Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pope a Hypocrite: Hoards Gold and Condemns Greed

Today's case study in what is wrong with the world is drawn from this article:

The headline reads: "Pope urges young to spurn the 'spiritual desert' : He challenges crowd of 200,000 to help world turn away from materialism"

Aside from the many many philosophical problems I have with attacks on materialism, greed, and selfishness. And aside from the many many problems I have with those who promote altruism over rational egoism. Aside from these things, is there anything more hypocritical than the figurehead of the Catholic church berating people for enjoying personal comfort that they have at least done something to earn? Has anyone out there even seen the amount of gold that decks out the Vatican? If not, here's some pics:

If they're so earnest about sacrifice, why don't they lead by example and distribute church wealth to the needy rather than trying to make us feel guilty for spending the money that we earned with our labor? I mean, after all, who deserves their money more? Some guy who works his ass off every day of his life? Or some fat and indolent preacher-boy who's never done anything but sit in a high chair and rattle off how worthless people are? I'd bet on the worker over the preacher any day.

And, hell. While we're on the topic of greed and materialism anyway, why don't we look into this "spiritual desert" and see what's really going on there.

"In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair," the pope is quoted as saying. He blames this on greed and materialism and people turning away from faith. I would argue that this despair, this fear is spreading as a direct result of the faithful. And if not directly through religion than indirectly through secular altruism.

How can a person have self-esteem, if the more successful they are at their job (and therefore more successful monetarily)--How can they have self-esteem if the better they are, the more guilty they are supposed to feel? How come excellence and the demand of greater rewards for greater excellence is condemned as a sin? If someone is good, then, dammit, they deserve more. We NEED good teachers, we NEED good doctors, we NEED good engineers. But how do we expect to find people who can fulfill these needs? Should we expect them to appear magically and just perform these functions because that is their nature? Or do we have to assure that they have an equitable return on their efforts, so that they are self-motivated to perform these functions in society? Yet oddly enough, we turn around and condemn the people who are doing exactly what we are paying them to do, we condemn them for being TOO good.

Has anyone who has sat down and blindly condemned people for greed actually fully thought this through? As we progressively enact more laws, and the religious organizations gather more followers, and the secular humanists jump on the band wagon and berate rampant selfishness and the profit motive, has anyone noticed the corresponding erosion of the economy, rampant inflation and critical shortages of teachers, nurses, mathematicians, and engineers? Perhaps the faithful are hoping that they can merely pray and have God magically deliver the trained professionals who will keep the engine of global civilization running. Or perhaps they think that those who are capable of providing those services should do so simply for the sake of all those who can't, and should serve humbly, apologetically, and with head bowed in shame for the epic force of will and dedication of mind necessary to accomplish such feats of creation as has never been known to the leaders of the religious front.

What insights have popes or cardinals or imams given us as to the structure of the universe or the fate of humanity? None. Not a thing. All they have done is preached how near disaster we are, and how we should abandon reason, when reason is needed most. Can the pope build a railroad? Can he erect a building that will not fall? Can he conjure more food from the ground or purify our water? Can he answer the dual needs of protecting the environment while not stifling economic prosperity? Can he do any of these things? NO.

All the pope can do is pray, and berate and cajole and beg. And for what? Why is he doing all this needling? Is it for the good of humanity, as he would claim? Or is it so that he can take advantage of the poor, the ignorant, and the ashamed? He'll casually accept money from the poor, and claim that it is going to help those in need. As he wears gold crowns and lives in a gold bedecked palace. He'll gleefully accept the donations of the guilty rich who, ashamed of their own prowess, seek to assuage the moral conflict that rages inside them by hoping to buy their way into paradise. And the ignorant, the church will gratefully embrace the ignorant, because to embrace God requires no discipline of the mind, it requires no rigor of thought, no effort of will. All it takes is the effort of release, of everything.

If you release your mind, your body, your will, your judgment, your soul, your self-esteem, and your pride, then you will be beloved of god. If you destroy everything there is that makes you who you are, if you destroy anything and everything that makes life good and worth living, then you will be saved by god. God wants to destroy you. The religious want nothing less than the spiritual destruction of humanity. That is why the absolute sacrifice is the symbol of their faith. The absolute of death is sacrosanct in every major religion.

