I see no good in having several lords: Let one alone be master, let one alone be king. ~ C Homer, Iliad, Book II, Lines 204ﾖ205.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the otherK ~ C Matthew 6:24
It’s time to ask yourself what you believe. ~ C Julian Glover as Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
It seems to me as if most of the citizens of the United States of America have stopped worshiping the god they claim to worship. Instead, they worship a bizarre and amorphous group of men and women we refer to as "The Government" or "The State", hereafter called by me Thestate (If you'd like, pronounce it so it rhymes with the Vampire Lestat.)
That’s right, we as a people worship Thestate as our god.
Don’t believe me?
Here are some ways in which either Thestate acts like a deity or we treat it like one. Now, I'm not going to pass judgement today and call all these things evil or inherently wrong. I'm merely reflecting on my beliefs and the customs in my country from a different viewpoint for a minute.
- We promise our loyalty to Thestate in a memorized prayer that we call the "Pledge of Allegiance."
- We sing hymns of praise to Thestate's infallibility and greatness in our national anthem and other patriotic songs.
- We have an "Independence" day where we perform fire rituals to Thestate. Often these rituals are accompanied by impassioned sermons lauding Thestate as well as group prayer (Pledge) and hymn singing.
- We court favor from Thestate for monies via his inspired welfare, grants, and tax credit systems.
- We pay tithes and offerings to appease Thestate throughout our lives. We make an "income tax" sacrifice to the great god Thestate for allowing us even to labor with our hands or our minds. We pay further oblation (sales tax) to Thestate for the blessing of purchasing goods using money that we have earned through our own labors. Yes, legion are the offerings we call "taxes." We offer up building permit taxes, a cigarette tax, capital gain taxes, income taxes (Federal, state, and sometimes city), gasoline and other fuel taxes, property taxes, telephone taxes, marriage license taxes, unemployment taxes, utility taxes, inheritance (death) taxes, and so many more. Perhaps we pay these offerings willingly as a way of showing our gratitude to Thestate for all he does for us. Possibly we offer these tithes in fear of Thestate's righteous wrath and jail time. Whatever the reason, we pay them and thereby at every step of our life we are reminded of our subservience to Thestate.
- We pray that Thestate will keep us from all harm physical, financial, and emotional. We rely on Thestate to sanctify (regulate and/or inspect) virtually every physical object with which we come in contact, from the cars we drive to the food we eat to the homes we live in, so that no harm may come upon us while we're using them. Only Thestate can protect us from the violent attacks of criminal miscreants, and so he must regulate the ownership of arms and have a monopoly on the use of force (gun control, ATF, TSA, police and other law-enforcement.) To protect our wallets Thestate must watch over and sanctify all financial transactions.(FDIC, SEC) To protect our weak and frail emotions Thestate must stop all persons who speak offensive or hurtful remarks (unless that speaker is a minority.) When such offensive talk is still bound to happen, Thestate forces it into "free speech zones" at events and requires disclaimers on recorded and broadcast media. We rely on Thestate's FCC to protect our children from violent, sexual, and crass media broadcasts.
- We have hope and faith that Thestate will bless and sustain us monetarily in our old age. Thestate already cares for the majority of elderly Americans. (fact #7) Increasing numbers of citizens are proclaiming their faith that Thestate will have financial control over the evening years of their lives.
- We participate in the periodic ritual we have termed "voting." By performing this ritual, we show our submission and acceptance that Thestate is the god that rules our life. Those who receive the most blessings from Thestate continue to practice this ritual in a way to ensure Thestate's mind doesn't sway from this protection. This is why it is political suicide for a perspective high priest of Thestate to even announce that he or she will petition Thestate for a decrease in financial blessings like Social Security.
- We have a great council of elders that champion Thestate (Congress, other elected officials) and dictate ongoing revelation from him. These paragons of virtue are much wiser than us lowly worshipers. We trust them to reveal commandments in all areas of life, from our entrance into the world to the fields of our labor to the manner in which we dispose of our bodies when we pass from this life.
- Thestate grants immortality to many of his extra-sanctified priests by setting aside days for their worship as well as their image on money.
- Thestate, in his infinite wisdom, has given us roads. If he had not, there is no way people would have found a way to travel or move freight. Nope. No way at all. None. Remember, we also pay monetary obeisance for the honor of purchasing state approved fuel for our chariots. We only allow adepts who have been anointed (licensed) by one Thestate's sanctioned temples of driving knowledge to operate vehicles upon our Thestate-given roads.
