If you stand back far enough, you can see how the entire structure of Western Civilization has
been a growth of a particular point of view about what mankind is. This view is notable for
its definition of man and of nature. That view has a fundamental and fatal flaw. It has rationalized man's misuse of nature itself and of other men and women in the name of an achievement that is merely measured in possessions and domination. In this worldview, competing for advantage justifies any act, any fabrication. Winning is tantamount to proof of superiority and success. Our monotheistic religions have embodied this mentality - indeed, they define themselves and their relationship with God in these terms. It is no wonder, then, that whatever institution we have created, it is infected with the same inherent weakness - a blind, up-down self-serving philosophy without limits, believing itself sanctioned by God – a philosophy that ultimately must result in overreaching and bringing ruin to those who live by it.
Put plainly, our philosophy is built upon taking, not giving. It inspires individuals, the "faithful", the patriotic and entire nations to assess their value in terms of what they can acquire over others and what they can enforce upon others (aka “our national interests”, “American exceptionalism” and destroying cultures to bring souls to Christ). Whether a political ideology, a religious ideology or a socio/economic ideology, our civilization has a peculiar devotion to the idea that there is only one right way, and we have it, you don't. This fanatic embrace of a worldview that condemns or diminishes all others places everything, even human life, second to its supremacy. A philosophy that does not include a concept of the person as a cherished part of the living experience we all share will use the individual as a dispensable unit. A philosophy that kills in order to sell something, to convert or to acquire ever greater wealth or hegemony, in the end will kill itself, for it does not know how to stop. It has no inherent universal and unifying values that protect or respect. It has no goal of peace, unity and devotion to the sanctity of life. It pretends to stand for the whole in order to subvert, co-opt, convert, conquer or simply purchase the loyalty of those who are different or non-believers.
The old philosophy separates rather than unifies. It thrives on division and conflict, without which it cannot justify its existence. Its fundamental energy, its core identity, is fear. Wherever it encounters harmony and unity, it introduces concepts of division and discord, but always clothed in a mantle of idealism sanctioned by God. Convinced of its inherent superiority and rightness, it spreads its entitlement aggressively.
It will devour everything, even itself, in its fanatic devotion to be dominant and to acquire. This is why we see a financial/political/military system that is so voracious it cannot prevent itself from devouring itself for more gain and advantage. It will delude itself with its conviction of its own inevitability and rightness just to keep the insane grasping going. In its madness,
the old philosophy cannot allow itself to see that its cleverness in the name of mindless expansion is placing its very success and existence in jeopardy. It has no internal sense of value or balance beyond amassing the material and relishing the heady success of crushing competition. It is amoral. There is not one higher sentiment in it.
Our civilization has accepted the market as its measurement of worth. But, the market has no heartbeat. The market does not express compassion or love or generosity or selflessness. It does not make friendships or encourage the higher values of life. It only serves itself within its material universe.
The mentality of the marketplace propels our monotheistic religions. Our monotheistic religions compete and go to war for dominance in the marketplace of souls. This is the most exalted and unquestioned rationale for conquering all other peoples and territories. Any philosophy that maintains: 1. There is but one God, and He belongs to us, not to you, and 2. There is but one book of His Holy Word, and He gave it to us, not to you, and 3. There is but one Son/Prophet sent by God, and He sent Him to us, not to you, is a philosophy that exists only to dominate and monopolize, never to share, much less to give.
Our three monotheistic religions express the alpha and omega of the self-deception within the old philosophy. They each claim the highest possible authority for their exclusive and absolute right to be the only righteous and worthy path for mankind. At the same time, they insist they tolerate those who believe differently, but all the while working with all possible means to undermine all others and prove superiority over them. They blithely incorporate and proudly preach the absurdity that an all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful creator selected them, and only them, to go and destroy all heathen or infidel cultures in order to “save” them from the eternal agonies of damnation, which that same wonderful creator created for them. One can only pity the poor unfortunates living in remote places who never had the chance to benefit from the “good word” delivered by the missionaries sent out and financed to give them a chance to accept the “one way to God.”
If you have never seen what happens to a family and a community in which a missionary has successfully converted a family member, you do not know what the real definition of terrorism is. That convert, fired with all the fanaticism of his/her conversion to the “Truth”, turns on their family members, trying desperately to convince them they are doing “the devil’s work” by remaining true to their ancient spiritual traditions. Imagine the despair of parents, siblings or a spouse, when their dearest relative or life partner announces they no longer believe as the family has always believed, but has chosen the “one true path” and is leaving them to the fires of hell.
That family is destroyed internally. Its harmony and happiness are ended. The continuity of the family’s spiritual traditions is ruined. Wherever a monotheistic religion has gone, it has destroyed cultures and human lives.
