Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Personal gods

I had an email from a friend today who read my last posting. He agreed with most of it, but added that most of us have other Gods apart from “the” god (the one who doesn’t exist).

Back in my more gullible “born again” Christian days, we did recognise these other Gods. The chief “gods” were money, food and self. Because these gods were not the true god who we worshipped, we called them false gods. In fact, they are not false at all, and very real.

We have all seen the damage being caused by the worship of money and the current despair that is bringing upon the world. By the way, many people seem to think that the Bible says “money is the root of all evil”. Actually it doesn’t. What it actually says is that “THE LOVE of money is the root of all evil”. This puts a completely different slant on things. Money itself is neutral; it can neither be good or evil. Its how we use it that is the problem, as well as what our attitude is towards it. Are you using money to fund gun running to terrorist groups, or making donations to your local children’s hospice? You get my drift............ It also becomes a problem when we forget that money is actually a means to an end, and not the end in itself. Even so, people can be forgiven for hording their filthy lucre in the present crisis.

We see the results all around us of the “sin” of gluttony. Everywhere you look, you see people impersonating hippos. It’s just too easy to put on loads of weight and become a walking marshmallow with all the cheap, but very tasty, junk food which is all around. Obesity is one of the biggest killers at work in the west today, and kills far more people than, road accidents, wars, acts of terrorism etc…..It also seems so wrong to be switching on the television and seeing so many programmes devoted to food while there are so many people dying of starvation in the world. When I was a child at school, fat kids got made fun of. I guess the reason was because they were relatively rare as compared to today, and so really stood out. The really fat ones which I remember are now dead. Also, while it is no doubt a good thing to work out at the Gym, if we are going to keep in shape then we must eat sensibly. We are all on a diet; it’s just that rather a lot of us are on the wrong diet. Its also an interesting fact that in order to burn off one ounce of fat, you have to, on average, walk 16 miles, so don’t kid yourself that exercise is the whole answer because it isn’t.

Finally there’s self. Just plain selfishness. We can be selfish in many ways, some obvious, and some not so obvious. I am not really bothered about the selfishness which wants to improve one’s lot in life. We all have to have a degree of selfishness in order to survive; otherwise everyone just walks all over us. The kind of selfishness which I find so heinous is the kind where other people are just not considered. Where people call “a spade a spade” without any regard for the feelings of others. Probably the most extreme example of selfishness in living memory was exemplified in the life of the Chinese Leader, Mao Tse-tung. In order to achieve his own selfish ambitions he caused the deaths of some 75 million of his own countrymen, not to mention personally congratulating Pol Pot after the "Year Zero" killing fields massacres and enslaving a whole nation. Indeed, Mao's personal philosophy was that no one else outside of the self matters. For anyone interested in the life of this tyrant, I recommend Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's book "Mao the Unknown Story" published by Jonathan Cape. In fact, just about all forms of criminal activity spring from selfishness of one kind or another. We all, whether we like it or not, have a duty of care to those around us. It starts in our own immediate families and then spreads outwards to the rest of society – and the world. Am I my brother’s keeper???? – Yes you are, and your sisters' as well.

Go in peace.

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