WHAT WOULD A DEMON DO? (revisited)

7 02 2015

This is a revised version of one of a commentary from one of my very first radio shows.  I think it’s worth revisiting.

Let’s engage in a little freewheeling fantasy, folks.

Let’s look at the world today and ask,demonWhat would a demon do?

A demon, in Western religious tradition, is a servant of Satan. It’s a demon’s job to make hell unpleasant for the rest of its inhabitants, to tempt us mere mortals into sin, or to afflict us once we’ve fallen. And how, in this day and age, might a demon afflict thee? Let me count some of the ways:

Demons can make sure souls are trapped in unhappy situations—for example, a life in which your mother didn’t want to have you in the first place and lacks the motivation, support, and resources to bring you up happily. Hell for you, hell for her.

Or, you could be born to parents who wanted you, but who find their own lives disrupted and crushed by vast forces beyond their control—drought, flood, war, disease, overpopulation, famine, marauding oil companies—you know, the classic horsemen of the apocalypse. A refugee camp in Africa for your kindergarten? Hell for just about everyone. Read the rest of this entry »


12 03 2010

First, a little “I told you so.”  In August of 2008, I wrote the following words:

the Repugs probably are not going to steal this election, because they would rather let the Dims be the ones to fumble around and make idiots of themselves trying to clean up the mess that eight years of out-front pillage has made of the country. It’s much easier to criticize than it is to govern, after all…I should know that!

A great many of my liberal friends are totally thrilled that a dark-skinned man with the middle name of Hussein is going to be our next President. But I think the “Hope Honeymoon” will be over mighty fast, and the next four years will be no love feast for Barack Obama or the Democrat party. While I agree that he will be a better President than John McCain, I think we are in for a long series of increasingly bitter disappointments.  Let me tell you some of what I see coming down the road.

First of all, there is the misperception that Barack is a populist candidate.  He makes every effort to portray himself that way.  His demeanor and delivery are disarming and informal.  He does not come across like a stereotypical politician, but when you read the fine print you discover that he acts like one.

He is getting the bulk of his support from Wall Street.  It is good that the banking gang has recognized that the Bush Junta is not acting in their best interests, but the fact that they have settled on Obama means that he is unlikely to do the things he should to reign in big money’s influence on this country.  Obama has already signaled his willingness to play along with the bankers by his support of the so-called “Class Action Fairness Act of 2005,” which severely limits the ability of private citizens, or even States, to sue corporations.  The NAACP,  the ACLU, and the National Organization for Women, as well as fourteen state attorneys-general, all pleaded with Congress not to pass this Republican-sponsored legislation, but Obama spoke out for it….

Well, the only part of  my prediction I would disagree with at this point is the speculation that Obama is a better President than McCain would have been.  It looks to me like the Repugs are so out of touch with reality that if they had taken the reins of power, we would be a lot further off the rails by now, and further into creating whatever is going to come next….yes, I know it would be draconian and tragic, but think of it as the political equivalent of ripping a band-aid  off a hairy leg….do you want to go slow and agonize over the pulling of each and every individual hair, or just feel all the pain at once and yelp and get it over with?

And, certainly, the Repugs are totally stark raving batbleep crazy.  The fact that so many people have fallen for the ludicrous charge that Obama’s healthcare plan, which proposes to bail out the for-profit insurance business to the tune of  sixty billion dollars, is “socialist”  is a symptom of serious malaise in the body politic. Obama’s proposal is basically the same plan Republican Mitt Romney instituted in Massachusetts, although Mitt drank the kool-aid and claimed in his Presidential campaign that making everybody buy private insurance was ““European-style socialized medicine.”  Tell it to the Europeans!

Can you say “lacking integrity,” boys and girls?

The Romney/Obama plan does nothing to lower the exploitive rates charged by insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, or doctors who think their M.D. is a license to become a millionaire.  It ain’t “socialism,”  it’s a feed trough for capitalist pigs! but I digress….

I am simply amazed at how many people in this country are ignorant enough to label a corporate shill like Obama “socialist,” not to mention that many of these same people believe climate change and peak oil are fabrications for the purpose of introducing “one world government,” and are obsessing over whether Obama is really an American citizen and whether his mother was married when he was born and what they will do when he orders in UN troops in black helicopters, instead  of seeking real solutions to the very real problems we face.  If just a few people were babbling about these fantasies,  they would be considered insane.  Unfortunately, there are millions of people who share these paranoid delusions, and they are a serious political movement. This fog of unreal and groundless accusations completely distracts these people from identifying the true sources of misery and oppression in their lives, whether that’s our corporate overlords or the demons in their own heads.

