Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bush's "Third Awakening"

Killing is wrong, and bad. There should be a new, stronger word for killing like badwrong or badong. YES, killing is badong. From this moment, I will stand for the opposite of killing, gnodab.
-Kung Pao: Enter the Fist

According to the Washington Post, President Bush sees a "Third Awakening" of religious devotion looming due to the struggle against terrorism. While I'm forced to agree that there has been a strong upsurge in religious expression since 9/11, I can't understand why this is. When Americans are attacked by religiously driven terrorists, to me, it would prompt an analysis of the damage religion can do and cause an introspective analysis of my own faith.

But it seems that Americans, instead of ever questioning themselves, paint things in a black and white dichotomy in which they can do no wrong and it must be the problem of everyone else. Which is precisely the position Bush has taken, "A lot of people in America see this as a confrontation between good and evil, including me."

Such absolutism in which one feels that one can do no wrong is one of the most dangerous things I can think of. It's akin to the driver of a car feeling invincible, taking their hands off the wheel and praying. It might work ok for a time, but eventually there will be a turn in the road. Is blind faith really going to take America around that corner?

6 comments:

Calli Arcale said...

I don't think that Americans are becoming more religious as a result of wanting to demonize the bad guys. I think it's more a case of lots of people wanting comfort after the rude awakening of 9/11. There's been a rise in spiritualism and faith, not just religion. Certainly, however, the religious "right" has used this as an opportunity to seize more power, and that may give the impression that Americans are driving towards absolutism -- because some of the most vocal of us are.

Bear in mind, however, that many of those who are seizing on this as a chance to stand on a soapbox (Bush included) were moral absolutists *before* 9/11. This has just given them a venue.

Stephen said...

In the old days, you told your story to the intellectual elite - the early adopters. They spread your message to the masses with lucidity and spin as needed.

Today, you put your message to the masses directly through one-way mass media. There's no give and take - no way to get your questions answered. So, the message has to be simple and right-sounding. It can be absolute nonsense. It just has to resonate with the most people. It seems that it doesn't have to make any sense under critical scrutiny. The intellectual elite, after all, is a small minority. What we're talking about is advertising effect per advertising dollar.

Hence, the appeals to absolute morality - comfort food for the soul. Like McD's, it is a nutritional vacuum. But people go to McD's anyway - not just those of below average eating habits.

But to call everyone mindless is a disservice too. It is true that half of all people have a below-average IQ. It's just harder to reach the other half.

Or is it? The Internet should be the cheap way to reach the upper half. The message still has to resonate.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but think about Bush's absolutism, and laugh. I my experience, there is no black or white, only shades of grey. He assumes that he is on the 'right' side, and because of his thinking he cannot even fathom that he may be on the 'wrong' side. A quote that sums my feelings on this subject:
"Only the Sith deal in absolutes"
-Obi-Wan Kinobi

Anonymous said...

The developments in the US politics are least said alarming since in the aftermath of the events of 9/11 religion has slithered its way in the mainstream politics. The biggest indicator to this claim is Bush telling the conservative journalists that he sees the unfolding of the current events as the 3rd awakening.

For a country like the US and including the rest of the western world this is path which alarmingly resonates particularly with the people who see this only as a struggle between the good and the bad.

With due regard to the history of the previous century one can see where such trends tend to lead a country that sees itself being the sole proprietor of good against the evil “others”. It does not take a lot for the religious or other fringe elements of the society to set a path for an entire country based on their “told you so” doctrine and lead the entire country into a corner where it becomes inevitable to take the path which can only lead to totalitarianism.

There is a lot of naiveté about how the US constitution is the enforcer of the democratic values and it somehow will prevail no matter how adverse the conditions. A constitution is nothing but a piece of paper; it is the will to uphold it that has made America what it is today.

Anonymous said...

The developments in the US politics are least said alarming since in the aftermath of the events of 9/11 religion has slithered its way in the mainstream politics. The biggest indicator to this claim is Bush telling the conservative journalists that he sees the unfolding of the current events as the 3rd awakening.

For a country like the US and including the rest of the western world this is path which alarmingly resonates particularly with the people who see this only as a struggle between the good and the bad.

With due regard to the history of the previous century one can see where such trends tend to lead a country that sees itself being the sole proprietor of good against the evil “others”. It does not take a lot for the religious or other fringe elements of the society to set a path for an entire country based on their “told you so” doctrine and lead the entire country into a corner where it becomes inevitable to take the path which can only lead to totalitarianism.

There is a lot of naiveté about how the US constitution is the enforcer of the democratic values and it somehow will prevail no matter how adverse the conditions. A constitution is nothing but a piece of paper; it is the will to uphold it that has made America what it is today.

Calli Arcale said...

I don't think that Americans are becoming more religious as a result of wanting to demonize the bad guys. I think it's more a case of lots of people wanting comfort after the rude awakening of 9/11. There's been a rise in spiritualism and faith, not just religion. Certainly, however, the religious "right" has used this as an opportunity to seize more power, and that may give the impression that Americans are driving towards absolutism -- because some of the most vocal of us are.

Bear in mind, however, that many of those who are seizing on this as a chance to stand on a soapbox (Bush included) were moral absolutists *before* 9/11. This has just given them a venue.