If we 21st Century pagans were to write our own book of “Good News” what would it contain?
For a start it would do no harm to look at the etymology of the word “pagan”. Because its origins explain much that has gone wrong with our world. It was a word of “us” over “them”. It was a word invented by a cocky cult to derogate any who did not bend to their world view and their will. And they had their own “Good News” which would indeed have been very good, did they ever mean a word of it.
And in today’s mostly godless world, how should we re-write those words of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John? Well there was nothing wrong with the words really, just with our human race in general. And in our lack of application of those words.
If we could have our Utopian dream, free of seemingly inevitable dystopian horror, what should we aim for?
I would not consign the likes of Mugabe and Gaddafi to the gas chamber or the firing squad (much as, arguably, they might deserve it) but I would rewrite the rules of our race (genetic and otherwise) to breed out such horrors.
I would not hunt and illegally execute bin Laden as we in the “civilized” West saw fit to do but I would aim to eradicate the conditions which lead to the atrocities of 9/11 and beyond in the first place.
It boils down to “hearts and minds” and, in the longer term, genetic engineering. And the eradication of poverty and the spreading of health. And freedom from pain, physical and psychic.
In the short term if the ex colonies feel aggrieved, well perhaps we should stop milking their oil and natural resources for our own benefit. And we certainly shouldn’t be selling them arms at vast profit to our rapacious manufacturers and at equally colossal detriment to their ethnically and otherwise cleansed populations.
But it is also a question of the physician healing himself, of glass houses, of smiting beams from our own eyes. Before smiting motes in theirs.
These are ghastly, horrible people but they are only human. They are merely 21st Century versions of William the Conqueror who wiped out the north of England. Are they worse that horrible Ghengis? And why is Alexander called “great”when he was merely a successful thug?
So the gospel we might preach could be one of practical change. For a start it might help if we ceased to glorify war and the military. It would also help if we ceased to allow one form of prejudice to be replaced by another in the guise of “correctness”, political or otherwise. There are some true pigs in this world and they should be named and shamed.
We should move away from the deification of competition and materialism and realize that economic growth does not equate with universal happiness. That “co-operation” and “sharing” might be words to replace concepts which have dominated our species since the day we were conceived in some muddy swamp or deep ocean smoker.
No one wants to live in crumbling sub-standard social housing (let alone on the streets) , no one wants a post code dependent health system. And no one deserves poverty, despite the outdated view, still held by many in our more brutal capitalist systems, that they deserve it because they don’t get off their arses and work.
No Mr Trump, the world does not work like that and it never has. Too little understanding is granted to the fortunate that their well being and the lack of it in others is often a matter of circumstance and pure random chance.
Right place and right time. Right idea at the right time, pursued admittedly with ruthless vigor.
I’m not looking for a socialist paradise, the very concept is oxymoronic. Well, just plain moronic really.
But I am looking for a modern gospel of a different sort. In the long term, philosophers such as those in the transhumanist movement reckon greed and general shitty venality can be bred out of us.
But in the meantime we should do our best to make words such as “kindness” and “decency” objects of greater veneration than “money” and “power”.
I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth; my bum in the butter if you insist on cruder language. Without that random lottery win, I doubt I would have had the drive to climb the greasy pole; I simply lacked the ambition. I too may have crawled in the gutter.
So yes, actually, I would like to expand and improve the welfare state and cut the salaries of its administrators. I would like to slash red tape and wasteful, stupid, computer says no bureaucracy. I remember reading a year or so ago of a Devon county Councillor who was paid £500,000 a year. What sort of idiocy allows that?
And I would like to simplify the tax system so drastically and dramatically that we could dispose of three quarters of the civil “servants” who live there.
Oh, and thanks very much but I would like to place basic utilities back in common ownership rather than let the provision of the basics of life be subject to big biznizz and highly paid sharks.
And then I would like, above all, to encourage and fund science. The sort of science which can make us better humans, which could let us escape our animal origins by letting us choose our behavior. Better behavior for all! Now there is a slogan. We really don’t have to let evolution continue its brutal and hateful domination.
Thus speaks the Gospel of the 21st Century Pagan.