Who can we REALLY trust?
Our elders? Mine taught me to believe in Santa Claus
Churches? Besides Santa, one church taught us that the sun goes around the earth
Doctors? They taught us that scurvy was incurable (and that smoking was safe)
The Media? They did not warn us about economic instabilities
Politicians? Right, as if our politicians are more trustworthy than politicians in general!
Beware of trusting tradition. Traditions come and go. Respect them, but do not worship them.
Copernicus and Galileo both noted that the earth revolves around the sun, but only Galileo attracted the wrath of the ruling Empire of organized coercion by proudly challenging tradition. Nearly two thousand years before them, Aristarchus, Seleucus, and even Archimedes had also publicly referenced the idea that the earth revolved around the sun, though Archimedes simply acknowledged the model while rejecting it as false.
Galileo facing the Holy Roman Inquisition- Image via Wikipedia
So, it is one thing to merely reference something like Archimedes did, another to confirm it, and yet another to openly disrespect tradition by advocating a model contrary to popular superstition and even publicizing the error of egomaniacal dictators. Galileo was emphatically warned that aggressively publicizing his model (of an earth that revolves around the sun) would result in personal punishment and then he openly risked that punishment, resulting in his conviction as a heretic by the Inquisition. He was spared the typical death sentence of ritual human sacrifice of the Holy Roman Empire‘s Inquisition and was even spared imprisonment or torture, instead only being placed under “house arrest” for the rest of his life (9 years).
"Two priests torture a heretic and demand that he repent." Image via Wikipedia
Now, there are many popular beliefs which may be myths, from Santa Claus to geocentric models of astronomy to political intolerance, like the theatrical anti-communist purges headed by US Senator Joe McCarthy. Ironically, that anti-communist purge was rather similar to any other purge, including communist purges. The McCarthy purge was rather like it would be to organize a counter-Inquisition to purge all Catholics as punishment for the historic Inquisition by a few Catholics centuries before: a replication of the thing it is alleged to oppose or prevent, a mere hijacking of the prior tradition, a clear hypocrisy.
Some people shout and scream and rage each time that a politician is exposed as a hypocrite. Eventually, one may notice a pattern: a high proportion of the politicians in world history have condemned behavior patterns that they were practicing themselves at the time, especially deception (but also coercion).
But why condemn spies for practicing deception? Why condemn assassins for practicing violence and terrorism? Why condemn commercial advertising propagandists for cultivating distraction, disinformation, and confusion?
That is the clear function of mainstream media and education, and what would actually be really odd would be frequent disclaimers warning the masses that commercials are designed to influence perception and behavior. So, have we been trained to condemn certain practices primarily in order to discourage us from practicing them- or at least openly practicing them?
Historically, there have been many social institutions that have cultivated antagonism against their own institution and then punished the rebellion. Courts need crimes (and criminals). Armies need enemies, like in the US Civil War in which the Union Army invaded and occupied the people living in territories that wished to basically get a divorce from the USA.
However, could any individual or group in the governments of those states legitimately speak for all of the people of those territories? While several leaders of the Rebel Confederacy may have favored secession, which sectors of the population favored or opposed secession? How about Native Americans? (Oddly enough, various groups of Native Americans and even slaves may have fought on both sides of the Civil War.)
Some people may say that the sacred principles of property rights were being defended by the Confederate soldiers: the legal right to own another human being as property. Many of the “moral justification ideologies” of politicians that are popular within a particular group at some time are later relaxed or even reversed. Even the Roman Catholic Church officially reversed it’s position on Galileo’s heliocentrism in 1992 (which was 359 years after his trial, conviction and sentencing for the crime of heresy).
The government of the US has famously reversed it’s position on such issues as slavery, the right of women to vote, and the criminalization of alcohol. In fact, what was once a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment, speaking the Navajo language, was later a famous “secret weapon” of US Military in World War 2. Also, about two hundred years after the religious freedom at least of certain white males was protected in the US, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 was passed (yes, even protecting religious practices that included the use of the Navajo language).
Traditions come and go. Respect them, but do not worship them. Beware of trusting them.
Jesus apparently taught “cease condemnation and forgive.” Obviously, not everyone who may appreciate something about the story of Jesus is aware of that specific teaching, and further not all who are aware of it are equally developed in the practice of forgiveness or humble repentance from condemnation.
Shall we condemn them for even only a recent history of condemning? Shall we add to the already long history of religious hypocrisy? We could. We could even simply condemn all people who condemn people, or at least condemn some of the people who condemn people.
We could also condemn the media for doing what they have always done, or condemn the politicians for doing what they have always done, or condemn any of the traditionalists for resisting alternative theoretical models, like by condemning those models. So we could condemn some or all traditions and traditionalism.
We could even condemn being respectful of traditions and traditionalism rather than contemptuous. We could make contempt in to a new tradition to champion.
“Contempt is next to Godliness,” we could shout. We could write it on signs: “What we need is more contempt! Okay, maybe I don’t need more contempt, but obviously you do!”