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May 17, 2006, Volume 13 Nr. 44, Issue 212

The Arrogance of "Enlightenment".  
"Spirituality" as Unconscious Prejudice.

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

What is it about the liberal mind that makes it blind to the pluralism that abounds even as it espouses pluralism itself?  What is it about liberals who subscribe to "spirituality" that prejudices their mindset toward an ignorance of those amongst their midst that do not subscribe to such antiquated notions?  Mind you, I am not trying to suppress anyone's "spirituality", their extra-human belief, nor their other-worldly concoctions.  I am, however, pointing out that many liberals who subscribe to a super-naturalist worldview assume that everyone around them does so as well.  They insist on perpetuating the myth that everyone defines spirituality in their own way.  They are wrong.  And, they are insulting when their assumptions prevent them from accommodating the non-spiritually inclined.  They just don't get it.

Liberals can hardly consider themselves "enlightened" when they assume that people around them are going to gladly join in holding hands, praying, chanting, humming a mantra, or otherwise, teleporting themselves to a different plane or state of consciousness.  It is arrogance to assume that saying a prayer, even a non-denominational prayer, is acceptable to everyone gathered in a public venue?  Such arrogance is a violation of personal space, a subterfuge of friendship, and a mockery of camaraderie.  It is maneuvering "spirituality" onto others whether they want it or not.  

Imagine a public where the people gathered were instructed to "Please holds hands and bow our heads as we read an atheist poem for world peace".  An uproar would surely follow.  And yet, when someone says, "Let us hold hands" or "Let let us pray (or meditate)", those that do not pray or meditate are suppose to go along with it, acquiescing through the polite silence of their non-confrontation.  I will not bow my head.  A similar arrogance on a national level forces us, whether we believe in god or not, to carry green bills in our wallets that say, "In God we trust".  I am grateful for checkbooks and debit cards that spare me from the "spiritual" and religious conformity imposed by the United States Federal Reserve.  Likewise, I prefer being spared from the "spirituality" of liberals and Nuagers.

It is not the atheist that foists their non-beliefs on others.  Quite the contrary, it is the believer, regardless of the belief, that foists their belief on those who do not believe.  This is fascism, an American form of national socialism.  A significant aspect of this Americanism dictates what people are to believe, how they are to behave, and what they are to accept.  This Americanism is so insidious that liberals subscribe to it without being aware of it.  Americanism unfailingly assumes that everyone believe in a higher power or energy, that everyone comport with the figments of some "spiritual" imagination.  It is difficult letting go of childhood illusions.  There are many people, however, who have.  They deserve to be free from the imposition of the fairy tales they left behind.  They do not need new fairy tales imposed upon them either.

The Machinations of Americanism

High school graduations offer a good example of the machinations of Americanism.  Most graduations implement a benediction.  The more supposedly self-aware graduation ceremonies begin with an interfaith prayer where it is assumed, if not expected, that everyone in attendance participate.  Most people bow their heads in complacent obedience.  No one is spared from the imposition of petitioning some extra-earthly force.  This deo-fascism projects a hostility toward the non-believer and non-spiritualist.  How dare anyone assume the acceptance of such hocus pocus on anybody?  On everybody?  Liberals are not immune from these tendencies.  Quite the contrary.  Liberals while fostering pluralistic tolerance toward other and multiple belief systems neglect the sensibilities of the non-believers in their midst.  Why would non-believers matter anyway?  Albert Weisbold, in "Class Struggle" (Volume 5, Number 3, 1935) wrote,

By means of Deism, American Fascism can unify all the groups within the country and the nations outside of it. With Deism as its religion and pragmatism as its method, American Fascism can be inspired to lead the world.

Liberals are not interested in pursuing a class conscious analysis of why they think and behave the way they do in matters "spiritual".  There is little interest in investigating the underlying corporate business machinations responsible for the wholesale selling of "spirituality" as a commodity.  Nor is there much interest in examining the self as being a "spirituality" consumer and agent  proliferating the dominant "spiritual" corporate paradigm.  Neither do liberals suspect that this dominant paradigm is oppression.  Leading people in prayer while having them holding hands and/or bowing their heads assuming everyone subscribes to such cult behavior is coercion.  For the most part, people do not have the audacity to challenge this imposition.  But, they should.  This deist imperative is a means of controlling people.  Such control if far from being the behavior of the "enlightened".  Rather, it is unenlightenment as it negates neutrality in favor of a preferential bias.  Those on the "spiritual" journey continue swimming as fish in the ocean in search of water ignorant of their own swimming.  Why should participation in public events require even a tacit approval of "god nature"?  And why should there be an expectation of silence from those coerced by "god nature" assumptions?  Commanded acquiescence vis--vis silence is the perpetuation of "spiritual" oppression.  It is time to speak out.

