Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The Gospel According to Fox
My friend Carole reminds me nearly every day that, in the interests of preserving my sanity and humanity, I should stop watching cable news shows.
She is undoubtedly right--and yet some inner core of masochism seems to draw me irresistibly to the media's ceaseless reports of human greed, cowardice, cruelty, stupidity. Why am I so fascinated by these stories that demean and denigrate the species into which I was born and from which, like it or not, I cannot escape alive?
In truth, we humans must all possess a deep need to cause or experience pain--vicariously, if possible--but sometimes (if our lives have grown too quotidian), in actual flesh and blood.
God, we love scary movies, don't we? And, though we protest piously, we would probably cream our jeans if we could witness a hanging or a beheading--perhaps even wield the ax. How excruciatingly, orgasmically awful!
When I was younger, I used to believe that this sado-masochism--this passion for inflicting and/or receiving pain--was a necessary corollary of our sentience--our unique intelligence and brain-power: we could not fully "know" and appreciate the meaning of our humanity unless either our own life or the life of an observable "other" was in some way compromised, threatened or tormented.
Now, though, I think that idea is mostly bullshit.
Because all the cable news evidence suggests that we are NOT a brainy and intelligent species. On the contrary, the daily reportage on CNN and Fox demonstrates that we are quite simply NUTS! We are barbarous and bloodthirsty and, above all, resolutely and unabashedly stupid.
No, it now seems to me that we do not want to know the truth or appreciate the "meaning of life." I can no longer maintain that a yearning for expanded consciousness is why we kick the shit out of other guys. Nor is it the reason that we repeatedly sabotage our own happiness.
I've come to believe instead that we want to NOT KNOW, that we fear our consciousness, that we reject our humanity. And so, in order to avoid greater sentience, we deliberately short-circuit our brains by behaving like primitives--by overriding reason with irrational, emotional, mindless mystification and willful insanity.
The proof is on the news channels daily. After all, if we really wanted to expand our consciousness and thus become more fully human, why in the world would we persist (for example) in engaging in the following humanity-destroying behaviors:
--espousing religions that rely on emotion, fear and fantasy to justify intolerance, power-mongering and hatred of unbelievers;
--advocating legal oppression or suppression of freely-chosen behaviors that harm no one (other, perhaps, than the person choosing this behavior);
--persecuting or exploiting rather than cooperating with other human beings who "differ" from us in some way that they have not chosen.
Etc., etc., etc.
At the risk of sounding like a modern-day Voltaire, I condemn, above all, religions, which--even more than tyrannical political ideologies or regimes--so often serve to justify and SANCTIFY the very mystification and willful insanity I denounced earlier. Such religions are most especially heinous because, from time immemorial, they have stultified and demeaned that characteristic which alone makes us truly human: conscious intelligence. More often than not, alas, religions make us feel good about conducting ourselves like stupid, savage assholes. Jesus!
Accordingly, it's probably fair to say that we deserve the loathsomeness of Fox News. Carole wins, though: for tonight, at least, I'm turning the damned stuff off.