Category Archives: religion and spirituality

Selling War

Undeniably we live in troubled times. But why? If you listen to the news you will hear convenient stories that perpetuate the division and hate that fuels the chaos of this world. Why don’t we ever hear about the things that promote peace, that erode division, that elevate us out of fear and anxiety? The answer is quite simple; there’s no profit when people live in peace.

Muslim extremism occupies a vast majority of media coverage here in America.

Religion in general, is being demonized by many as the source of the worlds turmoil.

Yet, I could’t disagree more.

The arguments for or against faith have become largely convoluted in recent years. In an attempt to rationally understand the issues the world faces many are quick to blame religion, but in-so-doing they are overlooking an obvious and more direct cause.

A for profit system that perpetuates war through carefully constructed ideological reasonings.

I know… I know… that was a mouthful. But it is true none-the-less.




The truth is that the mind can construct clever rationalizations to justify almost any action. Therefore, whenever an action is desired a thought process can be adopted to make us think we are righteous in doing so.

Now, if someone else desires a certain action to of you, they can help you reach this by convincing you it is the right thing to do.

People will believe what is convenient, they will hold tightly to the beliefs that prop them up and justify their chosen course of action. This is just human nature.

The manipulation of your worldview, your perception, is an ongoing process and you are being attacked from all sides and at all times.

Companies and Corporations want to sell you something. Fanatics want you to believe as they do. Law makers want you to trust them. There is a trillion dollar industry that wants to sell you war.

They try and accomplish all of this by manipulating the way you see the world.

Ideologies are all around us. They help us to form a mental map of the complex world in which we live. These ideologies can be anything from a system of belief that forms an organized religion, or a system of belief that creates blind Patriotism.

All ideologies can be radicalized, and in so doing used as a justifying way of perceiving a course of action.

In my opinion the problems of this world are never rooted solely in religion, or any ideology for that matter. The violent and hateful actions of the individual are the direct cause of the worlds problems. In attempting to cast blame on an ideology we are missing the greater problem.

If religion was non-existent people would find new ways to justify violent and hateful action.
Governments would still promote ideologies that preserve and expand their authority.
Hateful people would still construct ridiculous narratives to justify their hate.
Violent people would still lash out and continue dehumanizing their victims to justify the violence.

You see, the problem is always within the individual. As a people, we must accept accountability individually in order to stop the violence, the hate, and the chaos of this world. After all, their can be no war without the soldier.

Although certain ideologies are more dangerous than others in there overtly hateful and divisive narratives, most fall well short of the violence and hate that plagues the world.

I think the struggles we face are the direct manifestations of the psychopathy that has long been rewarded throughout history.

The most ruthless rise to positions of power, the narcissist is rewarded. This is the common thread woven through the tapestry of human history. How else would the proponents of war risen to power?

When this is understood, it is then easy to see how the systems that have developed globally have done so to elevate the narcissist and oppress the compassionate. I am not saying that everyone in a position of power is bad, not by a long-shot, but we clearly have a system that perpetuates violence, hate, and war.
Arno Gruen said, “No matter how much lip service those committed to power (psychopaths) may pay to the principle of equality (empaths), they can never approach their fellow human beings on an equal footing; their relationships with others are defined solely in terms of power and weakness. Therefore, they must accumulate as much power as possible, with the aim of becoming invulnerable and proving this invulnerability.”

William Shakespeare famously stated;
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

This is very true, especially when we look at the direct actions of the players. How often do the actions of the individual betray their true intentions? What about the intentions of government? Or the intentions of a community or an organization? The things we say are often palatable to the majority consensus as to what is proper and acceptable, but our actions are quite often less acceptable.

Take the American people for example. We hold tightly to our aspirations of equality, of freedom, of high ethical and moral standards, yet our actions fall undeniably short.

We promote racism, bigotry, ignorance and hate the whole while patting each other on the back for being ‘good old boys’. UnAmerican has become American. We deny our Veterans, our homeless, and our disenfranchised as we declare our abundance of charity and moral fiber.

The only reason this is possible is because the world is a stage, and we are all actors, adopting the patterns of thought that support our worldview and the worldview of those in which we think we belong.

The politicized agendas of those in positions of power are almost always the fuel towards radicalization of an ideology. Look at Germany and the rise of the Third Reich in the early twentieth century. They used ideologies to promote pro-German nationalist fervor and to dehumanize the Jewish people. The hunger for power, which is rewarded ithrough the political system, fueled this dark episode in recent history. With a mixture of propaganda and pride Hitler raised an entire generation to see themselves as superior and an entire race as sub-human. Arguably, nationalism was the chief ideology used in his radicalization of the German people.

I think most would agree that Hitler and those of like mind caused the horrors of the Holocaust and WWII, and not simply the idea of Nationalism.

No one thinks Nationalism should be blamed. So why are so many people quick to point their finger scoffing at religion?

Again, I think it is pretty obvious that there are those who crave power and politicize the issues we face as a people, and as a nation. By using divisive and hateful rhetoric they create an enemy, a perceived threat, that they can then offer solutions to. It is all a trick. This is true for both the radicalized Muslim jihadist and the Fox watching pro-war American. Both are led down a path of cleverly constructed narratives that justify an end goal, for one it is jihad, and for another it is supporting a war effort. Both believe themselves to be righteous, both willingly accept the loss of human life, both ascribe to the silly romanticized version of a righteous war. Essentially, both are persuaded to bring death and destruction into this world, and that makes them both as far from the truth as possible.