Religions have used fear well over the centuries to control populations.  Fear turns people to metaphysics and mysticism.  And fear of being ostracized is powerful.  When we publicly are expected to bow our heads, pray, meditate, participate in Buddhist chant, or otherwise defer to a higher power, it all amounts to the same thing, coercion.     

There is reason why those seeking control and power consider true education and knowledge the enemy, for free thought, both analytical and logical, with reasoning and open mindedness, invariably leads to questioning of authority, to dissent, protest and debate of myths, beliefs and propaganda, and to thinking outside the box that has for millennia shackled the human mind, rendering us unable to see truth, reality and the possibilities of our own free thoughts and capabilities.  (The Poisoning of the Well, Manuel Valenzuela, Information Clearing House, 01/19/06).

Valenzuela makes the point that "in human misery religion finds a nest".  Liberals may argue that their metaphysical beliefs are areligious and do not perpetuate human misery.  This is wishful thinking.  Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D., ("When the 'light' in 'Enlightenment' goes out", OnlineJournal, Nov 30, 2005) writes, 

The Enlightenment illuminated the difference between the supernatural and the natural, between metaphysics and physics, between the irrational bigotry that underwrites religious dogma and the rational, civil responsibilities of secular governments. It showed the way out of the theocratic Dark Ages. The Enlightenment celebrated humanity and the essence of being human, rather than condemning them. It celebrated the human mind and its intellect, rather than damning them.

Seesholtz's references the Enlightenment (with a capital "E") of the Middle Ages which brought humanity a few good solid steps out of ignorance.  He is not referring to the "enlightenment" of present day liberals whose archaic thinking predates the Enlightenment of the Middle Ages.  Seesholtz sees the American Republic as "a product of the Enlightenment" that is, 

...devolving and embracing the same "Christian roots" that fed the theocracies of the Dark Ages, when science was heretical and equal access to and treatment for all under the law was a ridiculous idea widely acknowledged as an immoral perversion of "God's law," as that law was interpreted and espoused by religious leaders in privileged political positions. 

Many liberals are unknowingly agents of this devolution having abandoned the belief that human reason can overcome the idiocy of superstition and the loopy lunacy of other-worldliness.  God, god-nature, or whatever, is no more on their side, than it is on the side of conservatives and fundamentalists.  The anti-intellectualism of both have much in common.  Both are equally dangerous, especially during these dangerous times where fear has been elevated to an art form.  Both sets of devolutionists are antithetical to freedom and democracy.  

It is important to emphasize that in this discussion, no-one is attempting to stifle anyone's personal "spiritual" inclinations.  But when those inclinations become publicly intrusive and obtrusive, a line is crossed that requires attention and redress.  If those with a naturalist world view do not provide this redress then nothing will change and marginalization will continue.  Today,

Only atheists (and adherents of some non-abrahamic religions such as Wicca) can be openly subjected to prejudiceness, discrimination and marginalization without consequences.  (How to make a difference,

This marginalization will only end when people with a naturalist world view maintain vigilance and point it out whenever they come across it.  Liberals need to hear it the most.  It's time to let them know and point out the unconscious prejudice of their "spirituality".  

Until the theist walked up to me with a god-claim in his hand, I was simply minding my own business and living my life as a regular human. Theism is their business, not mine! Thus, I am an atheist only in response to their being theists. Were it not for the god claims, there would be no atheism. In this sense, I am still a regular human -- even in the face of several dozen god-claims each week.  

-- Cliff Walker (Positive Atheism magazine, Dec 14, 2001)

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski is co-editor and co-publisher of Metaphoria along with his life partner and wife, JeanneE.  He is 30-year veteran retired teacher and a member of Veterans For Peace.  His writings have appeared in Metaphoria, After Downing Street, Buzzflash, Counterpunch, Thomas Paine's Corner,, Omni Center, Rutland Herald, Times Argus, and others.  

2006 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

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