This mad fetish for war is really a case of blaming others for our own guilt,
of our own unprocessed fear of death being projected outward into the world
By John Kaminski <email@example.com>
May 12, 2005
Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?
— T.S. Eliot, “What the Thunder Said”
I resist the notion, now so popular among segments of our
desperately flailing human intelligentsia, that beings from other worlds
seeded our planet with life, or that these ETs abduct people for demonic
Freudian experiments, or that mysterious dark forces, be they angels or
aliens, control human destiny for their own petulant purposes. It's all
just too complicated, and it smacks of copping a plea, grasping for some
lame excuse, or refusing to take responsibility for one's own actions. I
mean, why ascribe evil to some esoteric mystical force when mindless savagery
has always been a hallmark of typical human behavior? We need no additional
motivation for depravity beyond the inner pit of our own personal darkness.
All these fantastic mythologies are clearly a case of trying
to blame others for guilt that is our own.
Yet humanity continues to be imprisoned in the thrall of these
supernatural shibboleths, whether the principal objects of our groveling
fear reside in the cathedral or the cosmos.
The more conscious among us have always downgraded these sensationalized
spirits — whether inspirational or injurious — into mere metaphors
for life's natural processes.
But beyond trying to classify imaginary creations that are
exclusively based on the unanswered questions about our own mortality looms
an even more dangerous question: Why is it so popular to conclude that there
appear to be two types of humans on this planet? I'm talking about the basic
good and evil split: those who live by lies and relish war versus those
who speak forthrightly and covet peace.
I was recently reminded of this dangerous classification trend
during a small waterfall of hundred dollar bills that filled my mailbox
with many unsigned letters (by readers who strive to keep me afloat for
a few more months), by one reader who noted that my willingness to consider
the possibility that there were people without souls, called by some "organic
portals," was really no different from other discriminatory schemes
concocted by the world's worst despots, whether it was — to cite two
well known examples — the way Adolf Hitler regarded Jews or Ariel
Sharon regards Arabs. (Two peas in a pod, you might say.)
Assigning fundamental differences to various perceived groups
was really no different, he asserted. And no less toxic. After all, most
of the world's wars have been waged on the claims of one group being somehow
less human than another. And most of these slanderous campaigns have been
staged as a cynical excuse to steal something valuable from the supposedly
evil group. (As is so obvious today in what we call the Middle East.)
So I had to admit the validity of his point. It's simply damaging
and potentially tragic to arbitrarily classify any group as somehow morally
inferior or intrinisically more sinister than another, even though that's
what every religion in the world does to every other group all the time.
But the big problem for me in accepting his routinely moral
assertion was that decades of evidence — hey, just read the newspapers!
— clearly shows that some hard-to-identify group was provoking all
these conflicts throughout history for the express purpose of making large
amounts of money from instigating wars.
When you really read the real history of the 20th century,
you come to understand that one small group of very rich men has controlled
both sides in all the major wars. And controls them still, always counting
the cash, but never the bodies.
I don't know about you, but this is not the way my parents
taught me to be. Hence, the temptation to contemplate theories that explain
heartless avarice and mass murder without a second thought. I tell myself
that this is something that I and my friends would not do. So, is there
actually a different breed of cat, a darker pigmentation in some human hearts,
that rules people differently from those I know and love? Are some people
missing some essential biological ingredient of humanity?
The question is .... are there really shadow people? Judging
by the behavior of American troops in Iraq, who murder innocent families
as if they are only electronic silhouettes in some video game, or of Israeli
soldiers, who make sport out of shooting Palestinian children for no reason
other than their own Talmud-induced pathology of superiority, it appears
that there really are.
I mean, what part of "Thou shalt not kill" —
the central thesis of all religious thought — don't they understand?
Everyone agrees there are no caveats to this. But in the space between agreement
and practice lies the shadow. And tragedy. And very possibly the end of
all life on this planet.
Let me take great care to define what I mean by shadow people.
