Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Demons Among Us?

The Demons We Are Warned Against.

Demons walk among us.  They even hide among us.  They disguise themselves at times as friendly, or pitiful, creatures to ensnare us.  It takes constant vigilance to detect them and stern resolve not to fall for their blandishments. 

That is the meta-message of conservatives.  

Foremost among the demons to be feared is the black male criminal, essentially indistinguishable from any man of color from adolescence through elderly dotage.  

There are others, though.  The Queer. The Bitch.  The Lazy Poor.  The Intellectual.  The Irresponsible Young.  The Bureaucrat.  The Muslim. The Atheist.  The Prisoner.  The Illegal Immigrant.

The conservatives thinks of these as demons, because they have no purpose other than to cause destruction and damage to the social fabric.  There is no compromise to be made with them, because they are not just people with a different set of interests and needs.  Compromise with them is a compromise with evil, and a foolish mistake.  Have you lost your mind? 

The purpose of conservative discourse is to convince us that these demons are real and among us.  

But if the purpose of conservative discourse is to demonize, the purpose of liberal discourse is to humanize. 

The work of public ministry for liberal religion is to humanize our culture.  It is an infinite demand revealed to us by our history and a cause worthy of our lives' dedication. 

The remarkable turn of public opinion about marriage equality over the last 5 years shows the possibility.  That is the nation in motion, changing before our eyes, faster than we can imagine. We have a great opportunity now.  I believe that liberal religion can have the social impact on the nation in the near future that the evangelicals had in the 80's and 90's.

Humanizing the culture takes place on many levels.  

It is fighting the policies that flow from demonization: mass incarceration, punitive regulation of women's reproductive lives, cruel deprivations of the poor, foreign wars.  

It is challenging demonizations in daily life: the exclusions and aggressions. 

It is challenging demonization in our personal lives and in the terrain of our own thoughts.  It is building institutions for worship that inspire.


  

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

RevK comments
I agree with you 95%. There is real evil in the world, both ordinary people who do bad things and people without conscience who we must protect ourselves from. The latter is a very tiny fraction of the population, but one that when liberals don't take account of evil, ruins our credibility. Almost all people want to be in relationship and have compassion that can be evoked by others, but a lot of those people won't be open to us if our view of human nature seems naïve. Actually, too, I think you simplify conservatism. Take a look at The Righteous Mind, which has researched the value differences between political conservatives and liberals.

Anonymous said...

Omninescient comments

To RevK:

I believe that you are truly ignorant of "people without a conscience," better known as sociopaths. Sociopaths make up less than 1% of the population, and the grand majority of those who are psychopathic follow the dictates of society. There are a multitude of reasons for this, the most simple being convenience.

Also, the majority of crimes are caused by normal people. Our society is general tends to love blaming every single crime against humanity with mental disorders. This leaves people born with mental disorders, i.e. the grand majority of psychiatric patients, with a social stigma and ostracism that can never quite be eradicated.

Personally, I find the demonization of sociopaths sickening. Simply because they lack a powerful instinct that most people do not, our society constantly excommunicates them socially, if not physically. We do not treat anorexics, asexuals, or insomniacs in this fashion, so why must we do so with sociopaths?

Joel Monka said...

I was actually amused by this... you've been dehumanizing, demonizing conservatives with ludicrously over the top caricatures for some time now, and then call for others to fight demonization. Liberal, liberalize thyself!

Anonymous said...

Tom says, "I believe that liberal religion can have the social impact on the nation in the near future that the evangelicals had in the 80's and 90's."
I hope not. Why? Because I believe in the strict separation of church and state. Just as I disagree with the conservative Christians trying to influence legislation favorable to their beliefs, I disagree with liberal religionists acting in the same way. I have no desire to be told by any religion how to vote and what legislation to support. You can encourage, for example, aid to the poor and treating people right, but it's up to each individual on how to implement this; whether on a personal level or political. I've found a lot of similarities between certain UU's and certain evangelical Christians in the way they act; self-righteousness abounds, hidden behind a pronouncement of "righteous indignation" over some cause. I attend a UU church simply for support to formulate my own philosophy of life, not to conform to some group's "consensus" on what to believe and how to act.

Joel says, "Liberal, liberalize thyself!"
The meaning of liberal has changed. I always considered myself liberal, but I was shocked by the way it is used among UU's. I've found I have to call myself a classical liberal to get my point across. So called "Progressives" have commandeered the word liberal, because they don't want to be called what they really are: socialists. "The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label.... I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them."--Upton Sinclair (in letter to Norman Thomas)
--JMP

John A Arkansawyer said...

I'm not sure if I'm more of an FDR socialist or an LBJ socialist, but I sure do like this song about the devil.