Opium of the People

Since very ancient times, before language and writing, the human being sought answers to life, it’s origins, it’s ending, it’s meaning.  Generation after generation, thoughts and ideas were passed on wrapped in wonder and fear at the same time.

Out of this soup of ideas and reflections beliefs were fashioned and formed, reformed and organized.  The process of codifying and the corresponding process of worship and response developed.  Religion had a beginning.

It is astounding how this process has gone on over the years of civilization and what humans have come up with as the facts they profess.  The myths of creation, homage, and salvation have been ingrained in the human psyche and are now thought of as fact – provable facts.  Interesting if it were not so sad.

A person’s belief system determines their vision and value structures for their lives.  That would be nice maybe, but look at all that has been done in the name of belief.  Torture, wars, beheadings, alienation in families, misuse of power, abuse in politics, and so much more – all in the name of religion – God.

Give me a break!  This is very sick stuff.  It seems to me that those who are labeled as atheist are better at understanding life and how to treat their fellow humans than those who claim a God.  Something is wrong here.  The believers are so insecure they do not want to face what they have created to compensate for their insecurity in life and questions they think must have some profound answer.  Questions like what is the meaning of life?  What is the purpose of life?  If they could only free themselves from such an insecure need for an answer, a need to have more than what is in the now, they might find life bountiful as it is, and meaning just in living.  Like children they often think there must be more.  They need a reward, a “cookie” for being good.  How very simple minded they are.  How sad.  Never growing to embrace the living of life for what it is.  Always having to create formulas and doctrines and payments to god for salvation, death and beyond, reward and punishment.  Humans can be so “dumb” if I may use the word.  They really can.

Karl Marx was right, though no one seems to want to give him credit since he carries so much other baggage.  Religion is the opium of the people.  So very often the people whether in politics or professional religious positions, so easily manipulate the masses for their personal gain.  Doesn’t take much of an historian to see how often this happens.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature,

the heart of a heartless world,

just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation.

It is the opium of the people.

“Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes”

Found on the internet, the following was posted as one of the best explanations of the meaning of the Marx quote listed above.

Religion means a “set of rules”, rules to follow in order to guarantee an afterlife. It’s used by the people in power to control the people who are not in power (the masses). It convinces them to accept and endure the suffering and injustices in this life because heaven awaits them. It prevented the masses from questioning and ultimately changing the current ways so the people who were in power could stay in power.

I think the biggest single idea to keep in mind when discussing Marx and religion (and his quote covers all religions not just Christianity), is that Marx was keen to point out all forms of alienation prevalent in the society of his time.

For Marx, religion alienated people from ownership of their life and actions because the most important position was not their own, or that of their local community, but that of the omnipotent and omniscient being worshipped each week in church.

The ‘good life’ (not your own life) is attainable by acceptance of the creed, which is to be swallowed unthinkingly like a drug.  What Marx was skeptical of was how most nation-states also had their own churches (Church of England, Protestantism, Catholicism), and that acceptance of their creed was the best way of fitting into that states social structure.  More commonly, your condition on Earth is nothing in relation to the eternal heaven promised once you’ve conveniently died and can’t get in the way of the existing powers.

Marx was a materialist and an atheist, the only thing that mattered for him was a critical reflection on, and informed action within the existing world. No metaphysics, no fantasies.  Anything that lay between a man and his really existing relations with his world, especially when peddled by those with a vested interest in distraction, needed to be exposed and fought against.

Maybe, just maybe this process of living is all that is.  And, what is wrong with that?  What kind of mind has a problem with life being just life?  Why all the insecurities about the unknown?  Maybe if that was accepted as fact, and not all the “created” facts of belief, people would use each moment as a precious gift, only here once and never to have it again.  Maybe the world would be more engaged in living for the beauty life gives and not recklessly trying to put a good resume together for a life after death.  But, lets be realistic.  Most people are just not advanced enough to be “post religion”.  Most still need their “Teddy Bear” in the sky for security and meaning.  How sad to believe in the unbelievable just to make it through life.

I recognize this is not an in-depth analysis of an eon long matter that humankind has pondered, just one person’s healthy approach to life.  It is what it is.  Nothing more.

Honestly, ponder what is it all about as fact and not fantasy?  What needs are you living with for finding meaning in life?  Why can’t you just be who you are as a gift for others and life in the now?  Why is there a need for reward, for more after death?

Be still – – – and Know

Your thoughts and comments are always welcomed.  Write a few words to share.

Take this opportunity to “teach” all of us who seek deeper truth in life.