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Libyan Writer Ghoma

Monday, 6 February, 2006

RELIGION: THE OPIUM OF THE MASSES...?

By: Ghoma

        Ever since Karl Marx uttered these words and the controversy surrounding them is still raging flames of whether he'd hit upon a sensitive nerve or just a callous fibers. Was he absolutely and completely wrong or just he'd told humans something they don't want to hear? Is there today or in the past a society in the grip of Religion and has made any signs of movement affirming its being still alive or has made any positive contributions to the art of living? Were not such societies wherever and whenever have existed made a mockery out of civilization, had gone into hibernation, and made practice of denying individuals any form of personal freedoms? Have there ever been a Muslim who doubted the existence of God, refuted Islam, converted, or negated the Prophets's truths as absolutes, and was then left alone and lived in peace with his/her rights intact? What's still taking place today in front of our eyes to writers and critics of being intimidated, hunted, and some even done away with reminds one that the Middle Ages's and Inquisition's methods -burning at the stake and forced conversions- are still alive and kicking in our forlorn World of Islam.

        Having said all of this, what follows shouldn't in any way, shape, or form be interpreted as a campaign against Religion per se. I do recognize, perhaps some dose of religion when is practiced in moderation and kept under control by social mechanisms, while is in no way a panacea to individual and social ills, may constitute, like any alternative medicine, an outlet and a form of hope, for otherwise untamed frustrations and unfulfilled dreams! While one always laments the lack of awareness and the misunderstandings of others's sensilibilties, due perhaps to lack of communications among different cultures and religions, nonetheless, the freedom, if not the right, to violate taboos -anybody's taboos- and to question long held sacrosanct believes are a paramount to this civilization and in these days and age.

        The more one sees and hears about what's taking place these days in Arab and Muslim lands the more one's gets deeper into melancholy, if not outright sadness. The gloom settles in out of the realization that these folks are addicted to something beyond human ability to do anything about it. There's no detoxification process, experts, or clinics to get people out of their addiction to Religion. Unlike addictives's to any other substances religious addicted's are more insidious and thus dangerous. For, most of the other addictive stuffs leave their users in a state of quietude, since they induce them into states of trance, ecstasy and passive moods of quiet solitude. Instead contrary to repeated claims by the learned of the summa theologica, Religion acts in complete and opposite ways -than the other addictive substances- it not only sweeps the intellect clean from what may constitute resistance to its -religion- workings, that's, takes control over all other programs, and introduces states of high excitements into the inner interstices of the minds and hearts of the devotees, but the most effective -and worst- it also seems to neutralize, if not to paralyze, the synapses and neurotransmitter from carrying the impulses into the side of the grey matter (left hemisphere of the brain) responsible for coding and decoding the factual reality, i.e. the rational thinking. In other words Religion's outer states of content and passiveness seems to be deceptive in the sense, just as the calm surfaces of the oceans may hide the turbulent currents underneath, Religion covers the high states of disturbance, excitements, and agitations by a gauzy piteous veneer!

        This rudimentary and layman's attempt at deciphering the social psychology of a large swath of the human race(s) is only an invitation to a new crop of, call them, social psychiatrists to busy themselves with perhaps a new task: figuring out how Religion works to dupe its devotees to somnolence and thus induces them to addictive modes of existence, and then to find a cure to, though what's basically a social frailty yet it's quintessentially an individual addiction! It's not an invitation to a specific group of people but to the all and sundry who occupy themselves to the understanding of the human spirit -not in the sense of the soul but rather in the sense of the Zeitgeist! Human problem solvers and social engineers. For, if it were to any specific group of professionals, one may ask: Is it possible for what would perhaps be essentially only an individually oriented field(s) to be re-directed towards such a gargantuan task. The call is a social task, out of the believe that sciences can perform miracles when are pursued by brilliant practitioners, and second there's no other alternative in sight! Maybe because psychiatry and psychology are multdisciplinary endeavors that bridge and infuses the physical sciences with humanities, social sciences, and even the Arts are the closest to the call. For these fields, before they're autonomous disciplines with a prescribed kit of tools, tips, and tricks, their foundations reach deep into the philosophical ponderings, cultural conditionings, and the arts's insights and perceptiveness into the inner states that drive human behaviors.

        Is it so desperate a situation to be medicalized? Yes. But only if the new breed of "doctors" are not the one we use today. A new group of people soaked into the arts and sciences of what makes the humans tick. For the Muslim masses have shown repeatedly their unconcern with anything else outside of their own personal and individual salvations. No matter how much they've been kicked them around, cheated them of their freedoms and put them on leashes, invaded in their lands, bombed their cities and villages to the stone age, if they've ever been out of it!- screwed up their systems of support and livelihood, driven them like cattle to an illusive pastureland, et cetera, et cetera, etc.,.... and not many raised a whisper or did a nary thing to upset the status quo; but, if one said something stupid and did a trivial action that concerned, from near or far, the creeds or idols the mob keeps dear to their hearts and one's in a pickle! No other subject or concern can raise the ire of the homo-religicus except what he/she deems sacrilegious, and thus beyond the pail to anyone except themselves or who they trusted.

        The masses who witnessed and weathered the raping of Jerusalem, the bombing of Beirut, the Destruction of Baghdad, Kabul, etc. or the presence of foreign troops on most of the lands of Islam, never gone to the streets or demanded an explanation or apology, but when a small newspaper in some forgotten corner of Europe published few cartoons showing what presumably would be the Prophet the mob was let loose and the rampages is still continuing without limits. Why? Because the police states of your-holy-than-though, are in the habit of scapegoating, anybody, to ward off and channel the pent-up anger against them by a God sent manna -those savage and unsuspecting Danish and Norwegians, how dare they remind us of what others think of us?

        The funny thing about the whole proposal, it's to be outsourced! Like everything else in the blessed Dar-al-Islam, this one too has to be contracted -on turnkey contracting basis- to those who took upon themselves the defining of the art of living and the improvement on the human condition continuously. Our fellow human travelers, our neighbors to the East and the West, have once more, if they please, to come to our help and rescue us from ourselves; for our state is dangerous and deep in coma, far beyond our ability to realize what needs to be done to bring us back to consciousness. Oh, brave knights of civilization, who chose to sin, on humanity's behalf, and instead of spending your days and nights genuflecting and praying to the Almighty High for your personal salvation, you've chosen to sequester yourselves in labs and workshops and spent your days and nights searching for the causes and cures for the diseases that had devastated humans through their existence, inventing means of transport and communications beyond even the imagination of the wisest of the prophets, making life ever more tolerable to bear and the world less fearful to venture to. You, in the East and West, have to finish the job and dedicate yourselves to perhaps one last stubborn problem which has defied time and reason, to come with a solution to the addiction of close to one-fifth of your human brethrens, and make them see the light where they only see darkness, save them from their own afflictions.

Ghoma
Ghoma47@hotmail.com

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