Yes, the demons in their own heads.   I know, this is a political rap, what am I doing talking about demons, for cryin’ out loud?

OK, demons, in this case, means neuroses, misperceptions, faulty programming like, “if you can’t control yourself, control someone else,” “the most emotional person in the room gets to run the meeting,” and other axioms of psychological power play.  Does that make sense to you?

We like to pretend that we are polite and civilized and ruled by our intellects, but for most of us, that is a sham.  When the pressure is on, as it is now, all that outer husk stuff blows away in the blink of an eye, and all too many of our fellow citizens revert to their inner two-year old, screaming bloody murder and falling flailing to the floor because Mommy won’t give them titty, or their favorite toy, or because it’s nap time and they’re fixated on what they’re doing but too tired to keep doing it happily.  It’s no way to run a country, but it’s what we’ve got to work with.

In spite of the fact that, at least as recently as November of 2008, a sizeable majority of Americans knew that the Repugs are the problem, not the solution, the Dims have been dim enough to discourage a lot of their former supporters, who now seem amnesic enough to return the Repugs to power, in which case they will screw things up even more.  Here and there, where an election is local enough so that face-to-face contact can win out over media barrages, the Green Party will make some inroads, but neither we nor anybody else with sense and solutions is likely to come to power in this country.

It’s sad and poignant.  We are not only poised at the close of the American Empire, we are poised at the decline of human civilization as we have always known it.  We will never again be this wealthy and this powerful.  We are about to run out of cheap oil and the weather is about to go nuts, but nearly everybody is partying like the good times are going to go on forever.  They’re not.  The last two hundred years have been a deluded dream.  We are about to be rudely awakened, and will have one mighty hangover when we come to our senses.

music:  Greg Brown, Worrisome Years


17 07 2005

Let’s engage in a little freewheeling fantasy, folks:

What would a demon do?

A demon, in Western religious tradition, is a servant of Satan It’s a demon’s job to make hell unpleasant for the rest of its inhabitants. And how might a demon torture thee? Let me count some of the ways:

Demons can make sure souls are trapped in unhappy situations—for example, a life in which your mother didn’t want to have you in the first place and lacks the motivation, support, and resources to bring you up happily. Hell for you, hell for her.

Or a life born to parents who wanted you, but who find their own lives disrupted and crushed by vast forces beyond their control—drought, flood, war, disease, overpopulation, famine, marauding oil companies—you know, the classic horsemen of the apocalypse. A refugee camp in Africa for your kindergarten? Hell for everyone.

Or something subtler—a life in the American underclasses as reshaped by the skinflints who have controlled our government for the last 25 years—Bill Clinton was the best Republican president this country’s had since Teddy Roosevelt–a life devoid of intellectual stimulation, emotional support, psychological understanding, nutritional intelligence, material comfort, and challenging opportunity, a life filled with distraction, exploitation, denial, dead-end jobs and constant glimpses of inaccessible luxuries enjoyed by the rich and famous. That’s America for a lot of people—and that’s hell.

These are all things demons could or would do to make life miserable for people—and the sad thing is, most of the people trapped in those hells would have no idea they were in hell.

Another thing demons can do to torment souls is to keep them from dying. For example, suppose someone were blind and unable to speak or move, suppose they needed a feeding tube to eat and were unable to respond to, or possibly even notice, any kind of outside stimulus whatsoever. Suppose that person’s brain had decayed to half its normal size?

Whatever shred of consciousness such a person might have left would perceive itself as being in a dark, soundless room, unable to move, for a period of time that would seem infinite, for they would have no way to mark time. Doesn’t that sound like the kind of torture someone would encounter in hell?

Wouldn’t the compassionate, loving, Christian thing to do be to let that poor, trapped soul die and go to heaven? Doesn’t it seem demonic to force such a person to stay for years in the dark room of what is left of her mind? Sounds worse than Abu Ghairab to me!

Of course, to be a demon, you need to be inconsistent, so while you are sparing no expense to keep people alive, you must at the same time make it harder for people who are consciously and intentionally clinging to life to do so—by limiting how much financial assistance you give them, and making it harder for them to declare bankruptcy.

Another thing a demon would do to make life hell for people is be unforgiving. If you’re a young girl and you get pregnant, you’re going to have that baby. If you’re a young person whose learning curve happens to include petty theft, overt expressions of anger, wild driving, or the indiscreet enjoyment of sex or the wrong drugs, the demons would make sure that your youthful deeds follow you and cripple your opportunities for the rest of your life.

But—inconsistency rules! Demons let other demons get away with all kinds of behavior, especially if they are corporate demons. Did you ever notice that for-profit corporations are demons? They are legally considered “persons” but their basic, declared purpose is profit—that is, the “soul” of a for-profit corporation is essentially selfish. That’s quite different from how you and I are set up, isn’t it? I believe that my basic purpose is to bring about greater peace, love and understanding, and I believe that generosity is a far better impulse to exercise than selfishness. I’d guess you think pretty much the same way. You can’t write generosity into the charter of a for-profit corporation. But I digress.

Another thing a demon would do is demean the creation. Cut down the forests, pave the plains, pollute the air and water and be sure to spread shame and distortion around that extraordinary Divine creation, the human body. You know, it’s only flesh and blood and electricity, and it blooms and decays in the blink of an eye, but there really is nothing else like it in the Universe, as far as we can tell so far. We seem to be the only, almost infinitely tiny, piece of this entire, vast cosmos that knows that the whole show is here.

I have respect and admiration for the intelligence, wisdom, and communicative capacities of dolphins, pigs, wolves,and our various primate cousins, as well as octopi and the fabled giant squid, but until I hear them weigh in on cosmology or its equivalent, I’m presuming we know some very important things they don’t. But, I digress.

Maybe it’s just my DNA talking, but I appreciate the human form and like to see it celebrated—as in Alan Lequire’s exuberant sculpture at the head of Music Row. Well, maybe it’s because one of my friends posed for that sculpture and I love seeing her in all her radiant glory right there in the middle of that vast ugliness. But a bunch of people picketed that statue recently—there’s a campaign going on complaining that Alan’s statue is indecent. As they said in this week’s Nashville Scene, uncovered breast cancer is a lot more indecent than uncovered breasts. But this is just another aspect of the demonic campaign to convince us there’s something wrong with our bodies and their needs and urges.

Too big, too small, wrong color, smells wrong, wants to relax the wrong way with the wrong person—wrong, wrong, wrong. Love is not the law among demons—the name of their game is control and shame.

Is oppressing souls unpleasant for the demon? The demon doesn’t think so—demons are inured to their obnoxious environment and the pain they cause others. They are full of the self-righteousness that comes from knowing that you are doing the Lord’s Work and Giving Sinners What They Deserve.

But the fact is, that the evil a demon does is corrosive to him or her. Poor diet, stultified emotions, a blunted intellect and a warped world view eventually take their toll, and it is far more unpleasant to be a dying demon than it is to have been one of their victims, though that is scant consolation to those victims.

Now, you may have noticed something through my little discourse on demonology: All those things that would logically be done by a demon for the right and proper conduct of hell are being done by people who call themselves Christian. So-called Christians are against abortion, birth control, and serious aid to the profoundly impoverished. So-called Christians support the bland, malnourishing pablum of mainstream culture—their self-serving squawks against Hollywood vulgarity are just windowdressing.

So-called Christians fought to keep the tortured remains of Terry Schaivo alive, even as they moved to cut welfare, medicaid, and social security. So-called Christians have propelled the so-called war on drugs until it and its collateral damage have given this so-called Land of the Free the highest prison population per capita of any country in the world. So-called Christians have moved to relax environmental standards and ease up on corporate crime, while tightening the bankruptcy laws and changing the tax laws to remove incentives to large-scale charitable giving. So-called Christians create an atmosphere of obsession and compulsion around the human body that distorts perceptions for all of us and makes a rational, emotionally adult society an impossibility.

And yes, the good news is that these so-called Christians’ indulgent disinclination towards personal lifestyle changes and spiritual evolution means that those of us who know how to take care of ourselves in those ways will probably outlast them, although we may not have much of a world left to enjoy.

Meanwhile, under the thick armor of every smug, selfish, self-righteous Christian/demon there stirs a sad soul that is crying out for love and understanding.

It is our compassionate duty to them to dodge their thrashing as best we can, regard them with love and caring, and pray that a chink in their armor somewhere, sometime, somehow, will let someone give them the love they need. Hang in there, brothers and sisters—patience is a cardinal virtue.

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