Oct 31, 2009

Myths and Folklore Can be Fun in a Reality-Based World. Escape from Reality Shouldn't be a Constant!

Halloweeeeeen! Oh, I love a good old myth. Jac-O-Lantern is such a ridiculous story that's is amusing. I wish I could say the same about some other--many official--holidays, but I won't go into that today. There are many pagan elements to this fun holiday, and, of course, witchcraft. All in good fun, but not according to the CBN (Pat Robertson's tube). The fundies are afraid that "demonic influences" may be lurking in the candy, because most of the candy "sold this year has been dedicated and prayed over by witches"! This story would be funny if it weren't for the fact millions of Americans believe such things. For an advanced society, this is appalling; the lunatic fringe is too big to be on the fringes of our society--with practical implications in our culture and politics.

I think most people don't spend much time thinking about their belief systems. Obviously, Halloween is a fun holiday and nothing more than that to most people, including myself. But, it's big business in the US. In this recession times, Americans are expected to spend more this year on costumes, candy and parties than ever before. Escape from reality. I mean, it's OK to do this once in a while, but being in a alternate-reality universe can be a problem.
Religious rituals have been with humanity ever since thunder was observed. Fear and ignorance was the guiding forces behind inventing rituals to appease the gods and cope with the harsh life. It wasn't long after that the elites used religion to further entrench their privileged status and further keep people in a state of few and ignorance. I suppose if a person has no education, no access to information--other than what culture and the authorities allow--and is indoctrinated into a rigid belief system (absolutism), then it's rather impossible to escape this reality.
It's not accident that change in human societies (including certain ideas), took thousands of years to take hold. Even when there was change, including new belief systems, usually it was one absolute idea/practice replaced by another. Pagan practices gave rise to Christian ones. Actually all three Abrahamic religions have common views of human nature, morality, society, and of a god who capriciously suspends his own physical laws.
Although most of our human history has been an exercise for survival in a very difficult environment (state of nature, and man-made conditions), human have chosen the convenient whenever it was possible. Of course, primitive societies had taboos against change; change was not borne by forthought or encouragement. Some change came because of unintented consequences and/or by some brave individuals who went against the current. But, nowadays, I'd prefer a bit more of an effort to understand the world around us. A bit of an inquiry into long-held beliefs that have a direct effect on our lives. Times have changed indeed, I just wish there was a bit more rational thinking going on.

No comments: