As I read this report from the Chicago Tribune on children in Angola tortured as witches, I can’t help but feel my blood boil. It’s another case where I think war would be far more justified than in the places where it is happening.
Helena Kufumana makes a pathetic witch.
Far from exuding wickedness, the 13-year-old schoolgirl is nervous and shy. Her “101 Dalmatians” cartoon T-shirt is grubby and doesn’t fit. She swings her bare feet beneath her chair in the hyper way that all kids do. And she cries a lot. Especially about the torture.
Last month Helena was accused by her parents of sickening two of her nieces with evil spells. In retaliation, the bewildered girl says, one of her small hands was burned on a red-hot stove. Her meager possessions, including her clothes, were torched. She was choked. And finally, to destroy her reputation in the community, she was beaten in front of a large crowd. Her mother and elder sisters administered these punishments.
“They tell me that if I try to come home they will kill me,” sobbed Helena her tears spattering the floor of the church shelter where she has run for safety. “They say I’m cursed.”
The article claims that one of the causes people strongly suspect to be linked to this rise in sickening, violent child abuse is the spread of evangelical churches that cash in on superstition and have created an exorcism industry in the area, as well as in the Congo.
I’ve not thought it through very far, but you know, I am beginning to think that these religious nuts are eventually going to make themselves the target of a future war. I mean, the decent, kind-hearted, patient secular-humanists are going to finally give up on these bastards eventually.
The thing we should have learned by now is that the mass of people are basically simple-minded, but not quite evil. Simple-mindedness can be excused, and in fact must be excused… it’s simply the way most people are. Most people are too busy trying to put food on the table and trying to keep themselves in one piece, to worry about whether their religious beliefs are sane, whether their politics make sense, whether they are crazy to follow the herd.
But people who think about the state of the world, we’re given responsibility. We’re just as weak and fallible as everyone else, and often enough we know it. We bow out of saying things when people talk their ridiculous shit; we don’t knock people flat on their asses when they start problems that could hurt many people. We try to keep up hope that people in general are smart enough not to go along with crazy, evil shit… Not this time, we say to ourselves. Not after all we’ve learned… not this time, please.
And what do they do? Another porgrom. A genocide, again. Bloody again and again.
Eventually, I imagine we’re going to succumb to village logic. When someone’s dog birtes someone, we’re willing to let it go, as long as the owner smacks the dog. When the dog starts killing people, we kill the dog. And when the master tries to stop us, we do whatever it takes to get that dog dead. If I’m a villager and it means the difference between a dozen people dying, or a hundred people dying, or just that idiot and his dog, it’ll be the idiot’s problem, not mine.
Now, the transposition always follows. Does this mean war is necessary?
No, of course not. Absolutely not. Anyone who thinks that war is justified by this argument is crocked out of his head.
And the thing is, even smart, decent, responsible people get crocked out of their heads sometimes. They do it when they watch decades of crap happen, over and over. They do it when they see how absolutely pathetic it can be to hope people will wise up and get their shit together. It takes longer for them to get to that point, usually, but they do arrive there: they’re only human, after all.
And then what? What will they do? I first imagined that it’d be surgical, simple assassination strikes against people who run evangelical exorcism businesses, people who use the Bible for profit, people who tout religious texts in general for their own political or economic agendas. But I don’t know how successful that would be; eliminating the exorcists in Angola, and the snake handlers in America, and the psychic surgeons of the Phillippines, seems to me only to create more job openings for those who are greedy and desperate enough to lie to people for cash or for the power to force society to obey their wishesand goodness knows the world is full enough of those people.
Further, it’s a little hard to imagine people like myself, like those I am close friends with, stomaching the idea of using actual force against people like Jerry Falwell; it’s the kind of joke we love to make, but when push comes to shove I think we’d not really be willing to spill blood over it. Take the gay marriage issue: I know many people who make jokes about drowning/stabbing/cooking the Republicans who oppose it, but I don’t think I know anyone who’d actually do it. (Apologies for doubting your zeal, Adam, but I respect you all the more for it.) So I’m reticent to buy into a model in which direct force is used, in which an actual war is fought against these leeches and scum of the world.
Which makes me wonder what kind of war the reasonable people will resort to when the time comes. It will have to comethe nutcases, loonies, and maniacs are a group that seem to manage to replicate their insanity in others’ minds more quickly and fervently than us sane people, and they also seem to have a total inability to let the rest of us live in peace. But I do wonder what kind of war it could be that we, the relatively sane, will wage. Because voting carefully, acting locally, and doing our little bit doesn’t seem to be anywhere near enough to keep us free from far too much of being pushed around by these louts.
I’ll be thinking this over some, and maybe posting my ideas unless of course I think they warrant inclusion in my next novel. Hm. Now that’s a thought.
One more thought: I seem to have focused on certain forms of religion here, but there are things which I regard as religious belief of equally offensive nature, which are often called by other names. A lot of mainstream economics and politics fits my definition of wicked and evil religion. Anyone who is willing to see innocent people (including children) die for the protection of a patent or of incredible profits in a given market, is a sick and evil as someone who is willing to let children die because of a load of horseshit beliefs like that of witchcraft. Maybe that’s offensive to suits and to the superstitious alike. I don’t give a damn, because both enforce their ridiculous beliefs onto others at a price far too great to imagine they’re exacting only mere tolerance from us: they are asking far too much more, and we’re not going to continue giving it to them forever.