[Previously on The Sad State Of The Greek Orthodox Church: How will these people react should one of them get in power, or access to a large audience? What then? Manchurian candidates of the religious kind? And then we wonder why Trump got elected, why Brexit happened, and why the world is marching to the tunes of resurgent populism. Jesus Christ! Had the anointed son of God been born today, he would have been tossed in the ditch by the very people claiming to worship him.]
And I haven’t even begun to touch on what they do to apostates, unbelievers and non-conformists in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, and Chechnya. What they do to atheists and critical thinkers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey. What they do to them in Afghanistan, Russia, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, and the backwaters of Florida.
What they do to them in the small towns of Appalachia, and in the wilderness of Brazil, and in Uganda, and in good old Hungary and Uzbekistan, and in China and North Korea.
What they do to them wherever there are regimes and dogmas operating on the premise of absolute authority, demanding that no one criticizes them or the way they do things. No casting doubt on the authorities or straying from the path. The way to go is preordained, set in stone, so that you don’t have to be, set in stone to make an example for others to avoid. Fail to conform and you are done. We’re talking the kind of places where, to each their own, the impulse to beat the shit out of someone before even hearing him or her out is strong and prevalent, maintaining order by the power of the rod, the blade, the dungeon, the kiss of terror; by the will of death and destruction, eternal damnation, or vicious and airtight injunction. By the annihilation, marginalization, displacement, or general persecution and ridicule of whoever challenges the ruling supremacy.
How’s that for a sobering critique of the state of dictatorship, tyranny and religious dogma in today’s world?
I know, I’m being unfair to certain setups by comparing them to some pretty unsavory places. They’re not the same, all the places mentioned above; on the contrary, some of them provide extensive liberties. Or so they claim. It depends what your poison is. Everyone is doing right by their god and moral compass.
Some offer freedom of movement and speech. Freedom to associate with other people, freedom of information and enterprise. Freedom of religion, which they sometimes double down on by trying to enforce the divine on the atheists, just because they can.
Others provide extensive rewards for the soul and spirit of men and women, or so they insist, even as they curb and restrain every human interaction. It’s for the good of their people, they say, all done with the ultimate reward in mind. It all depends on how you see things, what you consider normal, what you’re willing to subscribe to, and abide by, and submit to, and suffer for.
What is beyond doubt is that everyone stands by their system, more or less. Until they don’t. But that’s another story.
Like I said, to each their own, these setups and locations, these cultures, though in terms of dealing with critical thinkers and skeptics in general, it’s pretty much a shit deal in all of the above. The issue of oppression is a matter of degree — how foul things can turn in such environments.
The truth is, I’m not being fair to my friend. He’s getting a raw deal here, being mentioned alongside some of the planet’s worst tyrannies. I just equated him with jihadists and crusaders and communists and postcommunists, with fascists and neo-Nazis and all kinds of face-stomping, mind-imprisoning thugs and the systems they thrive in, where their views are accepted and institutionalized, all the people who oppress and persecute those who disagree with them in the name of some high and noble cause — scumbags and fanatics who use religion and politics to crush others into submission; who would destroy any human being for having challenged the absolute authority of their supreme Lord. My friend is not like that. He’s a kind, caring human being, a loving dad, a doting husband, an incredibly sensitive person given to occasional emotional outburst, that’s all.
Not that this is an excuse for what he said to me, or what he does when he goes off the bend. Many a crazy motherfuckers were loving dads and doting husbands, good people with a flare for the righteous, so to speak, prone to the odd outburst, all of it good, wholesome, coming from a good place, a noble position, acting in everyone’s best interests etc etc.
Part 8 to follow