My friend Bill is pessimistic as hell, and he’s becoming more so with age. He doesn’t deny it. Rather, he wears it like a merit badge, arguing that pessimists are more realistic and more often right in their predictions than optimists. He says optimists suffer from perceptions of reality that are either contrary to evidence or lacking in evidence altogether.
He says there’s no evidence to support religious beliefs—none of them. They’re nothing more than fairytales, superstitions, or just plain bullshit that priests, ministers, rabbis, ayatollahs, prophets, gurus, and other parasites in the religious arena use to control people and extract income and wealth from them. Moreover, he says that if all you have to support something is faith, it cannot be classified as knowledge. Knowledge requires supporting evidence, and no evidence means you don’t know.
He says the Catholic Church with its dictatorial hierarchy, notions of absolute truth and infallibility, secrecy, and sense of independence from the civil authority attracts and protects men with depraved and unlawful inclinations and behavior, namely pedophiles who prey on innocent and trusting young people. He views power in all its concentrations, including the Catholic Church, as a source of corruption and often repeats a modification of Lord Acton famous quote: “Power attracts the corrupt, and absolute power attracts the corrupt absolutely.”
He says the Christian Right is hell bent on using the political system to impose their religious beliefs on others. And it doesn’t bother them that in the process, they deny basic civil rights to people who they perceive as different from them in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, and politics. He says those bastards believe they’re doing God’s will, but when Muslims and Hindus do their notions of God’s will, they are outraged.
Contrary to the eco-Nazis, he says humankind is part of the planet’s natural order and not an invading infestation of the planet—like invaders from outer space. But he agrees that humankind is devolving because advances in medical science have largely negated natural selection. The consequence, for example, is that homicidal maniacs can live as long and pass their genes on to as many children as anyone else. So as a species, humankind is becoming less and less of a fit to the environment it has created, which means it is bound for extinction. In short, humankind continues to create an environment that will eventually destroy it.
With a tongue-and-cheek gleam in his eyes, he applies basic economic analysis to the problem of crime and law enforcement. He says judges, lawyers, policemen, and everyone else in law enforcement do not really want to curb or eliminate crime because that’s how they earn their living. Crime justifies their existence and importance in society. Reducing or eliminating crime does not serve their self-interest. Maintaining and increasing it does, which, of course, is exactly what we have observed.
He says the Democrats perpetuate their power by catering to, and more importantly, creating the illusion of catering to, a large percent of the population that is made up of people who perceive themselves as victims rather than what they really are, namely people who seek to use government as a mean freeloading off the hard work and productivity of others. One of his favorite quotes is from George Bernard Shaw: “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can count on the support of Paul.”
He says we should not have invaded Iraq and gotten rid of Saddam Hussein because Saddam was doing us a favor, namely containing the Shiites, who hate us. By freeing the Shiites, we increased their ability to kill Americans and create more havoc in the Middle East. In Syria, he says the two sides we know about are Assad’s people, who hate us, and the Islamists among the rebels, who also hate us. So it is not in our interest to stop them from killing each other.
Moreover, he says that in the War on Terror, it’s not only a radical core of Muslims—the Jihadists—that is the enemy but also the large number of Muslims around them that provide financial and logistical support and the even larger number of Muslims that provide encouragement and moral support.
He says we ought to bring all of our troops home and stop getting involved in wars, especially in Third World countries where people are so fucked-up with religion they resist any effort to free themselves from not only religious tyranny but the political tyranny that goes with it. He says that what we should do if any of them attack us at home or abroad is send in the drones, or better still, Nuke ’em! Mocking the eco-Nazis, he always adds with a grin that the measures he recommends should be undertaken, of course, in an environmentally sensitive way so as not to kill any endangered species.
I don’t argue with him much anymore because he is so sure he is correct in what he says that to argue would be pointless. And too, he has been a good friend, coming up now on fifty years. So, I do the same thing his very easy-going wife, two delightful daughters, and others in his life do. I let what he says—oratory, drama, and all—run its course, which if nothing else, I find thought provoking and entertaining. And I must admit there is a ring of truth in much of it.
Copyright © July 2013 Frank Zahn. Published in The Writings of a Curious Mind: A Collection of Essays, Memoirs, and Short Stories, Vancouver Books (Kindle Edition) 2017.