Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ritual & Money



1.

- Most people in the country still believe the government has their best interests at heart. What can we do?
- We can try to discredit the particular actions of the government, or we can try to discredit the government officials.
- Discrediting the government seems to be doing something. There are more and more people who understand the truth.
- What do they understand?
- The government is working for the sake of the rich.
- Do they understand why the government is doing this?
- No, I don't think they do.
- Do you?
- Money making is their game, they like playing it, and they are winning.
- Why do people want to play a game?
- We are a country of game players.
- Why do our leaders want to play a game for its own sake? Play at the cost of other parts of life?
- I don't know.
- Our government says they are acting on moral, religious principles. That they are themselves moral and religious people.
- That's their game. Playing with words. Saying anything that works. Propaganda.
- The words work, but consider whether also our leaders really are what they say they are.
- They are hypocrites. Their rules apply to other people's conduct, not their own.
- There is a fundamental religious practice just like that.
- Doing the opposite to what we say?
- Doing which is in opposition to saying, yes. A ritual begins out of fear. Repeated practice of the same actions produces reassurance through the calm gained in the repetition itself. The state of the world which provided the fear at the beginning the ritual is disregarded, any future disconcerting state of the world can be disregarded by return to ritual practice.
- Then the people who most insist on the practice of rules are the people most likely to disobey them.
- When the rules are the product of ritual.
- So you want people to understand that government officials are not merely hypocrites. But in fact they believe in their rules, their lies.
- Believe in the sense they know personally, in their own lives, that doing these things calms their fears and reassures them.
- But they don't believe their lies?
- They believe it is true that lying, in the practice of ritual, is positively good. That what they say is good they know through their own personal experience.
- We call our leaders ritualists. Where does that get us?
- Their ritual is making money. Would you agree?
- Yes.
- Would most people in the country agree?
- More and more.
- If our leaders are practicing the ritual of making money, and it makes them happy, we can't reasonably expect them to care about those who don't practice the same rituals?
- No.
- We can't reasonably expect them to tell the truth?
- Not unless they make a ritual out of telling the truth.
- Do they?
- Of course not.
- Have we gotten anywhere then?
- People think the government really is on their side. They buy into what the government is saying, they are persuaded, they are the victims of propaganda. Propaganda works with crowd behavior. Crowd behavior is set in motion by leaders, who use the focus of attention on them by large numbers to set the crowd in motion. The problem is, it is difficult to convince people their leaders are hypocrites. They don't appear to be.
- Yes.
- You would like to shift attention of the people away from particular words which express how the leaders relate to them, and towards what the leaders are doing among themselves: practicing the ritual of money making. The leaders aren't monsters betraying the people who have put their trust in them.
- No.
- And then what? Would people understand that their leaders' ritual of money making was hurting them now and would hurt them even more in the future?


2.

- Let's say most people know the government is not on their side. But they are game players too. Why shouldn't the government play for its own side, use what advantage it has to win?
- It's not fair.
- Does a stronger team weaken itself before the game to make it fair?
- No. But it obeys the rules.
- What rules are those, if you play the game for its own sake, make money for the sake of making more money? Do you mean love, sympathy, friendship, kindness?
- So if we want the government to stop playing a game against us, we ourselves will have to stop playing the game for itself. 
- That won't stop the government from doing anything. But when we do our jobs, ply our trades, not for their own sake, but for the sake of for love, sympathy, friendship, kindness, we'll know that what the government's doing is bad.
- And knowing, we'll be able to do something about it.


3.

- The President went on TV yesterday to complain that the time had come when something should be done about the institution of presidents personally ordering killings. He didn't seem to notice that he was the president who was personally ordering the killings. Apparently no one watching noticed either.
- There are more than a billion members of the Catholic Church.
- Yes. The President is a ritualist like a billion and more others in the world. The President, a former professor of constitutional law forgets there are supposed to be judges and juries that decide who gets killed.
- The President and the billion and more don't know what they are doing is wrong and can't understand why we believe they are wrong. We think they are wrong because they play the game for the sake of playing the game. But, correct me if I am wrong, when we play with them, play the game of "us against them", can we expect them ever to act in a way we can love, like, or sympathize with? And if we can't, our relation to them is like their relation to us? Only a game?
- It's not as bad as that. People we can only play games with are strangers. We each have one body and occupy one bit of space and have one mind to think about what's going on around that body and place. Some people and places are known, some aren't. We need only keep in mind that we don't want to give strangers the job of organizing our lives for us.