"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences." ~ C.S. Lewis
I wish it was possible for someone to turn me upside down and shake out all the nonsense I still have in my head. It's been there since I was a kid. Sometimes I don't even know it's there until someone says something and I have no answer except a dumb one that was taught to me a long time ago.
The way things stand now, I'm having to remove all the silly stuff neuron by neuron, in hopes of replacing it with what I hope is the Truth (and yes, that's Truth with a capital T). I figure it'll take a long time. Like the rest of my life.
I'd say it took three years to figure this out: The worst sin of all is hubris--what the Bible calls pride. Hubris leads to splitting people into pure good and pure evil, neither of which exists, and good thing, too. Why? Because those who call themselves good (which is always "us") project evil onto others (which is always "them"). This projection is called scapegoating. Those who are scapegoated are then devalued (a fancy word meaning, "They're not people anymore"), yet at the same time they're seen as an exaggerated threat, one generally considered able to conquer the world, much like Brain from Pinky and the Brain. This makes it acceptable, indeed necessary, to murder them to remove "evil" from the world.
To quote from the fuzzy mind of George II, "they" are the "evil ones" who want to destroy us because we are "good" and they are "evil." And, of course, everyone in the world has to either be "for us or against us." That is childish, pitiful, and dangerous, which is exactly what I expect from a politician.
I am not astonished that our opponents on the other side of the world think the exact same thing about us.
That aforementioned second paragraph took about 1,000 days to figure out. That's pretty bad, I'd say. But you know what? I didn't learn it in grade school, or junior high, or college, or church. That doesn't say much for most schools or churches.
I didn't do it totally on my own, of course. No one does. There are lots of people, in the past and today, who have thought about such things. People from the Greeks to the Hebrews to English poets like John Milton to pop psychologists like M. Scott Peck to French Catholic philosophers like Rene' Girard. I've used all of them.
Mostly, I'd say, I'm just rediscovering ancient wisdom. For me, I hope, out with the bad and in with the good. Good old wine in new bottles. For the neocons, out with the good and in with the bad. Old poison in new bottles.
And, I hope, what makes wisdom, wisdom, is that it is always applicable to everyone.
Let's take those nitwitty twits known as neoconservatives. Their genealogy has been traced to the Democratic Party, to Leo Strauss, to the Jacobins of the French Revolution. (Incidentally, all three of those groups are leftist, which means the neoconservatives aren't conservative--they're leftists).
Can the neocons be traced even farther back? They sure can. They can be traced right back to the old blasphemy of "Man as God." Farther back, in the Western world, you end with the myth of Satan, whose sin was pride, who wanted to be God, and who thought murder and destruction was the way to do it.
People like Rush Limbaugh and William Kristol and Max Boot, and Paul Wolfowitz and David Frum and Donald Rumsfeld, who actually think we can invade cultures thousands of years older than ours, and by murder and mayhem, remake them into our image, are idolaters worshipping Man as God, ones who have more in common with the story of Satan than anything recognizable as "conservatism."
All of the listed men (and there are many more like them) are afflicted with hubris. Of course, none of them knows it, and wouldn't believe it if it was pointed out to them. That's the nature of hubris. Those afflicted with it never know it. Not until nemesis brings them down. Then sometimes they wake up.
All of them would be more appropriately called "neo-satans," like Hitler and Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot, all of whom wanted to remake Man and society in their images. How? Uh huh. Murder and destruction. Of course our neo-satans aren't in the same league as Stalin and Pol Pot. They're Dr. Evil Mini-Mees compared to them. Neo-Satan Mini-Mees.
Thomas Sowell mocks leftists who believe people can be social-engineered and shoveled around like gravel as "the Anointed." The Anointed (self-anointed, actually) always have a "Vision" of a better world. That's why he called one of his books, The Vision of the Anointed. The self-Anointed always want to design and implement a Brave New World, if only, darn it, Joe Six-Pack would realize just how intellectually and morally superior the Anointed are, and let them rule. Of course, Satan wanted to rule, too.
I'd say we're in a bit of pickle right now. The government in large part has been hijacked by a bunch of neo-satan Mini-Mees, who are trying their darnest to start World War III. That's not a good thing.
But, there is always hope. In the long run, hubris is always followed by nemesis. Our neo-satan Mini-Mees will collapse. There is no way around that for them. They don't know it, though, just the way they don't know that the Wrath of God, "live free, foreigners, or we murder you" mode the country is in is going to backfire on it. But they will, and it will, and soon enough.