It can be depressing when one is surrounded by morons

The first time life felt truly hopeless for me was in 1990. I’d been forced by circumstances to serve in the apartheid South African army for a year.

I didn’t know what I wanted to study, so I ended up there by default. I was young (18) and naïve enough to buy their bullshit from the apartheid propaganda machine. They told us that refusing to serve, which would have resulted in more than a year of some other kind of community service, would put a black mark against our names, and we’d never be able to get work. In reality of course, those who refused to serve got nothing but respect. But I went there not knowing any better.

dumbasses

It was in the army that I realized this indisputable fact: Most people are stupid. Suddenly in a strange place, I found myself surrounded by thousands of idiots. I remember there was a son of a New Apostolic minister in our barracks – he was friendly and charming and would lead an evening prayer as well as come up with these impromptu sermons… besides the usual feel-good Christian crap, there was rhetoric used to justify the racist Group Areas Act because “we must keep the cultures separate” or something. His hatred for people of colour was badly hidden behind his Christian “love” in a style not dissimilar to American preacher Steven Anderson’s hatred for gay people. Funny how such homophobic views are always held by men who only seem to think of gay men, huh? Almost like it’s self hatred of someone in the closet… But I digress.

Most people just went along with the racist rhetoric there. Idiots. All of them. Then I recall one day sitting in a mess hall, with a army chaplain sitting just opposite me at the table. The bullshit coming out of his mouth was so bland, so dull, I kept dozing off. And some twit kept waking me up. It was terribly annoying.

I’d taken a Bible to the army with me, because someone had told me it was “good to read”. I opened it up to the book of James, and to be honest I don’t think I even made it three pages in before throwing that in the trash. It was then that I realized that even though the racist bastardized version of Christianity bore no resemblance to the real thing (much like current US evangelical Christianity), that didn’t matter, because the religion itself was a bunch of bullshit too. Bullshit everybody around me believed in, because they were idiots. They reminded me of ants, walking in lines like all the other ants, brainless drones just going about their business because that’s what drones do.

Once, after they fucked me around and I missed my flight to go on an eight day pass because they forced me to mow the lawn, I had to enter the office of a sergeant major to get my papers signed. (It was a shared office with the camp’s captain and some other arseholes sitting on the other end. All of them were there.) Their ranks meant nothing to me as I saw permanent force army people as escapists who couldn’t handle the real world. I just walked in casually, and went about my business. Then this idiot corporal started shouting at me, like some character from a movie where they shout in your face that you are worthless and so on, simply because I wasn’t standing at attention. I think I was supposed to be afraid or something. Caught between anger and holding back laughter, I almost spoke my mind. I almost told him that… “No, I am not nothing. I am the only one who matters here, and a year from now I will not remember your names. You exist only to remind me that idiots are everywhere, and I’m sorry but I can not fear a white trash man-child shouting nonsense in my ear. Also I have a headache.” I pictured saying it, knowing that all they could do was make me run around with a sandbag, and maybe do a few hundred pushups and sit-ups. Honestly, in those days, a bit of physical pain was something I enjoyed. I pictured it, but didn’t do it. Instead, after turning to stare at him for an ecstatic five seconds or so that made him shout even louder, I stamped my feet together in an over-exaggerated parody of the style I’d been taught, did a robotic about turn in the wrong direction, and marched out of that office like a storm trooper, holding back the laughter until I was out of earshot.

It was oddly on that eight day pass that I went to the church of my youth and told the priest I no longer believed in god. I was hoping he might say something to convince me otherwise, but he didn’t even try.

In a way, it was good to be an addict for a while. I found someone who I thought was a soulmate in Megan. Someone to get high with me, and drop out of the line of ants. Someone to laugh at the stupid human drones with me. Someone to say “fuck the world” with me and mean it. Because it is miserable being surrounded always by idiots. Sometimes I still feel that way, that nihilism is the only answer. And nihilism can be greatly enjoyable when one is high. The meth served its purpose for a time.

