The recent expose of Scientology by HBO (based on Lawrence Wright’s book) leaves many unanswered questions concerning human society and the way it is organised and regulated. Perhaps a more appropriate phrase might be, “…how it is disorganized and unregulated”.
The marketing of snake oil has never been an entirely American invention. Conmen and tricksters have been around this earth since time immemorial but it’s taken the United States, with its twisted Constitutional ideals of “freedom”, to really hone the art of snake oil marketing into an art-form so perfect it’s allowed Scientology to evolve into a multi-billion dollar entity sufficiently powerful to force the Internal Revenue Service into capitulating to its demands.
I know of no other nation in the Western world where Scientology would have been allowed to blossom as it has in the United States of America. It’s so obviously not a religion that a levy of taxes would have rapidly put paid to its leaders’ aspirations, as would have been the case in America had the First Amendment of the Constitution not been so successfully twisted as to allow this monumental confidence trick to take on and win its case against the IRS.
We are living in a world where the violation of religious principle for political power is only too evident. Scientology bears no more true adherence to a religion than Star Trek or Game of Thrones. ISIS has as little to do with true Islam as The Unification Church has with orthodox Christianity.
Everywhere, religious belief is under attack from those who would use violence and brainwashing to gain power over others. And, who is to blame for this situation? Can there be any other fault but our own?
The human ego has long refused to accept its mortality. How can we possibly be just another animal? After all we have intelligence, and abilities impossible for any other creature on the planet. We put great store by our intelligence. We’ve built civilizations – but, so do termites. We’ve learned to farm and harvest our food – but, so do ants.
We’ve studied the Universe and discovered our beginnings – while systematically destroying our only planetary home. We’ve harnessed the power of the atom – primarily to subjugate and slaughter our fellow beings. We’ve learned to manipulate the minds of our brothers and sisters – to possess power and riches at their expense.
Animals do none of the things mentioned in the last paragraph. They helped maintain the balance of nature, until we came along and disrupted it. They hunt only for food and will rarely kill their own species. They know not riches and power, for they have no egos.
Maybe our “intelligence” is not so beneficial as we like to think it is. Perhaps it’s no more than a quirk of evolution, a branch on that great tree of life destined to wither and die for no other reason than it just doesn’t work.
Scientology could be considered a pinnacle of human intelligence. After all, it’s persuaded hundreds of thousands of human beings to part with their money, give up loved ones and friends, and devote themselves to making the cult’s present leader, David Miscavige, a cool $50,000,000. And that takes some doing!
Of course Miscavige is not alone. There have been far too many so-called ‘pastors’ of mega-churches, TV evangelicals, and even tent-revivalist preachers living in million-dollar mansions, flying around in personal Lear jets, and enjoying a lifestyle that’d cause their Holy Benefactor to spin in His grave, had He not already left it and flitted up to Heaven.
Our intelligence and ‘superiority over the animals’ doesn’t seem to have done us much good long-term. We continue to prey on each other. We seek out and exploit the weaker in society for our own gain. After all, riches don’t come from Heaven, they’re the result of one man (or one group) coining in the hard-earned gains of thousands, sometimes millions, of his fellows.
We are, in fact, our own worst enemies. Our self-centered greed, fueled by the power of our egos, prevents us from working out a future for the whole of mankind. Instead, we work only to further our own individual needs and desires. We may believe in climate change, despite the ravings of lunatic politicians and fossil-fuel wealth creators, but we bury our heads in the rapidly-heating sand and choose the latest Ipad rather than a solar panel. Filling the tank of our gas-guzzler produces cries of woe whenever prices rise, and the glee of affording that new 70-inch TV screen when they drop.
Meanwhile, the pastors, popes, and Imams cajole us into believing their god will make everything right and lift us up to his/her bosom when our life on earth is over.
We think we are intelligent, yet the majority of humankind still believes such gobbledygook, and is prepared to take often violent steps to not just perpetuate, but forcibly propagate these ancient, twisted, myths.
If the human race is the pinnacle of evolution, then “God help” evolution. It has nowhere to go but down. But then, neither it seems has the human race.
Though, in all probability, the egos of David Miscavige and his ilk probably wouldn’t allow them to agree.