I'm not talking about Art Bell's shadow people, which apparently
are visual apparitions that appear when your eyes are focused in another
direction, and are never there in the spot you thought you saw them when
you actually fix your gaze on that spot. Nor am I talking about Carlos Castaneda's
brujos, who apparently are people you talk to who later are proven not to
really exist, which may actually have been a private joke about don Juan
I'm not talking about ghosts, spirits, time travelers, ectoplasmic
wraiths, interdimensional beings, or people who reside in other physical
realities like supposedly Nick Herbert.
I’m talking about people who say one thing and do another,
people like George Bush and Dick Cheney (and Bill Clinton and Al Gore),
people who mouth pleasant platitudes and then thoughtlessly commit atrocities,
which they then spin as heroic deeds essential to your well-being (which
presumably is why they always cost so much money).
Could it be true, as many people believe, that these belligerent
cads were born without souls? Not likely, I suspect.
And I’m talking about Mr. Ordinary American, too, who,
when you tell him that 9/11 was an inside job, his face goes slack and his
mind goes blank. And when you present him with the mountains of evidence
indicating the undeniability of your statement, he just quivers and turns
away, muttering “our government would never do something like that”
without daring to contemplate the reality that our leaders “do something
like that” every day.
Yes, the fabled Mr. Ordinary American, who, when you tell
him the 2004 election was fixed and that Kerry actually won it with a large
margin of electoral votes except for the computer shenanigans that reversed
the decision, accuses you being some kind of liberal delusionary, even when
you explain you have utter contempt for both major candidates, and don’t
believe a thing either of them ever said.
Mr. Ordinary American, who can’t hear a word when you
say he threw away the lives of his own children on a war that was lie because
he actually believed what he heard on television.
And beyond that, Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary Human Being, residing
anywhere on the planet, who believe that some venerated superbeing, usually
named God, controls their every movement, and that the God of their neighborhood
is most definitely better than and superior to any other God that has ever
been invented anywhere else.
What is wrong with all these people? And why are they in such
a preponderant majority, so that the wars never cease, and lying for profit
has always been the dominant way of life?
Well, I’m going to tell you now. I’m going to
make it perfectly clear. I’m going to lay it all out in excruciating
detail for you. And if you turn away and say, “That guy’s wacked!”,
that means you’re one of the shadow people, still controlled by a
demon you dare not confront. But if you understand what I’m saying,
well, that means there’s still a faint ray of hope for this planet,
dim though it may be.
We all carry with us the shadow of death. It is, as the natural
scientists have said for a long time, what distinguishes humans from all
of our fellow animal species. Foreknowledge of death. It rules every move
To deny that we die, and invent some strategy that when our
mortal bodies expire we either go to some cool place — to go bowling
with the angels, just as an example — or get sucked into some ephemeral
process that some people call the bardo (which is like some dark carnival
funhouse where all these scary faces pop out at you, reminding you of every
nasty thing you’ve done in your entire life) and therein choose the
time and place (and parents) of your next incarnation — all these
mental machinations are constructed to deny the obvious. That when our hearts
stop and our brains cease all functions a few minutes later, that’s
the end of us as individuals. After that, we’re mulch. Our contributions
to the universe end there, and what we have done is all we will ever possess
for all of eternity.
I know that this will come as a shock to many of you, and
you will squirm and wriggle and deny with every fiber of your being that
this is the case. Why? Simple. Our brains absolutely refuse to contemplate
our own nonexistence. They fight with every fact at their disposal to create
a scenario where this is not the case, because they are wired to survive,
not to cease functioning. And yet they do.
Numerous philosophers have reflected that the human curse
is having an infinite imagination trapped in a finite body. Based on the
primary instinct to survive, the body’s mind rejects the notion of
a limited amount of life in time and finds a way to transcend it by any
means possible. Logic, reality and reason become nonfactors and spirit is
born. And the entire populace commits to the conspiracy, because it gives
them the answer they sought. Spirit is born, and the soul is its offspring.
And along with them form parasitic religions, which trade on and profit
from the desire of people to avoid death by providing concocted formulas
to do just that. None of these formulas actually work, but no one in the
conspiracy will admit it, because that result is not desired. This is a
clear case of reality is not desired. The illusion is more comfortable.
