Some of this will not be new to you, but in light of the continuing debate it still needs to be said. Religion is a cause of more evil than good and historically and factually has been utilised by evil men and women to achieve warped aims.
Everywhere and anywhere our lives are dictated by rules and laws. From the pettiness of how and where to discard a cigarette (£75 fine) to those supposedly set in stone by God, we are constantly told what to do and how to do it.
The late author and journalist Christopher Hitchens suggested that when Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai there didn’t seem to be too much to argue with. Anti-murder, anti-theft, anti-slander and anti-greed all seem pretty reasonable to most people and probably elicited a simple shrug from those in Moses’s orbit at the time, along with a ” Yeah and…?” because common sense had almost certainly already told them that these actions were wrong. Similarly the stuff about honouring your mother and father seems fairly sensible, although I have met plenty of parents who deserve a good kicking rather than honour, but that is beside the point. The acolytes of Moses may well have raised an eyebrow at Moses demand for total and utter subjugation to the big guy but these were superstitious times and so they went along with it. The aforementioned Hitchens argues very well on religion as he does most subjects, but less so on Iraq, more of which later.
You may have guessed from this opening gambit that I am not a God -fearing man, but neither am I a Satanic maniac. I generally live my life to the letter of what I consider to be common sense law; try not to hurt anyone, try to be sensible and just get on with things. But increasingly I am finding that I am contravening laws with regularity, simply because I tend to live my life on the basis of that common sense.
When I sat down at my computer this morning, I wrote the simple sub-title of this piece as a reminder of the subject I wanted to write about. I then pottered; coffee, toast, cigarette. Twenty minutes later, with the sub-title still sitting there in abject solitude, my dog was disturbed by the postman. Among the usual junk that seems to get posted on a daily basis was a letter from the City Council. “This can’t be good news” I thought, and sure enough it detailed an Alleged Bus Lane Contravention in the city centre. I very rarely go into town (probably about three times a year) and so realised that the contravention took place when I was dropping my son off to meet his friends at a restaurant. I had been trying to find a way on to a main road but since I was last in that area the road layout had changed. I found myself somewhere familiar but the usual route I would have taken seemed to be closed off. As most drivers in this situation would, I panicked slightly and took a turn that I thought might lead to my destination. It did. I returned later to pick my son up and thought nothing more of it, until now. My contravention was quite evidently extremely dangerous and was almost certain to cause a hazard to other drivers and maybe potentially the death of innocents. I am being facetious of course.
As you can see, my car is in splendid isolation causing no issues with other traffic or pedestrians. I conducted a little research and discovered that the bus lane was opened in March 2016 which suggests I had not been in that area since before then, and so was unaware that this particular stretch of road had been turned into the City Council’s latest cash cow. A local lawyer managed to gain access to how much money the Council makes from bus lane fines through the Freedom Of Information Act. This what he discovered;
Bus lane fines charged by the City Council
- 2014/15: £2,101,556
- 2013/14: £2,175,632
- 2012/13: £1,414,998
- 2011/12; £1,009,266
- 2010/11: £854,969.
I paid a £30 fine. It is strange that these laws are nearly always punishable by fines, don’t you think? Surely a more appropriate sanction would be to attend an educational course on the position of bus lanes in the city and why it is important to keep them clear. If we use the 2014/15 figures and my £30 payment, this means that around 70,000 motorists in one UK city alone made the same mistake as I. This suggests two possibilities. Either 70,000 of the cities’ motorists show utter contempt for the law, or there is an issue with signposting, which is of course down to the council. Needless to say, the Council would be reluctant to do anything about it when it is raking in so much money as a result of this stupid law. I could appeal but what would be the point? This incident might seem unrelated to the main title but it is indicative of what I was going to write about.
