Back in the day, I attended church regularly. It came to a point where my younger brother and I were the only two people in the building who hadn't been saved. One Sunday, a bunch of people rose from their seats and came back to the last pew and surrounded my brother and pressured him into answering the call. After a few minutes, he stood up and walked up to the altar with them. I asked him later why he had done it.
He gave me a sheepish grin and said, "I panicked, man. Too much pressure."
Unsatisfied with one soul and emboldened by their success with my brother, they turned in unison and set their sights on me. I wish I could tell you that this never happened, but I can't. Convinced in their own self righteousness and rectitude, and determined to save my soul whether I wanted it or not, they started walking my way.
I wish I could say I didn't get up and walk out the back door, but that is exactly what I did. I wish I could say that the incident in question didn't turned me off to organized religion for years, but I'd be lying. The idea that they, no matter who they were or what their motivation was, were going to brow beat me into acting that I believed as they did whether I actually believed it or not, was a key moment in my journey to find meaning.
You see examples of this happening all over nowadays, and it is usually more violent and the people doing it are motivated a lot less by a willingness to save souls and a lot more by the desire to destroy those who don't echo their voices exactly.
I learned a powerful lesson back then that you can't browbeat people in acting like Jesus, my brother's forced conversion notwithstanding. It is a lesson that humanity has never fully learned. Tens of millions of people have died because of the failure to grasp the import of this lesson. At one time, the Church actually burned people for little more than a doctrinal difference or having a wart on their nose. Remember that our modern world was shaped by the Church threatening to burn Galileo for pointing out a easily provable scientific fact.
We, humanity, I mean, should have learned one simple fact long ago. You can not force people to believe the same way that you do. You can convince most with solid evidence of how your belief benefits their own understanding of the truth, you can force them to lie and pretend, or you can kill them.
Nowadays, it doesn't seem like we care too much that the first option is actually how things should work; it seems safe to say that we have become so enamored with our own virtue that many would rather destroy someone who cannot recognize just just how great they really are. It also seems true that they are more willing to go to outrageous lengths to prove to their fellow travelers that their own belief is greater than all others. If one person says, "Hey look, I'll knock out my own grandma out to prove how down I am," it wouldn't be five seconds before the next person says, "That's nothing; I'll pull her guts out and feed them to her!" The game finally ends when the first petitioner vomits at the sight and a third volunteers to eat the vomit.
There used be common ground. The late Tim Russert was an example of someone who could disagree with your politics then buy you a beer after the show. We don't have that shit anymore. Speaking your thoughts in public is getting increasingly dangerous because there are so many fucking flesh eating zombies masquerading as human beings, soulless ghouls who exist only to loudly disagree, gobble flesh, rut and defecate.
It is a fact that we are facing serious problems, and each group seems to only have one piece of the puzzle, but they all insist that their tiny sliver of truth is the only one that really matters, so much so, no one even pretends to understand for a second that maybe putting the pieces together might work a whole fucking lot better than holding up a single bloodied piece of the puzzle in one hand and a molotov cocktail in the other.
Where did all the common ground go? People, left to their devices, have come together, swapped ideas and goods and enhanced our life on this planet for thousands of years, and it suddenly disappears without a trace? There is only group capable of turning our commonality into a gaping canyon which reduces us all to a bunch of blathering idiots screaming for the death of everybody on the other side. It is the people who run this shit. People who are probably sipping mimosas and filling out their racing forms while watching the lunacy unfold beneath their safe perches and occasionally sending coded messages to their minions in the media and the halls of power.
Pretending that there are not real issues taking place in the inner cities all across our nation doesn't work, it never has, but neither does pretending that all the tragedy and violence in those places is brought in from the outside by the police. Politicians are the main culprits in this mess. They are paid good money to fix things, yet always seem to find a million reasons in fundraising dollars as to why they need more time. One side jealously guards its fiefdom like a medieval warlord and the other uses their frustrations as an excuse to retreat into their gated communities and washing their hands of the situation by pointing out all the feeble efforts they had made.
Either way, the problems are never solved, only exacerbated. And it doesn't help matters that we voters have become so addicted to the sugar coating that we have lost most of our teeth. And heaven help if someone tries to explain what kind of sacrifices are needed to actually fix things; we can't chew on those ideas anymore, we can only gum them to death.
Then there are also forces who contribute their own poison simply because they lack any real substance and hate anyone who possesses the virtue and character they themselves lack, social arsonists who love the flames and the smell of smoke, people who wreck trains for sexual pleasure. They hide behind the scenes, but leave their fingerprints and slime trails behind, evidenced by their efforts to destroy the family unit knowing full well, that the lack of two parent homes has been of one of the key factors in both the corrosion of the the inner cities and the weakening of this nation.
It should have been a relatively simple fix, put some programs in place that strengthen the family and figure out a way to offer hope to the hopeless. And it is something that everybody could have agreed upon, but they didn't. Instead, of all the name calling and finger pointing, how is it that we aren't looking for the one who made sure that the 10 commandments were stripped out of courthouses, or those, who in the name of religious freedom, made sure that there is no longer any vestige of essential meaning being taught in our schools. Run those two trails down and you'll find the true culprits.
Growing up, most of us had that one friend that you could trick into doing anything or fighting anybody by merely getting two of you together and going back and forth saying, "Yep, I heard that!I heard that!"
The people behind this mess have recruited an army out of our slower witted friends, and they are now employing them in an effort to destroy this country.
I know why it is still possible and necessary to love such people. We know that if someone attacked us, they would have our back no matter what. Yet, they are the ones who keep driving around in multicolored cars with crushed fenders and always making bad decisions based on impulse and partial knowledge. We should always want to help them. But there's never a need to be like them.