Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Equality, Harmony, and other False God's

I had been channel surfing the other day when I came upon a gem of a show. It was called Taboo. It was aired on the National Geographic Channel or NGEO as it shows up on the T.V. Guide channel. The show covers different acts or actions that are considered quite normal in some places or communities, but generally considered unthinkable in another. This particular episode talked of the public killing of animals. The section of the show that caught my attention was a small goat having its throat cut across as its blood was spilled in sacrifice to the god Kali.

Long lines of devotees lined up behind a blood soaked shrine with all sorts of different treasures for sacrifice to Kali. Chickens, ducks, and goats seemed the most common sacrifice for the day and I caught myself wondering if Kali ever wished for a more diverse diet.

The show progressed to the annual killing of a load of pilot whales off the coast of a small island nation near Iceland and Norway likely settled by the Vikings. The whole town would drive a herd or pod of whales to the shore using their boats in unison and then slaughter the whales. The town, in turn, all gets a free share of whale meat in a place where natural resources are hard to come by.

The point of the story has nothing to do with the killing of animals publically for a god or otherwise. As I watched entranced in the story a college professor was interviewed just following the whales. Multiple interviews of people on both sides of the “issue” of the killing of animals were interviewed. This particular professor caught my attention for a twofold reason. One, because the majority of the “anti-killing” side of the argument were claiming or spoke around the issue that this act or these collect acts disturb the universal BALANCE of things. Second, this particular professor said that one of our biggest problems as a human race is that we are SPECIST. This is defined as a person who practices “speciesism,” which is defined as assigning different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species membership.

I decided to address this because it is idiotic and ignorant. It is a ridiculous premise and it scares me that a man educating our populous can so easily espouse this.

The idea is that, in this particular instance, we, as a race of humans, believe the whales as less than equal to us and this allows us to justify doing harm to the whales such as killing and eating them.

The professor said that until we can overcome this deficit and treat all animals as equals, we will suffer these wrongs to the planet.

This is where Masonry enters into the picture. It will take me a minute to get there, but let’s talk about the relevance of our philosophies in the presence of pure stupidity.

Many of the ancient mystical traditions, modern psychology, and some religions teach balance as a philosophy by which person can and should lead their lives. In the more ancient and more Gnostic traditions, this balance creates a unity with G-d, in Jungian terms it allows a glimpse at the collective conscious; all of which are laudable pursuits. The mental, spiritual, and physical benefits of a balanced life are even being recognized the staunch materialist who have difficulty refuting the medical evidence just by itself.

Regardless of the benefits, the antiquity of the teachings, and the number of groups teaching this path, it must be completely misunderstood for an idea such as speciesism to take hold.

Balanced does not mean equal. Let me type that again because it bears repeating, balanced does not mean equal.

I wish there was a way for me to express the long pause in writing, that I would have taken in a room full of college coeds and academic fundamentalist now screaming in pain and calling me everything but a person.

Let’s address the ignorance of the statement from a couple of levels because it so clearly illustrates the misunderstanding concerning a balanced life. First, we classify things as species because this is a way of recognizing DIFFERENCES. Yes, there are differences in things, people, places, and life. DIFFERENCES are not bad and recognizing that there are differences is not bad. We scientifically classed “species” so that we could quickly identify differences and similarities. Being balanced does NOT mean being the SAME.

Second, to be equal we must hold all other species to our standards or allow ourselves to degrade to theirs. So, the eagle of the air and the alligator of the swamp should be tried for their crimes of murder should they kill to eat if we believe the killing of anything is equal to the killing of a human and vice versa. Since it is clearly unrealistic to hold the beast of a field, air, or swamp to a human standard and condition, we, as recognized equals, should hold ourselves no higher than they and revert to their system as equals. We can not declare the beast an equal, allow for a violation of the law on an unequal basis because this is a distinct recognition of inequality.

Yet, it could be argued that we learn much from the natural BALANCE from observing nature. The predator is necessary for population control, the leaf necessary for soil and food for other species. All things are clearly connected, but not all things are equal.

