The voice said “flee from the iniquities” yet few will heed
For we become petty gods inside the structure.
False prophets too, with wringing hands belying lack of vision
Lying too, enabling denial.
Ours is to serve, not think nor stray from the mantras of false prophecy
And of words debased
Pakal knew this though never knew of Sumer though both would fall
Life cares nought for sacrificed children.
Such dogmas are the remit of priests and profits
Priests die, belief lives on and we must all bask in its radiance
While cities sink and forests burn
Are we not chosen to walk amongst the gods?
We humans have an irrational love of structure and the more abstract, the better. Hierarchical religions rank as the most powerful abstract structures within human civilisation. They provide both a comforting illusion and a template for other dogmatic structures within society. The comforting illusion being that we humans are somehow separate from the real world and thus not limited by physical realities.
Belief in abstract falsehoods enables selfish behaviours that transcend individual religions, peoples and and time. The Mayans under Pakal the “Great” and other “divine” rulers performed human sacrifice, denuded forests and destroyed agricultural lands, all the while labouring to build temples to fictional deities. Their behaviour was hardly unique: The Sumerians, one of the first advanced settled civilisations in the Fertile Crescent also performed human sacrifice and the usual victims were children or prisoners of war.
Throughout the late medieval and early modern periods, Christian societies burned witches and heretics as indirect offerings to God. Occasionally the hypocrisy was commented on by those whom the Church deemed sub-human. Spanish missionaries were appalled both by the Aztecs’ penchant for human sacrifice and by the bemused observation by Aztec priests that the Spanish Inquisition was essentially performing the same heinous acts in Europe.
We moderns are little different in our devotion to abstract nonsense. Like the medieval Mayans we devote enormous quantities of time and energy to our own man-made gods and belief systems. Our prevailing dogma is that of economic determinism: A belief that societies are and must be divided into competing economic classes whose relative power is determined by the nature of the economic system.
Within that context, human life and dignity is of secondary importance to that of abstract market-forces. These days human sacrifice translates into wage-slavery, child-labour and mass death in order to produce banal goods of questionable quality. The mantras of today include terms such as “global economy”, “free markets”, “consumer choice” and “cost-effective”.
Those most determined to maintain the status quo adore such mantras and work to discourage and obfuscate any critical assessment of objective reality. Banks, businesses, and ideological politicians twist language in order to enable denial of reality. Unsuited as these forces are to providing insight or direction for society, their very unsuitability becomes obvious whenever reality strikes. Be it Houston, New Orleans or Bangladesh, the most that these forces can do is utter platitudes while thousands die or are displaced.
The reality is that our prevailing methods and ideologies are incompatible with the greater forces of the natural world. However, rather than admit there is a problem and that we humans exist as part of and not separate from the natural world, our civilisation retreats into denial and lying. Climate science is attacked as “a Chinese hoax”. The destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey is touted as divine punishment for homosexuality. Meanwhile, disparate but related events aggravated by human activity and climate change are ignored, be they floods in the US and Bangladesh or wild-fires in British Columbia, Alberta and California.
The aim of the denial and obfuscation is to ensure continuity of methods and beliefs that don’t work. Hence mansions will be rebuilt (with tax incentives) in the Malibu Hills fire-plain, businesses and homes in Fort McMurray will be rebuilt (in order to further exploit the oil-sands) and churches will continue to pass around collection plates in Houston.
There’s an old cliché that history repeats itself but that statement isn’t entirely true. History is full of precedents be they technological, ideological or individual. It is far more accurate to say that humans are prone to repeating amoral behaviours. As with the Mayans and the Sumerians, our modern society is heading towards collapse due to its preoccupation with abstract nonsense and a belief that we, as a species are special. The reality being that “Mother Nature” or life doesn’t care. But then why should we worry about reality when our own beliefs would have us walk with the gods?