As a young child I ardently believed in Santa Claus. My older sister scoffed at my nonsense belief but I was undeterred. You see, I took my mother's warning to heart when she said, "When you stop believing in Santa Claus, Christmas won't be as special anymore." My mercenary little mind took that advice to mean that Christmas would become a season of socks and underwear. That like my father, I would receive a tie, a power drill and screwdriver sets.
So my belief became tied to the larger image of Christmas itself, despite the logical arguments of a fat man burned to death trying to get down our chimney, or the absurd notion of how you could park an overloaded sleigh on a step-pitched icy roof. Eventually, reality overcame fantasy and the will to believe. We want to believe it is something innate, something inside of us, a human fear, foible or failure. We attach ourselves to a belief be it divining the future from goat intestines, or Zeus, Jesus, Buddha or Rasputin.
I've been reading "Peeling the Onion" by the noted German/Polish author Gunter Grass. It is a memoir where, after a very successful literary career, it came to public attention that Grass had been a member of the Waffen SS. Grass explains honestly about how as a child and a young teen he believed the things that the Fuhrer was saying. The radio and the movie newsreels all assured him that the Fuhrer was correct. So patriotic was young Gunter that he tried to enlist in the U-boat service at age 15. A fat bureaucratic sergeant told him, "go home, they'll call you soon enough."
The author was appalled that here he was volunteering to serve and he got the brush off. What sort of military were they running that would employ such laconic characters? At 17, Grass was inducted into the military and trained as a Panzer gunner and, in early spring of 1945, was sent to a panzer unit that had only two obsolete panzers. They were sent into the forest to defend the Fatherland against the invading Russians. After the first barrage of Russian rockets, his makeshift Panzer unit was reduced to a handful of stragglers running for their lives.
Hiding under a personnel carrier as the rockets came down all around him, Grass lost control of his bladder and lost all belief in the Fuhrer and the party and the newsreels. This was reality and was about trying to stay alive in the face of impending death, and Grass came to grips with a higher truth. Politics is faith-based, and we are sometimes raised in it or sometimes energized by it but, as Mark Twain once said, "faith is believing in what you know ain't so." Sometimes it was once so and sometimes it never was so to begin with.
Take the tea party. Its members attach themselves superficially to the 1950's faux image of God and Country and a morality that never really existed. They wear funny hats and listen attentively to people who are obviously full of sh*t as they invoke Jesus, Mary and George Washington with a whimpering sniffle. Dick Armey and the rest of the puppet masters pulling the strings tell the faithful, "your taxes are too high!" And the faithful answer, "our taxes are too high!" They are told, "you support the troops because God wants you to," and they dutifully respond, "we support the troops because God wants us to!"
Most of the sane and the sensible among us can look through this fog of bobbles and bullsh*t and clearly see the puppet masters pulling the strings. Why is it then that we can't see them on our side of the fence? Obama's business tax credits are foisted upon us as some sort of stimulus package. I read a comment today where one of the faithful wrote, "I sure hope it works and the party of no doesn't stop him." Yeah, damn those Republicans they're always trying to stand in the way of tax cuts for big business!
The other day I was taken to task by the one of the faithful, "So you don't see any difference between the Republican's and Democrats?" I never said that. The Democrats are a punch in the nose and the Republican's are a kick in the nuts. But he continued with Stalinist zeal -- one Fuhrer, one Reich! "I believe in the Democratic masses and we're not going back!" he cried. I tried not to laugh but I failed miserably, because from its form and tone, it sounded so like he was in the Waffen SS and headed for Poland. I answered, "I'm not trying to make you go back. I'm trying to wake you up."