December 12 – Volume 13, #12
“The Devil’s Biggest Trick”
“And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways,” Yossarian continued, hurtling on over her objection. “There’s nothing so mysterious about it. He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of God you people talk about – a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomenon as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?”……….“What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, little ugly mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering. It’s obvious He never met a payroll. Why, no self-respecting businessman would hire a bungler like Him as even a shipping clerk.” –Catch 22 by Joseph Heller-
While I personally felt that President Barack Obama had done enough in the previous four years to earn a second term, it would not have been at all unreasonable to suggest otherwise if his opponent wasn’t Mitt Romney.
In spite of arduous efforts by the commander and chief, the economy has not improved as much as it needed to and several other campaign promises were left unfulfilled.
Practically speaking, presidents get both too much blame and too much credit for the overall state of the nation. The decisions of local politicians on the municipal and state level impact everyday citizens far more than what happens in Washington. And there are literally thousands of variables that impact the state of the economy at any given time in spite of naïve pleas for the president to wave his magic wand and create jobs and higher wages from thin air.
Still, Harry Truman was spot on. The harsh reality is that the buck stops with the leader in any group, whether it be a government, a football team, a family or Illanoyze Incorporated. It is the leader who often gets most of the praise and most of the blame for the overall well-being of the group.
While the direct role that Barack Obama’s decisions play in the everyday experiences of the average American is limited, nearly 71 percent of Americans believe that their God plays a direct role in the fate of their pathetic and pitiful lives. One in three believe that it is altogether pointless to plan their lives at all because God is at the wheel.
If God is at the wheel of this miserable planet he has all the appearances of being a drunk driver.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. How blasphemous. I’m going to hell and all that.
But look around. Look with all three eyes. By most any honest and objective measure, this sorry ass planet is spiraling out of control in just about every way imaginable. 925 million of God’s children will go hungry tonight. 2.5 million will die from preventable diseases like tetanus, pneumonia and measles. There are genocides ongoing in the Sudan, the Congo and Afghanistan. Those who are responsible for protecting children have instead allowed them to be subjected to Pedophilia. And we have all just lived through the hottest recorded year on the planet.
Not even a leader as detached as George W. Bush (who says that he took his cues directly from God by the way) would have the gall to request a 2nd term if he had to come before the people to defend this shoddy record. Yet in spite of this performance, no leader of men is given praise like God is whether he goes by the name Jesus, Allah, Elohim, Ja, Jehovah, Gitche Manitou, Waheguru or Osanobua.
We hold our flawed, imperfect, sinful leaders among us to often unrealistically high standards. And yet this God of ours is frequently absolved most any responsibility for the state of this ball of confusion that we all call home.
Shit. I’d say that Barack Obama is running for the wrong office. Instead of being president, he should try and run for ruler of the universe. The most high. The all-seeing. What other leadership role known to man allows the ruler to get jocked so heavily, while scapegoating any organizational shortcomings onto Lucifer; a useful foil, for over 2,000 years?
What a convenient job this God of ours has, he gets all the credit for the world’s wonders. The rainbows, baby laughs, the romance, hip-hop, Chipotle, Kerry Washington’s lips. But he gets none of the responsibility for trans fat, for Jerry Sandusky, for Hitler, for heartbreak, for the 2009 tsunami, for Derrick Rose’s torn ACL or the constant misery that Haitians have had to endure for over 200 years.
“Where is God on days like this?” I thought to myself in some deep, dark, private corner of my mind on January 12 of 2010 as I watched Haitians pull their loved ones from rubble after another act of God had befallen the wretched of the earth. I know that the cycle of life has its role and purpose, so none of us is above enduring our share of hardship. And most will be given every opportunity for this test no matter our station in life. But it seems downright unjust that a nation like Haiti can never seem to catch a break. A tragedy like that which ultimately took 230,000 lives is horrible no matter where it happens. But to be sure, there are many nations that are better able to sustain such a disaster. If there was one country that could ill afford such a calamity, it was Haiti, the poorest county in the Western hemisphere. Haiti is one of the world’s poorest countries period, due in no small part to the international embargo spearheaded by America during much its first decades of existence after becoming the only nation to launch a successful slave revolt that resulted in full independence. Throughout the 20th century the nation’s resources were pillaged by both foreign and domestic leadership, leaving the majority of Haiti’s people to live in squalor that most of us could scantly imagine. And in spite of this hellish history, there are few nations that are more religiously devout than Haiti. This unbreakable faith is all the more amazing because it wouldn’t be at all unreasonable for Haitians to feel that God had forgotten about them.
Living in this land of plenty there is much that is to admire about the faith of the Haitians. Much to admire in the faith of the most destitute across the world who often sing God’s praises the loudest and most consistently. In Haiti, in the Sudan, in Syria there seems to be little wavering in regards to God’s divine grace. I’m not at all proud to admit that there have been more than a few moments in recent years where I wondered if God had forgotten about me.
I am a wildly imperfect man, but I try my best to walk on a righteous path. And I have done my best to try and do God’s work here on this dirty, nasty planet. And yet as blessed as I have truly been in my life, I have selfishly felt at times that God has placed unnecessary burdens in my way towards receiving my blessings. I know life ain’t no crystal stair. There are going to be some bumps and bruises. There is no way to live for even a short time and escape this fact. For many, the scar tissue leaves irreparable damage that seems to erode any potential for Godly good.
But it seems unfair that things have to be so damn hard for so many all the time. Especially for those of us who work hardest to serve the most high.