God issued laws to Moses from Mount Sinai, the UK Government issues them from the Houses of Parliament. In modern society we are constantly being bombarded with new rules, new decisions and new regulations purportedly aimed at ‘protecting’ us and making our lives ‘better’. If the more controversial of these laws ever get questioned they can always stick it on God/ the Christian thing to do. Every Prime Minister that I can recall has on their Ministerial duty professed that they are a devout Christian. There have been plenty of those in opposition who weren’t, and there was the anomaly of coalition man Nick Clegg, but Nick Clegg was not the main decision maker, in fact, I’m not sure what he was. Even the Jewish Prime Minister Disraeli was a practicing Anglican. For some, I believe this professed worship of a non-existent force is a badge of convenience, because if those in power can make a decision and refer to the big man’s will and Christian values, a sizable slice of the UK brought up on tales of seas parting and water becoming wine will automatically believe it must therefore be right, wholesome and true. When government policies are causing misery among the poorer sections of of our communities, God is always there to listen them and some poor saps will pray to him or her for a solution, despite thousands of years of evidence that he doesn’t give a flying fuck about them. If people couldn’t pray and gain comfort from religion what would happen? Well, perhaps they might understand the real cause of their suffering is man made, and has nothing to do with a mythical being and everything to do with big business and government. As a result the masses might just decide to question the authority forced down upon them. So it is naturally in the interest of power to maintain the illusion of God.
We might also ask why the National Anthem of England is “God Save the Queen”? Given her vast wealth and the expected lifespan of members of the royal family, it would appear she is the last person in need of God’s intervention when there are over a million people in this country using food banks. Perhaps God should be saving the innocent civilians who have been slaughtered during an illegal crusade perpetrated by God-botherers, and carried out by soldiers who have all sworn an oath asking for his or her help in serving Her Obscenely Privileged Majesty. Or is this further evidence that people believe in someone/something that couldn’t care less about them? Of course it is, because he/she does not exist.
In the atheist USSR, presided over by one of history’s most vicious and evil dictators (who incidentally had once trained to be a priest), religion was outwardly banned save for some relaxation during the Second World War. It wasn’t really banned though, it was replaced. Russia has since recovered and is still a highly religious society. On a visit to Sergiyev Posad (aka Zagorsk) I witnessed humble working class Russians in raptures, openly wailing and weeping over the grave of a dead saint in much the same way they used to hysterically laud ‘Uncle Joe’. Stalin was acutely aware that he could subsume the massive sway of power that God held over the people and ‘replace’ Christianity as the State religion with something else that allowed him carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. Crucially he needed to build some form of deity that he could refer to in times of trouble, one that would act as a mythical supporter for even the most heinous of his crimes. His choice was the leader of the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov, or Lenin as he is more commonly known (a code-name name taken from the River Lena, fact fans). Stalin, (meaning ‘man of steel’ (that was an understatement) – real name Joseph Vissarionovich) was instrumental in defying the late leader’s desire not to be remembered through statues and memorials, as he was in the construction of the Red Square Mausoleum and placing the embalmed body of Lenin therein. Meanwhile he ordered that the graves of Russian Orthodox/Christian saints be dug up and exposed as the jumble of bones that they now were. The obvious conclusion for the Russian population being that, unlike the saints they had worshiped for centuries, Lenin had not decayed and was therefore God-like and supportive of every one of Stalin’s decisions.
Once the supposed Communist experiment had fallen apart, religion was immediately encouraged as signaled by the rebuilding of the Cathedral of Christ The Saviour in Moscow which had been destroyed by the Communists. Incidentally, in it’s place Khrushchev had the Moskva Pool built, the world’s largest outdoor swimming pool, where locals going for a dip would tell others that they were “going to hell”.
In the ‘civilised’ Western world that we continue to blindly believe that we belong to, Western politicians continue to utilise the same mythic being that the Tsarist regime had worshipped, and that Gorbachev/Yeltsin helped restore, which is of course the Christian God. So, for instance, when a case was being made for war in Iraq, both George Bush and Tony Blair suggested that God had told them to invade. Yes, that’s right, the same God that Muslims worship. I wonder what he/she might have been telling the Iraqi people? According to Nabil Shaath, who at the time was the Palestinian foreign minister, Bush had claimed, not unlike Jake and Elwood from the movie The Blues Brothers, only less eloquently;
“I am driven with a mission from God’. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.”
