Thursday, December 27, 2012

Faith, Force and Freedom

Looking back over 2012, it's been one of my leaner blogging years. Not because nothing was happening worth mentioning - quite the contrary - but because I saw little point in addressing people who just didn't care to listen.

When ideology or prejudice trump reality in the minds of men, discussing reality with them becomes an exercise in pointless frustration. Thinking stops, and everything becomes a conditioned response. The campaign for Emperor demonstrated this on a daily basis. So did the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook elementary. Before the victims were even buried, the usual suspects began with the usual arguments: ban guns, register the mentally ill, whatever. Control, control, control, it's always about control.

Part of that is the corruption of reasoning I did write about. Another part of it is solipsism. In America especially, countless people live their lives entirely obsessed with themselves, to the point where other people simply aren't real to them. They are like NPCs in a video game. And since one doesn't empathize with NPCs, having zero empathy for other people has become the norm. When these NPCs are seen as obstacles to one's happiness - the paramount purpose of life robbed of all other meaning - the next step is actively hating those other people, and finding ways of hurting them. The pathology has a scale, of course: from forum trolling, via committing suicide by jumping in front of a train at rush hour, to picking up a rifle and shooting up a mall, school or movie theater.

That is not to say that video games are to blame. Quite the opposite. Games offer an escape from a reality that has long since become virtual. Remember the Bushians' disdain for the "reality-based community"? The notion that they were creating reality by the sheer force of their willpower, while the pesky realists were merely observing and analyzing it? Well, they aren't the only ones to believe it, just arrogant enough to admit it openly.

Modern omnipotent government has made treating people as things into an art form. Look at the militarized police, or the callous disregard for the lives of people in invaded - oops, liberated - countries. Look at the drones and their pilots. Being a sociopath is almost a recommendation for the job.

If we're looking at a "culture of" anything to blame for the rotten mess we're living in, it's got to be this culture of narcissism, as Brendan O'Neill describes it. Guns? Serbia has the second-highest concentration of guns per capita, after the U.S., but there are no rampage murders there. The Orthodox Church, which is most definitely not concerned with an individual's feelings, might have something to do with it as well.

Of course, the Serbs have gone to the other extreme, refusing to use their weapons even for legitimate self-defense. 

Yet I've been unable to put into words the conclusion that simply leaps out from all this, for several days now. Until I saw this article. So I'll borrow Daniel Greenfield's turn of phrase, and say that what both the Serbs and the Americans need to learn is that "when you give up faith to force, then you also abandon any further reason to resist that force. Without faith, it is easier to let force win."


Anonymous said...

You wrote that you blogged little in the past year, because you "saw little point in addressing people who just didn't care to listen."

Other possible reasons to blog:

- To leave a record of your views, and of your take on events. The Serbian point-of-view is not very common in English. (Let alone, of course, that every person has their own point of view. But by being Serbian, you've heard some stories, and some sides of stories, that others may not often hear.)

- To respond to news, instead of just consume it. It can be refreshing to do so.

- To give heart to other like-minded lurkers, who may have less time than you to study and write.

Gray Falcon said...

All valid points. Thank you.