But somewhere along the lines, I changed. I read those stupid Facebook statuses asking what you would do if you could go back to the past and change something. And I realize, even if I could, I would not. I love the children we brought into the world, and would not risk changing anything that might lead to a different present where they aren’t here. I am no longer that person who thinks that only I matter, but instead find joy in seeing the world through their innocent eyes.

That’s why I am so glad that Josh’s sister is back. She wouldn’t exist were it not for Megan’s infidelity, but I am glad she cheated on me. I’m glad because I love Aishah as much as my own son. I regret nothing. And the world isn’t such a bad place after all. I work with some very smart people, and am glad to know them, glad to be a part of their team. Most people are still idiots though, and I have my days, or sometimes months of feelings of hopelessness. But right now, life is good.

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Smoke Meth & Hail Satan?

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of references to this shirt online…

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I think it’s quite funny, so I share it myself when I see it, but maybe it’s worth mentioning that this isn’t supposed to be taken literally, just like Satanism itself. It’s a message about nihilism.

But it did get me thinking about Satanism, especially after a friend shared an image with me about coexistence. This one (cropped because it was mostly black):

CoExistCropped

Well, how would you feel about coexisting with Satanists?

It’s an important question, because it raises the issue of what Satanism actually is – something that religious people often don’t realize. Satanism is not the belief in or the worship of a literal Satan. It’s not about devil-worship. Satanists are atheists, like me, and Satanism itself is a parody of religion. Their version of the Ten Commandments contains all the important moral lessons left out of the Christian one, such as rules about consent (don’t rape), not having slaves, not treating women like property, and so on.

In fact, nobody in history has ever worshipped the devil. If you believe in the Bible, then you believe that backing Satan would be to back the losing team. So if you believe in Satan, there is no way in hell that you would worship Satan. It makes zero fucking sense.

However, if Satanism is recognized as a religion, which it is, and your constitution allows freedom of religion… and a bunch of Christians hand out leaflets to proselytize their religion in a school, then all other religions, including Satanists, have equal rights to hand out their own. And what do you think is going to happen then? Christians don’t really want to coexist – they don’t want to allow Satanists to hand out leaflets. (I shouldn’t generalize. My apologies. But there have been many well publicized cases, especially in the US, where Christians clearly only believe in freedom of religion when it pertains to their religion. So you’re free to practice your religion as long as it is Christianity. Any recognition of other religions or even their religious holidays is perceived by these people as an attack on Christianity. Think of the nonsense around their Starbuck’s cups controversy, or their opposition to the phrase “Happy Holidays”, or the persecution complex behind movies like God’s Not Dead.) In my hypothetical example of leaflets being handed out, to oppose Satanists doing likewise, Christians will simply stop doing so themselves, and introduce rules banning others from doing so (1), and that is the objective of “Satanist” activists – secularism, the separation of church and state.

Which gets me wondering about the underlying sentiment in a message that asks for coexistence… If the message is sincere, then I’m all for it. Of course we all have the right to believe whatever we want, to practice our religions, or not practice any religion, and not be persecuted for whatever our choices may be. However, if the message really means “leave me alone and let me continue imposing my religion on others”, then fuck that. Nobody has the right to impose their religion or the rules of their religion on other people. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion.

Personally, I don’t like hiding secularism behind a veneer of Satanism. I think it’s counterproductive. Many religious people tend to see things as this simple binary: “You either worship my god, or you follow my devil.” Every other religion, and anyone who doesn’t see things their way, is automatically a Satanist in their view. So calling yourself a Satanist, in my opinion, serves only to encourage their false dichotomy.

(1) The other issue I have with this, by pushing equality of Satanism to force Christians’ hands, is that it often results in Christians, who are in control, from imposing rules to prevent any religion from doing what they want. So while it stops them from proselytizing at schools or having their invocations in public meetings, it doesn’t really take religion out of the equation – it just forces them to prevent what they see as another “evil” religion from having a fair chance. While it achieves its objective in the short term, it allows them to delude themselves into claiming some sort of moral victory, and also further perpetuates the idea that Satanists are evil, and to those who realize that Satanists are really atheists, that atheism is also an ideology (which it is not).