- Thestate tells us what is moral. We allow Thestate to define what a marriage is, and who can and can't be married. Thestate has revealed to us what intimate physical relations are to be socially correct, and which deserve imprisonment. It tells us which activities are acceptable, which can be paid for, and at which age we are mature enough to participate. Thestate decrees at what age we are mature enough to pick up a vice like smoking or drinking.
- Thestate has further removed the need for our own flawed internal moral compasses by inspiring and proscribing convoluted codes of conduct known as "ethics." What is right and what is wrong in virtually every profession is set down in the volumes of scripture we know as laws and regulations.
- We have faith that Thestate will cure our illnesses. Thestate determines which cures and treatments are allowable. Thestate also sends us revelation via funding for research. Thestate has provided (through revelatory mandate) care for everyone's aches and illnesses, regardless of our ability to provide this care for ourselves (ER access + Medicare, Medicaid, etc). And through the miracle of Obamacare, we all must now pay a Thestate-approved intermediary (Individual insurance mandate) to pay our medical dues. Through many programs both local and Federal, Thestate provides counselors and chemicals to lift the depressed. Those who have beliefs in and practice healing arts outside of Thestate's FDA doctrine are liable to receive Thestate's most holy punishment.
- All we need to know Thestate teaches us in public schools. In rare cases the state inspects, authorizes, and consecrates other houses of learning. So, private schools may be allowed to exist with only a modicum of ridicule and control. Those who seek knowledge in absurd, backward home schools are looked upon as heretics. Why wouldn't the parents want the children to bathe in Thestate's mighty doctrine?
- Knowing that all humans are not worthy of living in this worshiped land, we praise Thestate for preventing too many lowly infidel foreigners from corrupting our land. To accomplish this, Thestate maintains and sustains his restrictive and complicated immigration system. Due to our continued worship of Thestate, we are truly more worthy of living and laboring upon this sacred dirt than foreign-born dogs.
- Thestate is the only judge capable of deciding what life is, and which life is deserving of protection. Thestate sees and protects deserving animal species. Thestate also knows when a mass of cells stops being a "choice" and begins to be a human baby. We allow, no, we implore Thestate to define for us whether an unborn baby is ever anything but a human with rights. We pray and write and phone in to Thestate in hopes that our interaction will guide his gifted all-knowing mind to match our own, and thus new law scripture can be written.
- Thestate alone is capable of deciding who deserves to have life and liberty forcibly taken away. Thestate tells us what is self-defense. Thestate alone has the wisdom and strength to capture and punish murderers. Thestate knows when an adept deserves death after a trial. Thestate is so wise he even knows when a citizen deserves death without a trial. Thestate knows without error when foreign persons and powers are deserving of being cleansed from the earth via acts of war. We don't lose faith or revolt against Thestate when he kills 100,000 civilian men, women and children in a military action because we accept that Thestate knows when to make sacrifices for the greater good. When a citizen of Thestate questions the accidental killing of over 160 children through drone strikes in Afghanistan and elsewhere, he or she is righteously labeled as an unpatriotic heretic and terrorist sympathizing heathen.
- As our worship becomes more complete, so do the powers of the great god Thestate. We sacrifice to him more and more control over: who is capable of making decisions, what we can eat, where we can speak our minds, when we can work, why we send young men and women to die overseas, and how we live our lives.
After considering these points, consider this: Where is the god that has sway over the majority of your actions? In all likelihood, his head schemes in Washington DC and his toes wiggle in your local city council. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Atheists alike worship the government with equal fervor.
Here's the problem. Thestate is not a person. He is a collection of persons. Fallible persons with hopes, dreams, and schemes. Persons that are taken to lunch every day by special interest groups. Persons no better than you or me.
So what if you don't want Thestate to be your god? Do you march in protest? Do you stop giving it your tax money and soon go to jail? Do you even lend it your approval of existence by voting? Or do you simply relent and consent to meekly live your life worshiping a deeply flawed god?
I don't have the answer, but I think it's a question well worth asking.
Bryce Beattie [send him mail] is a programmer in Bountiful, Utah. His hobbies include beekeeping, firearms, writing (BryceABeattie.com), and reading. He believes in liberty, spending time with family, and being respectful to others.