Insecurity is eliminated by eternal life.
But because it is not real, the fear remains. The purpose
of religion cannot be proven, it can only be believed. And since it is such
an obvious lie, the honest mind eventually comes to know it is a lie, and
begins to hate itself for lying, for being afraid of the ultimate truth,
which is that we don’t live forever, and have but a little time to
make the most of what we have been given.
Given by whom? We can only guess. We call it God. But even
the lamest cleric will admit we cannot know God in its entirety. God is
only a word, after all. Some unfathomable process that we call God invented
man, but man invented the word and concept of God in a feeble attempt to
explain the unexplainable.
And what have we been given? Well, if you’re lucky like
me (and who knows why?), we have been given a slice of paradise, a sensual
experience so astonishingly beautiful that we can make no other sense of
it that to eventually believe that a seemingly omnipotent force has created
the very conditions of heaven right on this little blue and green spheroid.
That’s why I always say, heaven is not something somewhere else to
be sought, it is right here, and we’re put here to make it what it
is supposed to be — heaven!
But we — each of us — only get a little time to
do it. And none of us every really succeeds, except in small ways, for the
benefit of only a few people. But that in itself is exquisite proof that
this really is heaven, if only we make it so.
For sure, thinking heaven is somewhere else and yearning for
it is the surest way to make this place hell, which is exactly what we’ve
done for the last 5,000 years, thanks in large part to believing that God
is somewhere else and we want to go there rather than realizing God is right
here, helping us all the time to make the Earth heaven. This has happened
in large part BECAUSE religions have told us that heaven was somewhere else,
instead of right here.
The only real fruits of religions can be seen flashing from
the barrel of a gun, and heard in the moans of the innocent wailing for
their unjustly murdered loved ones. This is what religions seek to accomplish,
and they succeed, because people have decided not to understand what life
is really about, or the true nature of the gift we have been given.
In being greedy and expecting to find a magic formula that
will insulate us from the inevitability of death (can’t you see it’s
the way the system works?), we trash the very things that give us life in
the first place. And thanks to psychotic marching orders like the Book of
Revelation, we are very likely to destroy the conditions that allow us this
great gift of life simply because we refuse to accept the condition of our
gift, that it does not last forever, that nothing lasts forever, not even
our great and wild universe.
That’s why I always say, without death, the possibility
of goodness would not exist. When you have to sacrifice everything to achieve
the right thing, that is love. If we lived forever, none of these things
would matter, since we would have everything we wanted, and nothing would
mean anything to us.
Therefore, believing that we have everything in the security
of an eternal life is precisely what is causing us to trash our planet and
murder innocent people with impunity, because the lies our minds know are
lies but our mouths nevertheless say in order to vainly attempt to convince
ourselves that we don’t die are lashing out in unexpected ways.
We are blinded by this false light of our own creation, an
inauthentic abomination that deep in our hearts and minds we know is a lie.
Yet we are transfixed by this artificial light, because it keeps us from
realizing our clock is ever ticking and our lease will be soon be up. (Any
resemblance of this light to a TV screen is not purely coincidental.)
To really see, and to really know why we are here, we may
not keep insisting that we will live forever by the power of magic incantations
and formulas, but we must screw up our courage and wander into the darkness
of our own shadows, and begin to understand how the seepage from this gigantic
ontological lie is causing all this unnecessary death and destruction. We
delude ourselves into thinking that killing enemies prolongs our own life,
but that is only a fearful illusion.
Once upon a time I said, true warmth is found in the coldest
dream. Now I would suggest that the brightest light is found confronting
the deepest darkness.
It is not an exaggeration to say that everything depends on
you understanding this. It will not take many more days of ignoring this
problem for all of us to perish permanently in the abyss of our own self-deception,
with no one left to say this was the epitaph of the shadow people, destroyed
by their own fearful religions.
John Kaminski is a writer who lives near the eternal ocean in a fading paradise
called Florida. His numerous Internet essays are for sale in anthologies
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