaniacal. But they are wrong. His history would indicate that Bush is driven by the fear that he really is a failure, willing to do anything to avoid that prospect, driven to do anything to avoid that awful truth of his own incompetence. He is a very dangerous circumstance for the rest of us.
When all is said and done he is little more then a car
salesman doing the advertisement for the big car
companies. “Come on down, we’re practically giving
these cars away”. The real power brokers don’t have to
be elected. Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rumsfeld,
Kristoff, the other Neo-Cons driven by a view of world domination, that believes the rest of us need to be fooled for our own good. They have no problem lying straight to our faces. Propaganda is just a tool to them to be used without the complications of moral compunction. After all these people visualize a corporate world government (the WTO) dominated by a nuclear space weaponry and mercenary armies as their “white man’s burden”.
Their willing assistants are thousands of corporate
names that you have never heard. They are driven by
greed or the need to make the next quarterly profit
goals. Functionaries in a monstrous machine called
the corporation, that has no problem subverting
science, waging war, stripping resources, poisoning
land, air and water, exploiting slave labor,
destroying communities or anything else that stands in
the way of profit. With corporate control of the press informing the public is secondary to selling product and manipulating public opinion. You may say that not everyone in business is unethical. You may be right, but let one of these men falter in his mission and he will soon be replaced by someone who will push the machine’s drive for short term profit.
Joining these power hunters to repress free thought
is James Dobson, Randall Terry, Ralph Reed, Pat
Robertson and the other theocrats who are pursuing a
“Christian Nation”. They want to have the FCC police
public discussion to their acceptable subjects and information on birth control and abortion suppressed. They want to deny you a job based on not only your sexual
orientation but also your religion. They have many
allies in Congress, as illustrated by James Frist's appearance at their national
judge bashing event. These people believe that they
should have dominion over this country including its
laws, your thoughts and your actions. If you don’t
think they are dangerous, read to some of their
“State Universities are breeding grounds, quite
literally, for sexually transmitted diseases
(including HIV), homosexual behavior, unwanted
pregnancies, abortions, alcoholism, and drug abuse.”
-- James Dobson
"I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I
paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's
over until you're in a body bag.
You don't know until
-- Ralph Reed
"I hope to see the day when in our country we
won't have any public schools. The churches will have
taken them over and Christians will be running them.
What a happy day that will be!"
--Rev. Jerry Falwell
"Let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you
to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is
good.... If a Christian voted for Clinton, he sinned
against God. It's that simple.... Our goal is a
Christian Nation... we have a biblical duty, we are
called by God to conquer this country. We don't want
equal time. We don't want Pluralism. We want
theocracy. Theocracy means God rules. I've got a hot
flash. God rules."
"You say you're supposed to be nice to the
Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists
and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't
have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist. I can
love the people who hold false opinions but I don't
have to be nice to them" -- (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club,
January 14, 1991)
The goal of all of these groups is like Ratzinger, to
declare those who disagree with them as “heretical”
and marginalize their participation in society, even
if that means a majority of the people on the planet.
Most of these people, including George Bush, are
products of experience that told them that they could
always, bully or buy their way out of their mistakes,
except this time they can’t, and people like us are
going to go on the ride with them if we allow it. They all
live in constant fear that the masses will rise up and
take away their power and privilege, so they prey on
fear and hopelessness to gain more and more control.
This is the real axis of evil--the one who wants us to
return to "The Dark Ages" when
knowledge was suppressed, the lower classes excluded
from education except that chosen by and for the
hierarchy of the church, commerce was completely
controlled by feudal lords and their mercenaries.
They all want to limit your thinking, your discussion,
your thoughts and your actions.
But, don't worry--the dark ages only lasted about
Fear terrorism, outsourcing is good for America,
there is no global warming, government is the problem,
deficits don’t matter, don’t watch this, don’t read
this, turn your head from Darfur, ignore AIDs in
Africa, take Prozac, give your child Ritalin. Fill
that empty hole in your soul with cheap goods from
China you get at Wal-Mart and “reality” TV.
The candle of enlightenment is in danger of flickering
out, and the dark ages again loom large on the horizon.
Indeed human survival itself is in the balance. Time
is short. You think I exaggerate, I think not.
John M. Kelley is the host of the Progressive Forum
Radio Interview show at 9am cst at
www.texasradio947.com , has a blog at
www.mytown.ca/johnkelley/ and a web page at www.radiofreecorpus.com