Sunday, June 7, 2009
The Unraveling Thread
On pins and needles. A house built on sand. One unraveling thread. All old phrases meant to imply uncertainty with pending disastrous consequences. What if one's entire future were dependent on maintaining one secret- a secret so portentous that, if revealed, a person's psychological stability would be shattered?
A spy, a murderer, an escapee from prison surely lives on pins and needles each day, not knowing if today is the day that the thread unravels. How miserable. Such insecurity must have deep psychological consequences.
I'm thinking of that queer knot of people who call themselves fundamentalist christians. Their house is built on sand- sand that has been shifting rather quickly of late. Sadly, however,they're stuck. Their entire identity sits precariously upon a shifting, eroding sand dune at water's edge. The wind and the waves will eventually wear away all that does not conform to their natural ebb and flow.
The fundamentalist christian is stuck there on that sand dune with wind and waves marching ever onward like nature's soldiers. Their entire existence rests on a most ancient collection, a dossier of tales, myths and legends written down some 4000 years ago by scribes who themselves lived in a magical world of spirits, danger, bigotry and wrath. Tales of a wandering tribe of nomads-little more than a band of pillaging marauders, who, like so many people before then, claimed that the Great Spirit of the Sky guided and protected them. They killed, plundered, raped and smote their enemy in the name of their god. They committed wholesale genocide and claimed that the Sky Spirit told them to do so.
The odd clutch of people who believe that that collection is 'of God' justify their own modern-day smiting, vengeance and bigotry by claiming that the ancient dossier, the one linked to genocide, requires such actions, such attitudes of them.
The scientist is Satan himself. The scientist has been unlocking long-hidden secrets. The scientist is dangerous. The scientist is tugging at the thread; some has already unraveled. Science must be demonized lest the ruse, the sham be revealed.
It is difficult for me to imagine a 21st century American lifestyle based on the thoughts, actions and beliefs of a small, ignorant, punitive and marauding band of nomads who lived in a world of magic, mystery and spirits.
No doubt the psychology associated with all of this must be complex and convoluted. Daily life so enmeshed must be turbulent. 'Turbulent' is the only word I can find that might simulate daily existence for these people. It clearly must be extraordinarily uncomfortable to live in this democracy, this bastion of freedom, this political system- specifically formed to shield its citizens from the ravages of the intolerance chronicled by centuries of religious wars, religious hatred, religious tests and religious inquisition.
Yet, it may be comforting to continually both parochialize and incant. Not only that, but to become self-righteous to the point of delusion. How else could they survive when the winds and waters edge ever-more close to their lair, threatening their very being?
Righteousness, parochialism and incantation- just as the nomads of that desert many thousands of years ago.