This can be seen in simple action. The man seeking to live a balanced life does not seek an equal amount of evil to goodness, for every good deed he does not immediately seek to commit a wrong against his brother.

Today’s world stage seeks balance through equalization. There are a number of reasons for this, but some of those reasons include cowardice and laziness. To claim nothing is every truly right or wrong, to claim that morality is always relative, to claim that any definition of good, right, and god is a correct definition so as not to disparage any belief system, and to claim that equality is the same as balance are all children of the desire for harmony at the cost of Truth. It is easier not to offend than to take a stand. So, we like to convince ourselves that the truth can never be defined and that all things are equal, when in fact, they are not. The carbohydrate is not the equal to the protein in building muscle, yet both are necessary in a balanced diet. Harmony is not the equal to courage in the journey to the truth.

Courage is not absent from a Masonic journey to balance for reason. You do not stand the test of an instrument of torture for petty reasons, you do not journey from darkness to light without cause, and you do not put your trust in God without it being a necessity. The Truth is offensive to some. It always has been. It is why it has gone underground and is treated as a special treasure, an arc of our covenant.

The terrible thing about the aforementioned theories is they seem decent, likable, loving even. They are quieter than fundamentalism so they seem more socially acceptable. They do not hate so they seem passive. This isn’t so, they destroy. Courage, trust, faith, secrecy, and real balance are destroyed in their wake. Reason, logic, and philosophy are laid at the feet of false security and the god of false harmony.

Masonry remains a guidepost along this path. Real balance will always require discernment, courage, and the ability to declare something false, wrong, and maybe even destructive.


MR. X said...

Wow, just a week between posts?
Christmas has come early!

All chiding aside, I recognize the quality of your posts must demand a good deal of thought and reflection which takes its own time.

Your post sparked a memory of someone's response to PETA at one time, which accused them of lobbying for rights for animals that 98 per cent of humanity had yet to enjoy.

At the same time, I'll likely never join the Shrine because of my distaste for their creepy circus.
Love the little cars though.

Bro. Marchand
Golden Star Lodge #484

Anonymous said...

Now consider the other side of this. How many crimes against humanity have been perpetrated throughout the ages by men or groups of men who were “courageously” acting on “truth” and to do what was “right?”

Starting and ending with your own perspective and in the process, declaring it truth is not an act of courage. “Balance” on the other hand requires the often uncomfortable act of performing the magic on oneself of trying on a different perspective enough to see more expansively and perhaps even incorporate another way of thinking or for the adept, even holding more than one perspective at the same time. This is not to say we should not challenge ideas or question them. On the contrary, I would implore you to! Go an immerse yourself fully in them test them out and then evaluate. However, simply reducing the opposing view to a strawman caricature and then noisily tilting at it will not suffice. This is an old trick and most large scale human tragedy can be attributed to it.

Prescient Soldier said...

Your "editorial" omits any discussion on the value of the author's assertions. Your writing comes off with the pretentiousness of a college age child. You offer a counter idea (crimes against humanity), and then fail to relate it to the post. Meaning you believe that a simple and un-related piece of information suffices enough for you to question not the author's premise, but his very ability to develop a premise....see irony.

The only thing you convey clearly is that you disagree with the author, and that concepts like right, courage, and truth, are not real and therefore deserve your own "strawman caricature" by relating them to men who much like you make a mockery of their meaning. I "implore" you to specifically argue to the merits of the discusion.

Your criticism is that the author is a rigid thinker and therefore wrong. However, your counter argument of existentialist ramblings, fails to address a single premise in his post. I understand you thought your criticism was wise and open minded; and maybe you believe that wise and open minded are synonomous, they are not.

If you carefully examine your critique you will see that by "starting and ending with your own perspective and in the process, declaring it truth" is not an act of wisdom but hypocrisy.

The Relevant Mason said...

Great discussion. Prescient Soldier what an extremely well stated post. I would not wish to debate you in a traditional style forum that is for sure :). Very well spoken.

missimpetus said...