America: Land of the Backwards

Americans consider themselves good citizens when they posture at the world with moralistic but irrational and unnatural justifications. This was recently demonstrated with the controversy over Timothy McVeigh's execution and the spotlight it cast on the capital punishment policies of the United States. European countries, all of which have ceased killing prisoners, were unanimous in condemning the killing of McVeigh despite acknowledging the severity of his actions. In a powerful and utterly clear statement of Europe's position, the president of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly described Monday's execution as "sad, pathetic and wrong."

The European Union bans capital punishment and considers the practice barbaric and unfit for the civilized nations of Europe. Though perhaps unimportant on the surface, this judgment designates the U.S. as a country that lacks European thinking. This is further revealed by viewing the company that the U.S. keeps in their choice to execute prisoners. Along with the United States, the other countries most active in executions are China, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Cuba. That's noteworthy companionship considering that the U.S. prides itself on the claim that it is a world leader in the areas of human rights and freedom, an illusion that even frequently repeated propaganda cannot sustain.

In the list of countries employing capital punishment, there is a strong Eastern and especially Middle Eastern representation. The latter should be of no surprise to anyone who has studied the Bible, Talmud, or Koran. Throughout those texts are references to vengeance, killing, destruction, retaliation, and other grand declarations of incivility. Portending a great uprising, they decry their inferiority, helplessness, and hatred for good society while promising lasting revenge, masked in a benevolent, defensive presentation that serves as subterfuge for their stated intentions.

The Psychology of Revenge

The thirst for revenge and the joy received in observing the suffering of others is cultivated through the mentality of Middle Eastern religions. Consider what is expressed in this statement:

"What I was hoping for is that we could see some kind of 'I'm sorry,' but we didn't get anything like that. My emotions were that it was just a big relief. Just a big sigh came over my body and it felt real good." - Paul Howell -- father of bombing victim []

You will find similar thoughts by skimming through almost any section in the Middle Eastern holy texts and observing the infectious psychology of their authors. As an example from the Bible:

3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side:
4 and the Lord said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done with it."
5 To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity.
6 "Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the temple.
7 Then He said to them, "Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!" And they went out and killed in the city.
[New King James Bible, Ezekiel 9:3-7]

The Koran writes in the same vein about retribution against unbelievers who do not bow to its message:

Allah revealed His will to the angels, saying: 'I shall be with you. Give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, maim them in every limb!'
This We Punished them because they defied Allah and His apostle. He that defies Allah and His apostle shall be sternly punished. We said to them: 'Feel Our scourge. Hell-fire awaits the unbelievers.'
[The Koran, The Spoils]

The Talmud expresses similar sentiments, though more subtle with its heavy drape of morality, pity, and shame. These same psychological characteristics are found in Christianity as well, as it is only a liberal form of Judaism, i.e. Judaism for the masses so that even gentiles are permitted to serve the god of the Hebrews. Knowing the foundation of Christianity enlightens one about the reasons for its invention, but also makes it terribly embarrassing to observe Christian anti-Semites who take ignorance and contradiction to amazing extremes.

Gentle Manipulation

Moral psychology manifests itself with dishonest cleverness, deliberate misrepresentations, disregard for context, and general mendacity. In the case of McVeigh's execution, President George W. Bush stated that the execution was "the will of the American people." Since will implies an action, the lack of all action and the inability for the American people to enforce their will shows this claim to be false. Just as external deference is commonly used to evade responsibility in democratic systems, Middle Eastern religions use a similar tactic for evading real life and believing in an imaginary world ruled by supernatural forces. This type of thinking lays the groundwork for popular phrases such as "everything happens for a reason" which is a linguistic assertion that an external god condemns people to predestination, while at the same time making a psychological confession of fatalism and futility.

Despite marketing itself as the land of the (once) free, the United States consistently maintains one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world.

At the middle of last year, prisons and jails held 1,860,520 adults, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report. With an increase of 60,000 prisoners over the previous year, the United States may have matched or even surpassed Russia as the country with the highest rate of incarceration. [ABC News]

While jokes abound about prisoners doing work such as making license plates for the wage of only several dollars a day, the comparisons with the Russian gulag and the need to create a prison population should not go unnoticed. Nor should we overlook the coercive aspect of "justice" that conveniently either claims democratic consensus to avoid responsibility or revokes rights and kills prisoners to demonstrate its absolute power. That courts can say with a straight face that killing someone does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment will be seen as a failing of justified justice just as the past prescription of bloodletting is an embarrassment to modern medicine.

The Foundation of Spirituality

Throughout history, all healthy and nature-based civilizations have invented gods that are a people's companions, not their bullies, fathers, or jailers. Nature alone punishes those who do not heed the way of reality, while the moralistic notion of punishment is based on breaking a person's spirit and instigating feelings of helplessness. As such, it is a transparently coercive threat, never a noble way of living or a path to a meaningful future. The promise of punishment, whether put in the mouth of their gods or the pages of their holy texts, is only an overt admission that ideas are lacking and have been replaced by words that inspire fear and doubt.

Though the founding fathers of the United States came from Europe with European ideas, including a spiritual gnosticism that fell somewhere between deism, paganism, pantheism, and scientific rationalism, the U.S. is no longer a country where European ideas prosper. Though in places the physical landscape may be lush in contrast to the cultural void, the ideas which currently guide this country would be more naturally recognized in their parched desert homeland.

June 16, 2001