Matthew 6:24 is a prominent driver in my novel. It basically says you can’t serve both money and God. It doesn’t matter whether you’re agnostic or atheist. That’s not the point. To prove it, replace God with Mankind–or anything “good” in the same context that the idea of God is “good.” The rule from this verse in the bible still applies. What happens when we make money more important than God or people or anything “good” is that we literally place money before those other things. Which, in my view, is the core problem with this country. We’ve taken the idea of capitalism to the extremes. That’s why you have elected politicians who secretly take money from big insurance companies at the expense of people. It’s normal. It’s good business, in America. Because we’ve become a society that prioritizes personal wealth above, well, everything. It’s so fucked up I can’t even.
So yeah, this is a major lesson that Jim Christianson (the protagonist in Minor King), and Jim Mitchem (me), continues to learn. But the problem with learning it is awareness. Awareness changes how you see everything. And when you are absolutely embedded in this machinelike culture with no reference point to anything else, it makes you sick. And the ones playing “the game” “the best” keep you sick by telling you we’re the Greatest Nation on Earth. Or rather, we will be. Once the rich get every little fucking thing they want. And you know what? People will eat this narrative for breakfast. Why? Well dogma, of course, but also because we are bordered by oceans and even build walls against anything that might conflict with what we’ve known all our lives–that money leads to happiness. And the more you can get, the happier you’ll be. Which in itself is a lie. Money and happiness are mutually exclusive. Don’t believe the lies. Find something else to worship than money. Anything. Fuck capitalistic terrorism. It’s time we rise above it.
You must rise above the din of the machine,
or else transform into the bubbling black mass
that eats everyone
and serves nothing.
You must rise above to see things in a new way.
To recognize the traps,
and the truth.
Especially the truth.
2 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
Jun 19, 2017
There’s a powerful idea in Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene that I’ll probably get only half right: That our competitive nature is really embedded in our genes, which push that coding up into our animalistic behavior, and our charitable nature is also embedded, but to a lesser degree. This is why most of us chase greed and few of us give back.
The basic idea is our “genes” don’t think, but the genes that end up surviving will pass their traits onward. So a genetic sequence that makes men hyper-aggressive, which leads upward to their bodies killing animals to eat and other men to beat, in turn leads to them having sex and passing that genetic string along.
And the acquisition of money is our modern code for successful aggression.
Dawkins gives a funny example, saying for instance there are two “genetic strategies” related to marital fidelity that help genes survive. In strategy A, a male might be “faithful” and a female “coy”; in this relationship, the female makes the male go through a long courtship of perhaps several months or years, and once the male passes, he is inclined to stay loyal (because he doesn’t want to wait another few years to have sex with another female). This is a “giving” strategy, similar to charity or not just chasing money, and has the advantage that the male and female will stick together to help their offspring survive the perils of young babyhood.
Alas, Dawkins points to a second strategy, in which the male is a “philanderer” and the woman a “flirt.” As you’d guess, here, they just sleep around with everyone (similar to just chasing money). The genetic disadvantage is they may not stay together to protect the children, but the advantage is … they’ll have lots and lots of kids. (Remembers, genes are still surprised by birth control).
Dawkins models this out with math game theory and suggests that most men, and slightly the majority of women, go with the flirt/philandering strategy and not the faithful/coy strategy. It’s not morality that causes this, but the genes they inherited from their ancestors … who slept around and hand lots of kids with the same genes. Both strategies are equally “good” in passing along genes, but they reach a mathematical equilibrium when slightly more people cheat and slightly fewer are loyal.
The punchline is much of our human behavior is driven by animal instincts encoded by the genes within, that while they don’t think, simply pass along the traits most likely to make future genes succeed. The bad behavior genes still seem to win, because their aggressions and grabbings make them more likely to move forward in future generations.
Religion and philosophy are relatively recent inventions. The good news is, if these new, charitable skills prove more worthy of helping our future generations survive, eventually our gene pool will shift to more giving, loyal, self-actualization strategies.
But until then, we’ll keep chasing money.
Jun 19, 2017
Thanks for your comment, Ben. I’m always interested in hearing your feedback–which is based in science, logic, and academia. Mine, well, I have to admit I have no idea where my ideas originate. I never sit down to write things like this. But when I start exploring an idea, something else seems to take over. It’s maddening to think about, and articulate, its origin. So I just let it go. Let it take over. It almost aways feels good. Right.
But I can point to a time in my life when I was most happiest. Back when I was newly sober with nothing to lose by giving myself to the idea that there’s something greater than me in control of my life and all I had to do was look for doors to open. And trust that the doors would always appear. That strange and beautiful time was the basis for my spirituality. And, sure, that doesn’t mean my life is perfect. Or that I’m perfect. But after nearly 26 years of believing in (showing faith in) this power greater than myself, I can’t argue with the results so far. I’ve basically achieved everything I ever said I wanted out of life 27 years ago when I had nothing. It’s kind of a miracle. And it’s not because I’ve adhered to the “book of life” that we’re all given as the guide to happiness and a good life (good grades, good college, good job, good wife, good car, house, bankroll, etc. etc.). Hell, I didn’t graduate college until I was 30. Only, I exist day-to-day amidst people who never had my opportunity (to fail so hard that you have nothing to lose, to say nothing of hearing “the voice”) and all they know is this “book of life.” And from where I stand, this “book of life” tends to “reward” people who play by those rules best. Because they’re tangible. Real. It’s a tough go with one foot in a different place, and one foot here. It gets confusing. Faith is harder than it should be. And for some in society, it’s a sign of weakness.
But that’s the place where these seeds are planted in me. A sort of ether-land. And when I explore them, like in this post, I am usually surprised at what I find. No, there’s no logic to it. No science. Just experience and a willingness to see things slightly askew. As if from another plane.
Sometimes it feels like my purpose is to somehow create a bridge from one plane to the next. Not unlike how a copywriter creates a bridge from a complex idea to a consumer. It’s weird how things work out. Life is funny.