Monday, September 2, 2013

The God of Institutions

For thousands of years man has justified violence and atrocities against fellow man in the name of God.  The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the forced conversion of native Americans with the motto "kill the savage.  save the man" are prime examples.  Even Hitler used the name of God as justification for creating a "pure" race as he sought to not only eliminate Jews but also disabled persons, homosexuals and just about anyone that did not fit as Arian. 
In order to carry out these atrocities, all involved had to harden their hearts.  Sadly, history tells us that it is not too difficult to harden the hearts of humans by repeating the same rhetoric over and over again.  If we can be convinced of some greater good, usually through fear, we will  overlook the horrible outcomes of following the line of rhetoric.  The fear usually revolves around "the others" posing some threat against us.  The fear is then often followed with a self righteous dose of doing whatever is done for the good of the person targeted.  "Kill the savage.  Save the man."
In reality, it's all about power and control.  Many go along with the actions simply for self preservation and nearly always the goal is institutional preservation.  The tribal instinct sets in and an institutional allegiance prevails.  There is no greater source of institutional allegiance than convincing the masses, the institution has direct authority from God.  Once that allegiance is secured, the masses no longer seek reason.  They harden their hearts to anything that is not in line with the institution they love.  They will also believe even the most irrational rhetoric without questioning its authenticity.
At some point the institutional rhetoric grows so irrational that external and internal forces begin to push back.  This is when the true spirt of 
God begins to speak to the masses.  If you struggle to know which is correct - listen carefully.  Look for heart.  Look for love.  Listen and watch for compassion.  A true prophet has no need for lies.  All that he or she says will be true.  The fruits of their labor will not be destruction.
Watching the remembrances of the civil rights marches a half century ago, I was reminded that the violence against peaceful protests convinced a nation that the institutional position was wrong.  The tireless efforts of thousands of freedom workers, began to speak to the spirit of the masses and changed the course of this nation.  We began to realize that justification for inequality was based on lies.
We need to constantly question and challenge the positions of our institutions. Just as we need to constantly question and challenge ourselves spiritually, we need to grow the spirit of human kind.  Our institutions reflect a collective understanding of the world.    If we do not challenge ourselves, we stagnate.  Our institutions will not grow if we do not work to grow our collective understanding.  That requires an open heart and an open mind.
Educate yourself.  Listen for lies wherever they may be derived.  Protect your heart from hardening.  
While I have great hope and a deep belief that universal truth will prevail, I'm disheartened most by political and religious leaders who spout lies to support their positions.  I'm disheartened because I know that masses of people are too easily deceived and too easily willing to follow without question.  The evidence is that these people have been elevated to positions of power and control.
Evangelist Pat Robertson, beloved by many, recently told a whopper story about HIV positive gay men supposedly wearing secret rings intended to mix blood with unsuspecting people that shake their hands.  To their credit, the Christian Broadcasting Network vetted the information and removed his comments from the posted broadcast but he and others are likely repeating this madness as evidence of the dangers of homosexuals.
A Catholic Bishop recently stated that children of homosexual couples are more prone to suicide.  Again, no basis in fact.
A Republican politician recently stated that rape kits clean a woman out so there is no risk of pregnancy.  Totally false.
When the argument turns to lies as justification of inequality, I know which side of the argument I need to be standing.  This is a sign that groups are cloistering and feeding on themselves to pursue their goal.  Our spirits do not grow in that kind of environment.  Universal truth is Universal.  If it is void of truth - void of love - void of compassion - void of understanding - the source is not God.

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