Let’s say you’re a religious person. You go to church every week. You believe it and you’ve made a commitment to it. You’re sitting in a pew and every week the pastor/priest/rabbi/reverend goes to a podium and tells you a story. Maybe it’s about Moses or Abraham or Jesus.
And you sit there and you nod your head and when the fellow with the basket comes by you toss a gift of appreciation into it and then head out to your car and sit there feeling all warm and rosy. You did your duty once again. You’re faithful, dependable, forthright, and content.
Then one day, your priest/rabbi/pastor/reverend/minister goes to the podium and announces that there will be refreshments. We’re all drinking Kool-Aid today, he says, and we will all be leaving to be up in Heaven together. Make sure you give some of this to your babies and your children before you partake in the wonderful experience yourself.
What do you do now?
You’d probably answer that you’d get up and leave and maybe turn your pastor/minister/rabbi/priest in to the authorities and hope they get a psych exam. But history says you’d drink the Kool-Aid. That’s what the people at Jonestown did, en masse, their bodies and their children’s and babies’ bodies strewn all over the compound.
Jim Jones met with journalists and told them that the rumors they’d heard were those promulgated by liars. Of course anyone who wished could leave and no action would be taken against them. The journalists, seemingly satisfied with this pronouncement returned to the airstrip to leave and were murdered by the rifles of Jones’ henchmen.
We are currently watching a Passion Play here in the United States. Just as the Hebrew Bible often reads like a list of things to not do for anyone with any moral sense at all, our current events appear to be a list of how to do things incorrectly over and over.
While some countries enjoy a modicum of security within their societies, there is a U.S. contingent who think that making war on the rest of the world and denying our citizens all health care and social programs that might keep them from total impoverishment is the right course of action. They’ve thought this for a very long time, as when F.D. Roosevelt attempted to institute sensible social programs and they fought him every step of the way. They’re still fighting, and the current bill that seems to have passed includes provisions to weaken Social Security and move toward its total abolishment.
What does it take to become one of those people?
The mirage of democratic form in the United States is still visible, but don’t let it fool you. Fascism is under the surface. We still vote, but for whom do we vote? Does it really matter? We vote for change and things don’t change. We vote to punish those who didn’t change and things get worse. The new bill will also increase taxes for those who make less than $20,000 per year – those who can least afford to pay them; those who are being squeezed by invisible inflation, further destroying the fragile remnants of our economy.
What does it take for elected officials to come to this? Every seeming change for the better in the Obama administration has been so watered-down that it can only destroy whatever vestiges are left of the middle class. We who might have benefited from health care have yet to see what damaging effects are going to be spread by what could have been the beginnings of a move toward compassionate care.
When the Nazis cleared out the gas chambers and used heavy equipment to move bodies of innocent people like cordwood, what did it take for a person to participate in that wholesale mass murder? How did they differ from you, dear reader? What distinguishes you from history’s killers? How are you so different from anyone in any group who fears that if they don’t go along they too will suffer the consequences of the victims?
The gunman who threatened the city council meeting in Florida this week may give you some hope. One man on the council told the villain that he would have been the one who signed the order to fire the man’s wife, and please let all the others go. Greater love than this no man hath.
What does it take?