I try, at all times, to be an introspective person. Because of the kind of person I am – physically imposing and unabashedly forthright in expressing my opinion – I have a tendency to overwhelm other people in conversation. I don’t do this intentionally, it’s simply a byproduct of who I am. However, because of this fact I am particularly susceptible to a particularly pernicious type of confirmation bias, wherein people who disagree with me either don’t speak up because they’re intimidated, or are shouted into silence by the force of my response. My appeals to friends and colleagues to challenge me when I do this are often unheeded, and as a result I can get a false impression that people agree with me more often than they actually do. I constantly struggle to monitor my own behaviour and demeanour, particularly when I am defending a topic I am passionate about.
This kind of introspective self-criticism is, I think, a critical component of being an intellectually honest advocate of a position. The zeal with which I practice this behaviour on myself has, unfortunately, left me with little patience for hypocrisy. There is perhaps no greater font of hypocrisy in the world today than that which finds its home in St. Peter’s Basilica:
Pope Benedict XVI encouraged thousands of young people gathered for World Youth Day in Spain to avoid temptation and non-believers who think they are ‘god.’
“There are many that, believing they are god, gods, think they have no need for any roots or foundations other than themselves, they would like to decide for themselves what is true or isn’t, what is right and wrong, what’s just and unjust, decide who deserves to live and who can be sacrificed for other preferences, taking a step in the direction of chance, without a fixed path, allowing themselves to be taken by the pulse of each moment, these temptations are always there, it’s important not to succumb to them,” the Pope said during his first speech to the pilgrims.
“Taking a step in the direction of chance, without a fixed path, allowing themselves to be taken by the pulse of each moment, these temptations are always there, it’s important not to succumb to them.”
The kind of unbelievable hubris and lack of self-awareness it takes for a man who claims to speak directly for YahwAlladdha and issues edicts that are, by his own claim, infallible – for this kind of person to go around telling others not to succumb to the temptation to think that they are god is the most shocking and frankly ridiculous type of hypocrisy possible. Beyond simply being rank dishonesty and a complete failure to recognize one’s own faults, it is ethically disgusting for someone with as much power as the Pope has to use that pulpit to encourage people not to think for themselves.
But it doesn’t stop there:
[The Pope] said that the continent must take into account ethical considerations that look out for the common good and added that he understood the desperation felt because of today’s economic uncertainties. “The economy doesn’t function with market self-regulation, but needs an ethical rationale to work for mankind,” he told reporters traveling aboard the papal plane. “Man must be at the centre of the economy, and the economy cannot be measured only by maximisation of profit but rather according to the common good.”
Now it so happens that I agree with the Pope in this particular case – our financial system’s pursuit of profit at all costs must be tempered by a strong regulatory climate to ensure that the human beings that make up the economy are protected from exploitation. However, for someone who is the head of an organization that is guilty of some of the most egregious ethical violations in the history of civilization to advocate the importance of morality and care for human beings makes one’s head spin in a most unpleasant fashion. It would be like hearing Robert Mugabe (that greasy pig-fucker) opine on the importance of transparency in government – yeah he’s right, but completely unqualified to offer an opinion.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the massive protests over the amount that the Spanish government, already reeling from financial hardships of its own, has spent on bringing the Pope to Spain to say things that he could have simply put on his Twitter feed.
Perhaps most gallingly of all, to me personally at least, was this statement:
Benedict told them their decisions to dedicate their lives to their faith was a potent message in today’s increasingly secular world. “This is all the more important today when we see a certain eclipse of God taking place, a kind of amnesia which albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity,” he said. Benedict’s main priority as Pope has been to try to reawaken Christianity in places like Spain, a once staunchly Catholic country that has drifted far from its pious roots.
Humankind is, for the first time in our history, on the verge of throwing off the chains of superstition and fear that has been a millstone around our collective necks since we climbed down from the trees. Part of this burgeoning emancipation is the rejection of the boogie man of religious faith – the willing suspension of our critical faculties when some decrepit ‘holy man’ mutters some syllables about some bit of supernatural nonsense or other. Every time we have had the courage to pull the veil from our eyes and look at the world with vision unclouded by faith, we have been able to discover something new about phenomena that were previously consigned to the label of ‘mystery’. To be sure, not every such advancement has been positive, and we have made many mistakes. However, the solution to those mistakes is emphatically not to simply refuse to examine the world. To exhort mankind to value faith is to point out how comfortable and reassuring those chains were when we were manacled to the yoke of religion.
I am overjoyed that we are denying such ‘treasures’, and I hope you are too.
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