Death is the ideal. A noble death is a noble goal in every major religion. No religion abhors death and reveres life to the extent that they would say, "Live your life to the best of your ability and enjoy those fruits of that ability for they are the mark of your best nature." No, instead they claim that the very qualities that enable you to survive are the qualities that you must apologize for. They claim that the more able you are to live, the more guilty you should feel. That is because, in faith, we are all expected to want to die, but not being able to, should feel guilt for our life.

How perverted and despicable a promise to humankind! Such a miserable and filthy demand! To demand that all should die to fulfill the warped philosophy of the incompetent. To demand that the worthy apologize to the unworthy, that the able apologize endlessly to the inept.

Wouldn't it be a better world, if we all stood as equals--not in the sense of some guarantee--but in the sense of having equal rights to the fruits of our own labor? That we could stand shoulder to shoulder with giants and thank them for all that they have given us in the terms of an easier, safer, healthier life. We could thank them, and allow them the freedom to enjoy the fruits of that inestimable boon they have granted us. Without guilt. Without shame. Proud and radiant as human beings, all of us. Proud that we have done the work that we were best able to do, no matter what work that is. Proud of what we have attained, and created, and managed to preserve around us.

Would it matter if we all cannot be a Vanderbilt, or an Einstein, or even an Elvis? We do what we can. We build what we can. Does anyone have the right to begrudge another the results of their own work, whatever work that may be?

I say NO! I say ENOUGH! The time has come to stay this madness. Reject religion. Reject the secular altruists who preach freedom on one side, and berate the use of it on the other. Reject all those who would offer you a collar in exchange for your self-esteem. Do not be seduced by the prospect of harvesting the wealth of those you envy--for all that road promises is that you will be sacrificed to those who envy yours.

Defend your freedom. And do it not for the good of others. Do it not for the good of generations to come, or for the protracted and unseeable future. Do it for yourself! Do it for the now! Reject all forms of statism, nationalism, religion--all forms of spiritual and physical sacrifice. Claim your birthright, claim that which is yours, not because I say so, but because you earned it. Reject the claims of all those who savor the unearned, who would make you a slave and expect you to be grateful for it. Fight them, do what you can. Speak, blog, vote, protest. We cannot afford to surrender. To surrender is to embrace death.


Bill Bruno said...

The picture of the golden ceiling in the Vatican is a painting. Pope's clothing isn't made out of gold either (dunno about the scepter though).

If you want to defend greed, cool. Just hope you never find yourself in a position where you may have to rely on others.

American Anti-theist said...

Oh, sorry...of course the pope can't really be surrounded by gobs of in these pictures here:

I must've just selected the ones where he was wearing faux gold cause that's like all humble and stuff...

If I ever need to ask others for help it will not be with a sense of entitlement, it will be humbly and with the recognition that they are under no obligation to do so.

That is a different matter from seeking to do the best one can by oneself and one's loved-ones. Surrendering one's loved-ones to disaster is not selfish, nor greedy, it simply means you don't value those people that much. More than what it says about greed in general, is what is says about your values, which would be rather frail were you to be so cold.

Are you saying that the people closest to you aren't worth anything and that you would actually profit from letting people around you suffer? That sounds a lot more vicious than the idea of honoring one's values by choosing to protect them first and foremost for the very reason that they are valuable to you.

But the kind of blanket altruism proscribed by the pope and his ilk is the kind which says "be guilty for your wealth, for it is success which is a sin and the true good is to suffer for your fellow man."

I say revel in your wealth. Support those who are of value to you. Support them for their value to your life, not for their bare and naked need. If need is the only reason to support them, then they probably aren't worth supporting. I try to surround myself with friends with whom there is a mutual sense of respect and shared sense of value contributing to each other's lives. In such company I could never imagine not offering a helping hand where one is needed. But such kindness would be earned and I would not consider it a sacrifice. Likewise I would hope that my friends would feel the same. But like I said I would never hold them as obligated to support me in any way and definitely not at risk to their own well-being.

It is a poor man indeed who has no such people around them and whose only recourse is to demand sustenance by laying guilt upon the prosperity of others.