Victoria S. Hardy

Victoria S. Hardy

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Religion Is The Opium Of The People

I wonder what the United States will be like in 20 years, I often hear the lament that things never change, but changes are what we voted for and fortunately or unfortunately, what we will receive. Change always happens though, just a short review of the ruins left by societies past will testify to that fact, but it seems while we are in the midst of change, we can never see fully how it will manifest, I suppose that is why hindsight is 20/20.

Some cling to past decades as an example of when things were good, my mom is partial to the 40s, whereas for me, the 70s shine in that dreamy light. Of course, in those years we were both children, free from the responsibilities of the day-to-day challenges and mostly innocent concerning the harsh ways of the world.

I suppose many seek a united utopia, a place like heaven, but down here on earth. A place where all our needs are met, where order is kept and fear no longer exists, but literature and history have shown again and again that human beings are, apparently, incapable of that feat.

Literature and history have also shown that certain human beings will always desire power and control, while others appear rather lackadaisical in their approach towards living. In our society, one way is admired and respected, while the other is condemned and maligned. Therefore, we begin to understand that the difference is a problem, a problem that must be controlled.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” - This is one of the most famous quotes from Karl Marx, the author of The Communist Manifesto. It would seem the desire of those seeking power and control would be to eliminate the heart of a heartless world, the soul left in soulless conditions and bring the people to one idealistic standard - a utopia of sorts, but the thing about people is that what is a utopia for some, is pure hell for others.

For those who were chanting and craving change, change is what we will have, but change is not always good and sometimes the end result is unexpected. Our country has been fast tracking many changes in the last months, the lines in sand dissolving in the surf, as the arguments seem to hover around race, instead of issues.

We are being led towards what will certainly be a utopia for the few, but those that have eliminated our need for God and want us only to follow their reason for our salvation are leading us. We are putting not only our faith into their hands, but our earnings and our health, somehow we are trusting the government over our common sense, our understanding of the human condition and our vague remembrance of history.

I used the quote from Marx above because I am continuously amazed by the arguments about religion, when religion simply believes in a higher power and I’ve noticed a growing anger towards those with faith in the last years. I’ve often seen the above quote used in defense of the perceived evilness of faith, but now I am beginning to understand, we have had faith educated out of us and replaced with the faith of men in power – we have replaced one God with another.

The powers that be in the world don’t want us to understand the underlying miracle in which we live, because if we do understand, we have placed a God above them – we have offended them with our refusal to worship them. The reason utopias do not last is because once we understand man is not God, we become less willing to be manipulated and those in power will always see that as a threat.

I don’t know what the future holds for the United States in the next 20 years, but all I can say is - God help us.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Room 101

I guess we’re all afraid of Room 101 - for those of you who don’t know what Room 101 refers to, it was the place where the non-conformists, the questioners were taken in the novel 1984 to break their spirit. In Room 101 whatever frightens the most is used to convince the wayward thinking individual to conform and stop questioning, Room 101 is where the spirit and mind is broken.

In my youth, I carried around an unwritten list of my top 10 most traumatic events, at some points I even considered extending it to my top 20. On my list was the usual supply of death, beatings, divorces, injuries, abuse and I used that unwritten list as protection against future trauma, in much the same way a man will tattoo demons on his flesh to ward away evil spirits. I was convinced that as many times as I had been knocked down, I would always get back up and not just get back up, but rise stronger than before.

In the early days of psychiatry a myriad of torturous treatments were devised to aid in creating sound mental health - from dunking patients repeatedly in ice water, to removing parts of the brain. And I have often wondered if those inhumane trials were where Orwell gleaned his inspiration for Room 101.

The word alienist (which I find to be a darkly strange, yet appropriate word) means - A physician accepted by a court of law as an expert on the mental competence of principals or witnesses. And alienist Dr. Henry Aloysius Cotton decided in the early 1900s that the cause of mental illness was unseen infections in the body, with his cure being to remove the offending parts. He would begin simply enough with the teeth and tonsils, but if he found no improvement with the patients mental state he would move on to the sinuses or the stomach, cervix, spleen and colon. The mortality rate of Dr. Cotton’s cure to mental illness was about 45%, but of those who survived, many were miraculously cured. I wonder which lost organ snapped them back into conformity? Could it have been losing their colon or their stomach that broke their spirit enough to allow them to step out of Room 101?

For myself, I used to hold the medical community in high regard, although I am sure I was viewed as a difficult patient, I questioned, demanded and complained. I held the mistaken conclusion that I was in control and that my health and well-being was just as important to the physician, as it was too me. When they removed my ovaries, cervix and uterus, I thought nothing of it, although at 30 I was quite young to be looking at a lifetime of synthetic hormones. And I didn’t know it at the time, but later when they removed a large portion of my colon and my appendix, gluing a bag on my side to capture my waste, I had stepped into Room 101.

Although it is said the medical community has moved away from the archaic practices of the past, I hesitate to believe that after spending time in my own personal Room 101. I also find it interesting that those who profess to be the victim of alien abduction report strange medical procedures and the doctor who decides our level of sanity is referred to as an alienist. It seems someone in this great carnival has a dark sense of humor.

Unfortunately, after spending time in Room 101, we are never really free again; they demand we return for additional humiliations and modern ways to break the spirit and the mind. New tests must be administered and the loss of privacy is just happenstance as every orifice in probed and analyzed, while toxic chemicals are injected into the blood. We call this health maintenance these days, but I call it torture and it is a torture that costs us outrageous amounts in energy, spirit and cash.

I found that no list of previous traumas could protect me from the mindless brutality of Room 101, no physical pain before or since could compete with the agony of disembowelment, which interestingly enough is defined as: To remove the entrails from or To deprive of meaning or substance. And what I find even more frightening than what occurs in Room 101, is the fact that we both eagerly and blindly step into this room, trusting our torturers to lead us to salvation.