Meanwhile John Burton, an ally of Tony Blair for 24 years, has suggested that;
“Tony’s Christian faith is part of him, down to his cotton socks. He believed strongly at the time, that intervention in Kosovo, Sierra Leone – Iraq too – was all part of the Christian battle; good should triumph over evil, making lives better.”
The American academic, psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Thomas Szasz summed up this state of mind in the following manner;
“If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.”
So these two schizophrenics; both hearing voices in their head, pressed their bloody palms together at Crawford in Texas in April 2002, and prayed over the decision to go to war. Bush was ‘born again’ at forty years old, whilst Blair obviously found the Anglican church far too liberal and eventually converted in 2007 to the deviant and crime ridden religion that is Catholicism. I suppose that now he was a war criminal he was seeking similar company, and there’s plenty to choose from.
The two of them brought havoc, anarchy and death to hundreds of thousands in Iraq, but it was all apparently God’s will, so that’s O.K. then. Tony Blair’s continual claims of innocence are no doubt founded on this piece of lunacy.
Samuel Johnson famously suggested that;
Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”.
I think he got it wrong. Religion is.
The aforementioned Christopher Hitchens has strangely, given the justifications from Blair and Bush, argued that the Iraq war was justified in that it brought an end to Saddam Hussein’s barbarity which, in a recent documentary entitled The Hitch was illustrated with images of Saddam, cold eyed, sitting smoking a cigar whilst enjoying the spectacle of the selection of traitors to be executed.
The documentary then refers to the case of Mark Daily, an American who joined up to fight partly in response to one of Hitchens’s articles. Daily was unfortunately killed which caused Hitchens some soul-searching but he did gain a modicum of comfort from Daily’s family. Hitchens voice can then be heard over a still photograph of Daily, also smoking a cigar, suggesting that he “doesn’t look like an occupier at all”.
On the contrary, I think he looks exactly how I would imagine an occupier to look like, especially given the culture of celebrating momentous events with a cigar. Yet the Iraq conflict has left nothing to celebrate. Daily was an unwitting victim of the Iraq War in that he was persuaded, not only through Hitchens writing, but also by the powerful US propaganda machine that was demanding the removal of Saddam (an illegal war aim in itself) whilst claiming the war was legal and a force for good, which has been shown to be utter folly. The Iraq War was simply a crusade which, like the Crusades of the 11th and 15th Centuries included looting, but this time of liquid gold, oil. The coalition forces’ mythical aim of freeing the Iraqi people most certainly was not realised and Hitchens among others failed to foresee the rise of ISIS/ISIL/IS which is a by-product of that illegal incursion.
Different societies develop at different speeds and as such enlightenment arrives at different times for different regions. It is a process of time and it is not possible to force those societies that are somewhat arrogantly presumed to be lagging behind our own supreme and righteous development (ahem), to ‘miss out steps’ on their way. Britain’s crimes are well documented and factual events such as the genocide of Native Americans and the slave trade both killed far more people than Saddam ever did. Both ended once they had served their usefulness and as a result of people pressure. It should be up to the citizens of a sovereign state to arrive at their own hopefully enlightened destiny, and at their own speed, however ugly and vicious the process is. At this juncture some with a different viewpoint might choose to mention the Nazis and World War Two. Well, the Nazis also used God to justify wickedness as evidenced when Hitler proclaimed during a 1936 Reichstag speech;
“I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”
The Nazis were also a threat to world peace. Saddam wasn’t. Saddam wanted to build weapons of mass destruction (we were famously lied to and told he already had them). Well wouldn’t you if every day other nations with access to that very murderous capability were threatening your country?
