The new cult-like religions have many of the characteristics of the old fire and brimstone ones: fervent zealots following a belief system coercing others to the cause, prominent global leaders, wondrous child prophets to berate and inspire elders, guilt, condemnation and ostracism for the questioners and deniers, as we all face the end of the world in a few years. What’s not to like?
Much activism tends to be based on blind faith rather than facts. Lives yearning for spirit and purpose have become dulled by the decline of influence of Judeo-Christian religions upon which our western democracy flourished. Over-indulgence in consumerism brought about by 28 years of economic growth has further contributed. Perhaps we just have it so good we have to make up “bad”, though a glance down the annals of history show a litany of other threatened ”catastrophes” that failed to eventuate.
No wonder groups like Extinction Rebellion gather together in thrall to the occasion and their own importance, chanting mantras while disrupting those more reasonable amongst us who have jobs to do. The media lap it up.
Though blame, guilt and condemnation abound, absent from prayer sheet of the new religions is the pathway to redemption and forgiveness. I would also add gratitude. Had the new zealots any knowledge of, or deference to history, tradition or scripture, humility would discern a wiser way that recognizes that “we all stumble many times” (James 3:2).
A quick overview of the pervasive messages emanating from activists, often funded by overseas interests, shows no end of extortionate financial demands, no credit for ameliorating efforts, and condemnation without a path to redemption.
As the climate change religion escalates globally, led by the Marxist head of the United Nations, the name changes to climate catastrophe to up the ante, $, alarm and capture. Of course we should take best measures to care for our environment, as we are. Guilt and condemnation directed at countries like Australia which invests heavily into renewables and employs intensive environmental measures to the detriment of our economy, can never win redemption and forgiveness, because of the absence of truth in (a) the extent of environmental efforts Australia takes; and (b) scandalous manipulation of research data by vested interests in the research community capitalising on the global warming financial gravy train. Only total sacrifice of the economy by closing all mining, agriculture and travel will satisfy the joyless, hungry gods of catastrophe. Shades of the devil’s command to “Jump down from the tower and be subject to me”. No option but totalitarian obedience! And no forgiveness!
Vegan activists of the animal rights religion assert their moral superiority by invading legitimate businesses and farms en masse to disrupt operations, steal animals and terrify people living and working there. Humanization of animals to them has resulted in valuing animals above people. Their right to consume a meat free diet is respected. Forceful imposition of their values on others is rampant as this joyless cult seeks to close down legitimate activities that ordinary people gather together to enjoy – horse and dog racing, conviviality around a barbecue, cattle and sheep farming, camp drafting. Redemption for “sinners” is only available to those willing to comply totally with the tenets. A lot of hate, but no compassion! No forgiveness!
The alleged sins of colonialism now gain high profile in the aboriginal industry, despite the original goal of Arthur Philip’s arrival in Australia 26 January 1788, to establish a settlement on the other side of the world where all people would be free and equal. Life for aborigines at the time was short and brutal, as it still tends to be in those remote communities hanging onto past traditions. We know from historical records that it was pretty terrible for soldiers and convicts as well. That Indigenous, settlers and immigrants have grown together to found a largely peaceful, advanced economy is a miracle owed largely to the original goals, British law transferred and the universality of the English language.
Guilt imposed for imperfect colonial implementation fail to acknowledge what has been achieved for, with, and by the original inhabitants. Investment of $35 billion annually in Indigenous interests means that 75% of them now experience life and work as most other Australians. Life span has increased by 50%; infant mortality and morbidity have been dramatically reduced; Indigenous natural speed, skill and capacity to entertain find profile, careers and financial returns in colonial sport, theatre, media, art, dance and politics. Land rights have been granted them to large swathes of Australia; and original inhabitants are acknowledged at every public function; Sorry day, NAIDOC, GARMA festivals; special bursaries afford fully paid educational opportunities that poor whites could only dream of; dedicated teachers and health professionals venture into communities to help educate and heal.
Where is the gratitude for the advances and privileges Indigenous can reap if it is their desire? A crescendo of hatred against colonial white patriarchal males does absolutely nothing for Indigenous progress. After apologies, efforts and redemptive payments made over decades, our Indigenous brothers and sisters are challenged to respond with the greatest gift in life – acceptance and forgiveness (No.12 of the Fourteen Teachings of the Buddha). Perhaps the constant rehashing, resentment and misunderstanding make it hard to forgive? Letting go is the prerequisite for moving forward. Rehashing hatred is a multiplier that promises no peace – for anyone.
Feminism and gender
In this country, women, men and other pronouns have equality under law, in politics, sport and business. Same sex marriage is a fait accompli, and gender can be self-determined where biology challenges clarity. Instead of celebration and gratitude for momentous social changes of acceptance, identity politics encourages victimhood and division, seeding hatred against the dominant white male patriarchy, whose sins are allegedly manifold. Nobody is perfect, especially it seems, you blokes.
It is nearly 100 years since my mother and her sister, Nelly and Rita Dean, challenged stereotypes in women’s sport with their stellar achievements in track, field, netball and hockey. They didn’t complain, just got on with it – and wrote the copy to show what they could achieve. Male patrons supported them in their endeavours. The public were entertained, as we are, today rejoicing in the magnificent athleticism of Elyse Perry, Ash Barty and Sam Kerr in cricket, tennis and soccer. As a nation we continue to evolve, if imperfectly.
Can we just move on in relative harmony? Dampen offence taking, “for the taking of offense is the mark of a fool” (Ecclesiastes 7:9). That does not mean condoning; it just means letting go, if only for the benefits of greater calm, better health and happiness. By all means raise issues for civilized debate; name wrongs; and seek resolution. That is how environmental and social change has been accomplished in the past, and can be in the future. Having named the wrong, raised the issue and sought resolution, be prepared to let go, move on and forgive those who express genuine sorrow, remorse and redemption. Like confession in the old religions, forgiveness is peace making.
My Maturity Model for decision-making clearly shows in visual form that to load responsibility and expectation diminishes choice. Truth is not present and continuing in this vein is unsustainable, leading to fragmentation and division of individuals and groups, with high social and economic costs.
Applying the MM to each of the topical issues – climate catastrophe, animal rights, colonialism, feminism and gender – we can see that blame, responsibility and expectation falls heavily on the “quiet Australians” who are busy going about the business of their life. It is surely time that the noisy evangelists of the new religions embraced truth (facts), showed more respect for others in their proselytizing and offered a pathway to forgiveness for those they believe have wronged.
We can practice in our own lives. Rehashing a wrong makes it hard to forgive and to do so we would have to relinquish power, resentment, disappointment and misunderstanding. We should not hurry to be offended, as we all stumble many times. Forgiveness does not mean we condone wrong, merely that in love we are prepared to let go and move on, remembering that “the greatest enemy in life is the self” (No. 1 of the Fourteen teachings of the Buddha).
Blessings to you all!