Is it possible that a war effort be just and true? Not really, because war by definition is offensive. Defending oneself or ones community is one thing, but that is far from what we do here in the United States.

The world is not in conflict because of Religion, it is in conflict because of the power-hungry in positions of authority that promote division and hate to perpetuate their power and wealth.

They say hindsight is 20/20 so lets look back at the evidence throughout history. America has been at war for 93% of her existence. Every war was fought for power or for possession, or the preservation of one or the other.

War efforts are profitable to certain interests. War creates a demand that can then be filled and payed for by the peoples money, by taxes.
The most recent major report on these costs come from Brown University in the form of the Costs of War, which totaled just over $1.1 trillion.

That money directly benefited the very same people that promoted and propagated the lies that led to the war. This is exactly how it has been throughout history time and time again. Wars are manufactured to create profit.

Some estimates put the thirteen year war on terror at 14 million… an hour! 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This money is allocated through governmental agencies and privately owned corporations that make there living on war.

Think about that for a minute, 14 million for every hour that passes, every day, all year long. This is an enormous amount of money and it has funded the rise of the military-industrial complex that self-perpetuates the notion that war is good for business.

Unfortunately, war equates to the suffering and death of human beings and is therefore never a good thing. We, here in America, must awaken to the war-mongering that is being droned through our radio signals, wifi connections and news stations to directly influence us towards division and hate, and eventual war.
Every time we speak a hateful word, promote division, or accept an ideology that justifies violence, we are pandering to this cycle of war for profit that has hijacked our nation.

 

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Does Spirituality and Religion Positively Impact Health?

Science has long observed significant links between religion and spirituality and well-being. There seems to be a correlation with ones depth and comfort in spiritual or religious practices and their overall health. Empirical studies have shown this to be the case time and again, yet we do not know the exact reasons for these associations. The use of global indices to measure religiosity and spirituality (such as frequency of church attendance, or self-rated religiousness), has repeatedly proven that a correlation exists.

 By Livioandronico2013 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http-::creativecommons.org:licenses:by-sa:4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.jpg

By Livioandronico2013 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http-::creativecommons.org:licenses:by-sa:4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.jpg

Faith and spirituality can be enormously advantageous for many reasons. We seem to be geared as a species to thrive under the passion and purpose that often accompanies a faith journey. Why is this the case? Why does practicing religion (or engaging in spiritual practices of whatever sort) enrich and inspire us in ways that are so powerful, so unique, and indispensable for the large majority of the worlds inhabitants?

If you are anything like me you have an inner voice that is immutable but often softly spoken. I’m talking about that place where your gut gets its information. The deepest part of your-self that knows innately how you feel before your brain catches up. You know what I’m talking about. The little piece of you that if betrayed begins a torrent of negative emotions to flow forth because it knows that something is amiss (and is hell-bent on correcting it).

Cyprien Eugène Boulet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.jpg

As human beings we are extremely well equipped in choosing the right path. We each have a dual edged approach at decision making that comes standard with each new model. Usually though, we neglect to acknowledge both equally. Giving equal value to each is imperative. When this dual-edged approach is acknowledged, understood, and utilized we suffer less as we meander along this organic foot-path called life. Approaching from both sides allows us to hone in more accurately on the exact choice that is right for us. It allows us to step sure-footedly with confidence assured that we won’t feel any negative emotions such as regret, remorse, and pain. When we choose correctly there is no suffering of any kind.

By Norbert Nagel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http-::creativecommons.org:licenses:by-sa:3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.jpg
By Norbert Nagel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http-::creativecommons.org:licenses:by-sa:3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.jpg

You may already have guessed what two processes I am alluding to; the marvelous harbinger of cognition ‘The Brain’ and the depth of emotion that flows from ‘The Heart’. When these two are in agreement you can be sure that each choice will be both sound and reasonable and won’t disappoint. This brings me to the very point I am trying to make; that religious and spiritual practices often bring attention to the importance of both rather than leaning towards one or the other. A faith journey can be seen, not only as a  path toward something, but a path into something. Wether we are reading scripture, partaking in traditions of old, or simply meditating on the beauty and depth in nature, we can deepen our understanding of our-selves. If your feeling nature has as equal footing with that reasoning mass between your ears it’s a sure-fire way to start making decisions that are more fulfilling and in alignment with your true nature.

By Clément Bardot (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http-::creativecommons.org:licenses:by-sa:4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.jpg
By Clément Bardot (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http-::creativecommons.org:licenses:by-sa:4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.jpg

Maybe this is the reason that there is a correlation between religiosity, spirituality, and health. Could it be that self-understanding is gained through practicing a system of beliefs? If it allows us to make better choices and avoid the ill effects and stress of self-betrayal than the short answer is yes. Which brings me back to the little voice within that represents your feeling nature; if you don’t listen and be honest with yourself (even if we’re talking about religion or race or politics or whatever), you will never be truly happy…or healthy for that matter.

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