Saturday, August 12, 2006
Despicable human traits
OK, one more piece about how people stink, politics stinks even more, and religion stinks most of all, yet they all taught me about God, love, truth and other things I cherish. Then I’m going to try to be more positive. I think it was Daffy Duck who taught me the word “despicable” as he directed it at Bugs Bunny. Daffy was right. It doesn’t matter what a good guy Bugs was most of the time or what Daffy did to deserve being treated despicably. Yet Bugs could be despicable and never suffer the consequences. Who says TV is a waste?
Some environmentalists root against human beings, hoping that nature will someday reclaim the Earth and drive us back into a state where we can’t do so much damage. That’s always seemed doubtful to me. People are so adaptable. Nor do I generally feel that human beings are so despicable as to have me rooting against us in our conflicts with nature or some sci-fi challenge from outer space.
Yet we do have some despicable traits. I have triads for a lot of things, and for some time I expressed our evil as a triad: hatred, indifference and falseness, simply the opposites of love and truth. I’ve thought about this recently. There are at least two types of hatred that deserve special attention, so it’s time I change this to four. So now my take on what is despicable about human beings are these four things: judgment/scapegoats, oneupsmanship, falseness and indifference. I think indifference is actually the worst, so I put it last. Now what do I say? I started to explain these, maybe one each day, but it’s too ugly. You either already have your own examples or you’re a perpetrator of such evil, so I’ll skip almost all the explanation.
I do mention both judgment and scapegoats. The former is more intellectual and rationally defensible, even while being evil, while the later is more emotional and especially oversimplified, overgeneralized or both, such as dumping on liberal politics or liberal religion with whatever attack one pleases. There’s a fine line between dumping on some class of people as scapegoats and oneupsmanship. Hey it is all hate, after all. It’s just a matter of how much pride goes along with it as to its purpose.
That level of analysis depresses me, but I can always get to some question that intrigues the student in me. Do the politically and/or religiously conservative really not think that someone will judge their words and actions someday? Not God, not history, it never will matter? Maybe some people really do get caught up with being validated by the next election or just by one’s own peers that they never think about how vulnerable they are to judgment. What a wonderful shield traditional Christianity is to ever fearing God’s judgment. Of course there is that problem of whether God really promised not to hold one’s life against one who has orthodox beliefs or if that was just human beings promising this. Evangelicals never seem to worry about that, as if atheism is the only alternative to their faith. What if God is a liberal? I leave that for the enemies of liberalism to ignore. God tells me He understand the situation perfectly. He’s the one who told me they’re all dead men walking.
My interest has been what I should do about it. I don’t like fighting fire with fire, though I feel my nature going that way at times. I do like putting water on the fire by pointing out the truth as I see it, but that is such a limited amount of water for most fires. Most fires are blazing way beyond being controlled by facts.
Instead I do what anyone who has read what I’ve written here recently knows. I try to see this as human and move on, forgive that this makes the politics around me and religion around me such turmoil that I will not find a church in my lifetime that isn’t wrapped up either in fulfilling the conservative agenda or denying it, instead of focusing on whoever and whatever God is. God and I focus on that, but we both know no one cares. People are too busy with their own ideas, their own concerns. People only do what they know how to do. All shortcomings in our society stem from that.
I wish I could write a page that would describe the better way of following only God in words that people would believe, but I can’t say I know how to do that. I don’t even know enough about how to do that for God to help me do it. Since people only do what they know how to do, including me, that won’t get done. God says He could give a demonstration, but He has to get into someone’s mind enough to do that, and He can’t do that involuntarily.
I look on the net at those who want to end poverty. What a diffuse effort, some focusing on Africa, others focusing on attacking corporations and greed. I can’t say I cared about ending poverty until God brought me to care about that. Now I live to end poverty, not that I can do that much nor do I know how people in general can do that. It takes God to balance one’s life toward that end. So many are instead trying to do this themselves. Likewise for ending conflict.
Then there are the wise guys on the other side with their hatred, indifference, and falseness. Their evil is natural. Paul wrote that the enemy is not flesh and blood, but evil spirits (Ephesians 6: 12). I think he was wrong. The enemy isn’t the flesh and blood that has become a pawn of evil, but the evil is natural, not supernatural. Anyone can see the pattern eventually. People are so proud, all of us.
I know of one good solution, but people won’t take it. God says He would like to see people learn sooner rather than later that what they’re doing now isn’t working. He says all hatred burns out eventually. There’s no good alternative to waiting for that to happen, as ugly as it is to watch. The question is what to do while waiting. There’s more than one thing. There are private things and public things. As in twelve steps it’s important to be honest, open-minded and willing. Sometimes that’s contradictory, such as in being honest about why I am utterly closed to some idea, but it’s a guide. The real direction is in drawing close to God, learning to say that yes, evil is evil, but it won’t last forever, nor does it usually help to fight evil with evil.
People can be despicable. It’s in our nature. It’s also in our nature to reach beyond that. There is something there beyond our nature, something better. There is help and love. You’d think people would jump for those things, but so many think they know something even better, some fantastic simplicity and perfection that becomes the enemy of what is real, whether it’s New Age fantasy, the fantasy that there is no God or that traditional theology has it just right.
God is whoever and whatever God is. People don’t like that. The alternative is fantasy, and that can turn evil. Anyone can see this, maybe with taking a step back. It’s as obvious as the fact of evolution. You have to want to see everything, not just the parts you like. Then what? Then God can come live in you, and you can learn why that matters. It’s a lesson lost on so many people who think their words say it all. No words matter that much. Life matters, and it is a different life to give up the despicable qualities of our nature for what God can do, as crazy as that may seem along the way.