In Karen Armstrong's book, The Battle for God, she writes, "Fundamentalists and secularists seem to be 'trapped in an escalating spiral of hostility and recrimination." In case you haven't noticed this is the third world war that we all await in fearful hopelessness. Fretting about the nuclear codes getting into the hands of an orange man with a bad comb-over. The battles are being fought already. Actually, they are more like massacres than battles. Whether they are killings of innocents with AR 15 assault rifles or Hellfire missiles launched from drones, they are equally devastating. But make no mistake, these are the skirmishes that demarcate the front lines.
On one side we have strict obeisance to a petulant God pacing around Heaven, worried about what those creatures on an insignificant planet in the suburbs of minor galaxy are doing with their genitalia. On the other, the eventual outcome of Martin Luther's commodification of religion. The trend that eventually eroded the moral center of society and left us with the spiritual void we call secularism.
Both are lies! Points on a spectrum of falsehoods. Neither better nor worse than the other. Each devoid of integrity. Each poisonous when swallowed whole. Each the antidote to the other if and when we might convince ourselves they are fractured pieces of a healthy whole.
"It's easy to lose sight of your objective to drain the swamp when you're up to your ass in alligators." And we have more alligators that anyone can imagine, let alone count.
We fail to see that we've lost the objective while we fight about whether "guns kill people" or "people kill people." Whether drones create more terrorists when we kill their leaders. We fail the see that we all victims of this war. Even the perpetrators who pull the triggers or fly the drones are victims.
There are moments of clarity. Kathleen Taylor, a neurologist, suggests that "we will soon be able to treat religious fundamentalism and other forms of ideological beliefs potentially harmful to society as a form of mental illness." David Loy, a Buddhist, writes "the basic problem they share (fundamentalism and secularism) -- and that we share with them -- is the threat posed by the ideology that pretends not to be an ideology"secularism pretends to be the everyday world we live in"once superstitious beliefs are removed."
In the meantime, the dehumanization and diminishment intensifies. "f*ggots deserve to die." "Fundamentalists are inhuman monsters." And those who want to deny the reality of this war, have no place rest. We are bombarded by twenty-four-hour coverage of every horrible atrocity committed in the name of one god or the other. The angry god of fundamentalism whose bidding is done by the act of killing LGBT's. Or the angry god of secularism who guides the Hellfire missiles into weddings and nods approval that the killing of innocents is justified as unavoidable collateral damage in this holy struggle.
We are as surely in a war as we would be if a foreign enemy were to attack Washington, D.C. The difference being the lack of clarity of a well-defined enemy.
W.B. Yeats gave a clue to our dilemma:
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood dimm'd tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Lost in the haze of this war, the "best" can't find a firm place hold for conviction to form. The "worst" stand on a passionate intensity fueled by the gods on their respective sides.
Loy goes on to write, "the liberal myth that humanity is progressing to an ever more enlightened and tolerant state looks as fantastic as any other millennial myth." In this fog of unconsciousness, the unawakened stir to awareness momentarily. The current president, his face drawn with despair, makes his umpteenth plea during his time in office - sanity, please, sanity. His countenance gives away his inner sense of impotence -- nothing will change. More will be sacrificed to this worst of all wars.
Although he doesn't admit it, he has assessed it pretty well. The war rages on. Want evidence? Read the news, watch cable TV, listen to the radio. There will be many more films at eleven. Stayed tuned.
Robert De Filippis