All right, so lately I’ve been thinking about the world and this whole terrorist, Islamist, Free speech, fundamentalist, blah blah blah mess that seems to be the defining conflict of the moment. It’s impossible to pretend that a real problem doesn’t exist because, after all, shit keeps blowing up. So I’ve been ruminating about that most interesting of questions… WHY?
None of the current explanations please me. Is it freedom lovers vs freedom haters? Not really, there seem to be plenty of freedom haters on both sides. Maybe East vs West? Nah, too simplistic. Is Islam itself at fault? Eh, probably not. I doubt it’s much worse than any other group that defines itself as ‘chosen’ or ‘blessed’ at everyone else’s expense. Perhaps it’s a giant conspiracy between the big banks, the ghost of Che, Exxon, the Bush family, and Bigfoot? Oh stop it. How about modern vs medieval thinking? This explanation intrigues me but ultimately it isn’t satisfying. The battle between old and new has been going on for as long as there have been humans and it rarely seems to get more violent than “Hey, you kids get off my lawn” or “Modern music sucks” (And yes, modern music really does suck. I’m old.) No, all of these are too small.
My instinct is that something deeper, more primal and biblical is going on. You know, Good vs Evil, Angels and Demons kind of shit. A true fight for human souls and psyches, and I don’t even believe in your run of the mill, holy book type God. Do I have any actual proof? Of course not. It just feels that way, and hell, my opinion’s just as valid as any of the meat puppets on TV or in the government. Besides, I’m far less constrained by their petty ‘reality’. So buckle up, bitches, the rest of this rant is likely to get kooky…
We human beings are dualistic creatures. Give us a bunch of almost anything and we start dividing and redividing them into categories. Sports teams, M&Ms, animal classifications, atoms, whatever. Once we have them separated than we immediately begin arguing over which group, that we ourselves created, is better. Henry Ford once said that the first car race took place five minutes after the second car was finished. I’m sure he was right.
Our favorite thing to divide is, of course, humans. Race, religion, skin color, place of birth, number of possessions, I could literally go on for pages. Nearly every human religion, philosophy, political system and thought is founded on of this kind of division. Even Buddhism and Taoism, two religions that seek to move back to a unity, quickly devolve into this vs that practices. To be dualistic is to be human. I guess it’s all part of our questionable charm.
In some ways this current crisis is so frustrating because we can’t quite get the divisions clear in our heads. Every time you pick a side you find that someone or something you loathe is on that side too and that doesn’t sit too well in our consciences. It would be very easy at this point to suggest that we all grow the fuck up and get past duality but let’s be realistic, that is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. And besides, that suggestion would just be preachy pompous bullshit and I much prefer useful pompous bullshit. So instead I’m going to provide you with a duality that will help you decide which side you’re on. That way you can root for the right team and blow up the correct stuff. It might even provide us with a clearer understanding, but let’s not get our hopes up too far. So here goes…
Joy. Joy is the dividing line. Do you believe in Joy? Is it important to you? Do you have any? Is it ever a fucking priority? Or does it scare you, give you the heebie-jeebies? Does it threaten your beloved misery and hate? Does your frail little ego, or belief system, quake in Joy’s presence? That’s what this battle is about. What side of Joy are you on?
Joy- noun- Great delight or pleasure caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. In my considerably less than humble opinion Joy is one of the main reasons we’re here. Joy transcends ego and can even hold judgment at bay. Those who find Joy also tend to find compassion and I don’t think that’s a fucking coincidence. Joy can heal both the body and spirit. It’s why we invented music and art. It’s why we make good food and distill grains into the nectar of whiskey. We know we’re going to die. We know that life is full of pain and loss. We know that on some level every damn thing we do is for naught, but we do it anyway. Why? Because we can balance all that shit out with a little craic, a good joke, a great guitar riff, or a rare steak followed by a cigar and a single malt. (Your Joy ingredients may vary.) Joy is our best weapon against despair and a lot of people fucking hate it.
Everyone is capable of Joy but much of the world chooses misery instead. Don’t ask me why. I’m sure they’re just as mystified by Joy as I am with their choices. Most religions preach misery. Misery is your ticket to heaven. Misery makes you one of the ‘Chosen People’. It shows the whole world just how holy and pious you are. Most politicians and political parties thrive on misery and it’s misbegotten children Fear, Righteousness and Outrage.
The miserable the world over share one really hideous trait: They want everyone else to be miserable too. What do Islamic terrorists, Christian fundamentalists, Fox News, both political parties, PETA, and the Just Say No campaign have in common? Misery. They can’t fucking stand the idea that you might be having a good time. Think about it. They all hate the same things. Sex, good food, inebriation, freedom of expression, creative beauty. And they always have some dumb ass reason. Does someone of the same sex make you smile and get horny? Well, God hates you. Do you like pretty girls? You sexist bastard, go feel guilt instead. Like to have a drink? You’ll probably end up as an alcoholic. Are you female and do you enjoy orgasms? Slut. Some 2000 year old book said so. Judge judge judge. Shame and guilt. Be miserable or we’ll kill you. Libertines like you belong in jail. We’re watching you.
Unfortunately that’s the strength of the miserable. They care about my Joy and view it as an enemy while I couldn’t give a shit if they choose to be glum all the time. That’s the base of this conflict. Because, see, in spite of it all JOY IS WINNING. Especially in the West. There’s more freedom, more love, and more compassion than any time in history. Sure, we’re just getting started, but we ARE FUCKING STARTED. Chris Rock recently joked that in spite of all the racist shit in the USA it’s still the best time ever to be of African descent in the West. It’s a million times better to be female or gay or just plain weird today than it was 50, 150 or 250 years ago. Our Western Society, as frustrating idiotic as it may seem, allows for more Joy than ever before in history. And the Lords of Misery can’t stand it. More laws, more bombs, more god, more ‘traditional values. They’re pulling out the all the big guns, and they’re still fucking losing.
There it is. This isn’t about East/West or Islam. It’s about Joy vs Misery, fun vs glum. Fundamentalist Christians are just as evil as Fundamentalist Moslems. Women in bags and women under NSA surveillance are both oppressed. Cartoons are subversive and funny whether being bombed by terrorists or hidden by a corporate media. Love of any kind is wonderful and legislating it in any way is cruel and stupid. Now take a good hard look at you life and see what side you’re on.
In one of my first blogs I posed the following question: If God appeared and put his face right up to yours and demanded that you be happy, could you do it? What if instead of sacrifice and worship God ordered you to practice Joy and Love for your fellow humans? What if, perish the thought, your God created pleasure for YOU to enjoy, and he was royally pissed that you were ignoring his gifts? You know it’s just as fucking likely as the other option. I have long believed that if Jesus, or Mohamed, appeared today their own followers would kill them as heretics. That’s because too damn many of them are on the wrong side of Joy.
If someone else’s pleasure is threatening to you or your ideas perhaps you’d better shut the fuck up about Islamic terrorists. You’re on their side. But you can change. Joy is the ultimate renewable resource. There’s always plenty for everybody. If you already live with Joy you might want to keep an eye on the news. The forces of misery are out there, and in here too. I can’t guarantee we’ll win, but at least you won’t be ashamed of the other people on your side. And we’ll have a good time in the battle! Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion my friends.