Meanwhile back in the real world these people who claim to believe they are doing God’s work on earth for him/her (if their version of God did exist it seems he/she would be a quite nasty piece of work doesn’t it?) continue to harangue us with laws that really should be choices rather than obligations. For instance, another ‘crime’ I am sad to say I have been a party to involves the seat belt laws. I would always ensure my children wore them because that is common sense. However, I believe I should have a choice. An example would be that whilst at school, a teacher of mine was absent for some months having been involved in a car crash. He was acting ‘criminally’ by not wearing his belt, but had he worn it he would not be alive today. He collided with a bus which toppled and crushed the roof on the drivers side, through to, and beyond the seat. The teacher had the foresight to leap over to the passenger seat and, saving for some rather serious injuries, he was alive to tell us the reason for his absence. Given the choice I wouldn’t wear one, but we don’t have that choice. Similarly the ‘crime’ of speeding. If a driver is on a stretch of straight motorway road with nothing ahead or behind, why is there a need for his speed to be restricted? It is refreshing to see in Canada that you may turn right on a red light as long as you have come to a complete stop and waited until the way is clear. You can also turn left on a red light if you are moving from a one-way road onto a one-way road, but again you must come to a complete stop first and wait until the way is clear. How refreshing is that? Common sense incorporated into law. Why do we surrender to the law makers who believe they know better than us? Our lives should be just that; ours, and government’s role in them minimal.
God’s Big Mistake
One of the most ludicrous man made laws relates to marijuana and it is the one area where the God squad find themselves in something of a pickle. If we suspend reality for a short while and imagine that there is some sort of God-like figure caring over us (but not intervening where evil occurs of course) , his care includes providing us with marijuana, a plant (again, reality suspended) he or she positioned on the planet simply to help with our health and give us something other than ruinous alcohol to have a good time on. Governments around the world then banned it.
So God made a mistake?
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest grounds for marijuana’s prohibition, especially not when compared to the effects of other legal and lucrative drugs. In 2014 (the latest figures I can find, although it is likely to be similar since) there were 8,697 deaths in the UK caused by alcohol, a drug that the Government makes a fortune from. Likewise tobacco, which causes an estimated 96,000 deaths a year in the UK, also serves as a Government cash cow. Yes, there are government initiatives aimed at prevention, but if they were so concerned surely they would advocate a total ban as they do with regard to marijuana. On being asked for information via The Freedom of Information Act regarding the number of deaths marijuana has caused in the UK, the Office of National Statistics directs you to this site;
which fails to answer the question, because there is no reference to marijuana. So in answer to the question “how many deaths has marijuana caused in the UK according to the Office of National Statistics, we must assume the answer is none.
That said, there was a tragic case in the UK which was reported as a marijuana death, but medical evidence and reputable scientists have brought one doctor’s theory into question. Certainly it would have meant the unfortunate victim would have been the first person anywhere ever to die from the plant.
So Governments across the globe ban marijuana outright (surely some form of age restriction would be more appropriate) yet unlike alcohol and tobacco, marijuana can help heal a number of illnesses and/or at least make them bearable. Does our Government not want us to get better or ease our suffering? It would seem not.
As people, we all have Cartesian common sense, some more than others, and this should, and on the whole does, prevail, from the largest issues to the smallest in society. We don’t need a man in the sky to tell us, and we certainly don’t need telling by some privileged and be-suited type who thinks making bullying, ill researched and distasteful comments about the opposition leader in the House of Commons whilst discussing the crisis of homelessness in the UK is in some way humourous, never mind where her predecessor chose to place his genitalia, allegedly. One only has to witness the infantile behaviour of that House to question just how far removed from enlightenment we still are.
Holocaust survivor Primo Levi’s view was not changed by his experiences at Auschwitz. His view was that if God existed and he allowed the Holocaust to happen then he is evil. If on the other hand he was unable to prevent it, then he is not God. Seems a logical summary to me, and the ‘free will’ argument that is used to defend religion is as fanciful as the over-arching belief. Of his experience at Auschwitz he wrote;
“I too entered the Lager as a nonbeliever, and as a nonbeliever I was liberated and have lived to this day.”
In most employment we are monitored and assessed on results and achievements. So if we take a look God’s record for ‘caring’, that is after all what we are told he is all about, it doesn’t really make for good reading. Mutilation, murder, genocide and famine all presided over by the greedy, criminal and immoral who claim to have been put there to control his affairs and carry out his work.
Religion is simply a man made construct aimed at justifying the power that the few have over the masses.
When the people of the world realise this fact, and that common sense is enough, then I think we can truly call ourselves enlightened.