Such divine inequalities are especially difficult to take when you’re in the belly of a beast with a bottomless stomach that devours all that it can. While people are starving in Haiti tonight, (while people are starving in Chicago tonight) here in America, nearly unrivaled levels of debauchery and unrighteous behavior and thoughts are allowed to guide the day. The people who work most earnestly to undermine righteous law seem to enjoy the greatest worldly benefits, while the meek are told to patiently await their awards in heaven. That shit gets kinda lame after a few hundred years or so. Honestly, is the earth going to even be worth a damn once the meek finally inherit it?
Frequently the constant misery that is daily life for so many is explained away by saying that God is trying to teach us a lesson. Other times the rationale is that the lord moves in mysterious ways that aren’t meant for us to comprehend. And another group will contend that the ill that strikes us in this life is the result of stepping outside of God’s bounds. I don’t proclaim to know the ways of the lord. While I am a God-fearing man myself, I am open to the possibility that God is merely something we made up to psychologically soothe ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen far too many wonderful and miraculous things in this cold world to dismiss the notion of a higher power. Though I long ago stopped believing in religious ritual and fable, I still very much believe in God. But I can’t front, I’ve been wondering if dude is worth all the hype. Moreover, I wondered how a benevolent God could allow such evil and evil doers to reign.
I am far from the first person to express such heretical doubts about God’s good will. Throughout history, doubters like myself have been shouted down by the mob or told that the ways of the lord are far beyond our pea-brain comprehension.
The latter point is not one that I am prepared to contest. I don’t know whether or not there’s heaven for a gangsta, or if there’s a heaven period. I will leave that to the creator. But I feel more and more that cultivating pockets of heaven here on this planet is going to be more dependent on what I do than what any mystical man in the sky does.
After all, most of the hell in my life wasn’t the work of any man in the ground, it was the work of the man in the mirror. Far too often in my life I have created my own personal hells. That certainly has been the case with this most recent vintage. And the dimensions of hell that I have been careful to evade on my own, I find more and more that my fellow man does all he can to lead me to them. In getting a read on the spirit of the people these days, I have a feeling I’m not alone in these experiences. I will continue to pray that God grants me the strength and the patience of 10,000 Haitians as I sojourn through life’s struggles. But as I roll in the years, it seems clear that finding peace in this world is going to require acts of men rather than acts of God. God has done his part and then some. More of us have to do ours.
And no I don’t accept that we have to wait until we die to have peace. That’s some slave-nigga bullshit of the highest order. And if you believe that, you’re a slave, make no mistake about it. I don’t say this as a dis, I say this because I love you.
The constant peace that’s mythologized in biblical heaven will never be a part of this world no matter what man does. Things will never be perfect here on planet earth. But there is no reason that we have to be subjected to so much hell here either. Man has doled out unthinkable levels of evil and mean-spiritedness during our 200,000 years occupying this planet, but mankind has contributed to a lot of good as well. Good that has made our world a better place than it was even 100 years ago, to say nothing of 1000 or 100,000 years.
Man has played a hand in ending plagues that have killed millions. Man has improved sanitation conditions that have helped to extend life expectancy in the west by over 40 years in less than a century. Man has found ways to literally float on air, to restore life through surgery and give it to others with the advent of organ transplants. Man has allowed us to have the power to see through flesh in the form of x-rays. Man has created buildings that stand up stronger against hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes. Man has saved millions of lives by developing technology that lets us know when hurricanes and tornadoes are coming and how powerful they are. Perhaps you believe –as do I- that these feats were inspired by God’s will. This is another point that I am not intelligent enough to contest. My aim is not to take credit away from God, but only to suggest that the divine spirit that allowed God-inspired men to do great things is still there inside of us. We don’t have to be like the devils that so many of us have become.
I think there is a God, but unlike most religious folks I don’t claim to know for sure. There are few things that any of us know for sure. What I do know is that if there is a God, there are probably few times in recorded history that rival the globe-wide madness that the creator has to oversee presently. So God has his hands full.
In these times it is necessary for more of us to lean on the god (small g) that exists inside of each and every one of us. We are God’s children after all, so we possess many Godly attributes in spite of some of our best efforts to conceal them.
For a human race that teeters perilously on the brink of extinction, it is vitally important that we are clear on those things that are the bastion of providence, and those that we have control of.
Too often in this world, up to this very moment, man has tried to play God in believing he can control and plan for everything. We most certainly cannot. And a higher power reminds us of this every time that we try. But this should not be confused with an inability to control nothing. We can’t eliminate the hell that is spawned from natural disasters, from natural death and just plain bad luck. But there are many ills that we could eradicate from this world tomorrow if we had the collective will.
It is not God that is causing people to starve tonight in a world where millions of Americans throw away leftover food daily. It isn’t God that is at the heart of the black-on-black crime that is taking place on the South Side of Chicago at this very moment. It wasn’t God that made a group of political fanatics run a plane into a building on 9/11.
The devil’s biggest trick wasn’t convincing the world that he didn’t exist, it was convincing the people that God did not reside in the souls and spirits of each and every one of us. This notion should not inspire the kind of vanity that it is encapsulated by the belief that some are blessed and highly favored. The favor that God shows us should inspire us to get to work. Work that is best spent making better the lives of those poor souls that God may not have gotten to yet. People that feel like the Haitian orphans who lost their parents to an act of God in 2010. People that felt like I did a couple of years ago before my guardian angels rescued me from my self-created hell.
Peace and God bless,