By contrast, one can look to the ancient religion of India. Indians had no desire to spread their spiritual traditions outside of India. Wherever the trading ships of India landed, they took pains to keep their religious practices to themselves. They would be horrified if anyone sought to learn of their spiritual path, much less convert to it. They regarded their religion as possible only for those born to it in India. The Sanatana Dharma or ancient spiritual philosophy and practices of India took hold in other lands (hence, “Indo-China”) only because the indigenous people spied upon the Indians as they worshipped, or, emissaries returned with knowledge they gained while visiting India.
The great civilization of Angor Wat in Cambodia was ruled by kings who took Indian names, built replicas of Indian temples and worshipped Indian deities – but not one of those kings came from India or converted. It was a case of imitation, not proselytization.
Gandhi was disowned by his own family because he left India to live in South Africa. Brahmins – the priestly caste of India – were enjoined by their religion to never leave Mother India.
It is difficult to imagine a sharper contrast than the one between the monotheistic aggressive absolutism of the Western civilization and the in-turning universality of Indian spiritual philosophy.
The British colonialists were fond of saying that the indigenous peoples they conquered were “where England was 600 years ago.”
With this easy condescension, the old philosophy justifies conquest and aggressive converting so easily. Once the idea is embraced that God is your exclusive property, the greatest favor you can do for anyone is to take away their culture and belief system and replace it with your “one true way.”
The colonial powers used Christianity to control the populations of the conquered lands. The only way to rule over a people vastly outnumbering the invaders is by convincing them of their inferiority. The Christian clergy are adept at this. It is their entire method of operation. They were welcomed by the indigenous peoples who had never met a monotheist determined to convert them. Once inside the home, the Christian would gain permission to leave an image of Christ or Mary on the family altar. Out of respect for the visitor, the family would agree. Soon thereafter, a miraculous boon would happen for that family, usually in the form of money, or the gift of a much needed tool or machine. The Christian would make sure all credit went to the arrival in the home of Christ or Mary, of course. In this insidious way, doubts would be sown in the family about the power of their traditional deities and ways of worship.
Offers would be made to the family of scholarships for their child to the superior western schools, depending, of course, upon accepting Christ, or Bible study, or regular church attendance, etc.
Little children were treated to dramas that impressed them deeply. For example, a school bus full of little ones would suddenly have an engine problem. The nun overseeing the group would be inspired to say, “Let’s pray to Ganesha to see if He can start the engine.” Little heads would bow and the good sister would intone a fervent prayer to the most popular deity in India, the elephant-headed one. When the driver could not get the engine to start, the nun would suggest, “Let’s pray to Lord Jesus and see if He will help us.” Little heads bowed again and this time, the nun’s fervent prayer was quickly answered by the roar of the school bus engine. “Let’s all thank Jesus for helping us today,” the nun would cheer. And little hearts would be thrilled at the miracle Jesus had provided them that day. Ganesha would soon be regarded as weak and not worth praying to.
If the reader thinks this example is extreme or rare, I assure it is not. It was only a few years ago that the Pope publicly acknowledged that the Church practiced kidnapping infants and children in Third World countries to raise them as Catholics. He promised that the policy had been terminated. This assurance was forthcoming only after the beginning of the 21st century!
When I was 16, I asked a good friend, also 16, who had become president of the local chapter of the Young Life organization, “What about the people living in remote places who never get to hear about Christ? Will they go to hell?” His answer shocked me, for he was a good person whom I admired. “They had their chance.”
I knew then what the ideological mind is like.
In the Orient, the ideal way to live is to perform good works when no one can see you or ever know that you were the one who provided the assistance, cleaned up the mess, made the donation, etc. In the West, good works and good deeds are part of a strategy of conversion and "winning". Usually, the uneducated, unsophisticated and terribly poor indigenous people are the easiest targets for missionaries. It is common for hundreds to be brought back into their traditional religious way of life by concerned native religious leaders after the Christians have purchased their souls with their bribes and promises. The fresh converts didn't understand what they were doing when they accepted the Missionaries' generous deal. All they knew was they were poor, and, after all, the West is so wealthy - a point easily made by many Westerners to prove that God favors the Christian "One Way" over all others.
This core belief in the exceptionalism and God-given supremacy of Western Civilization is a self-serving rationale that has locked the West into a mind-numbing arrogance that leaves anger, fear and distrust in its wake. After 9/11, several articles appeared attempting to answer the question, "Why do they hate us?" The answer quickly arrived at was as self-serving as usual: "They are jealous of our success."
But asking the question began a positive process that is uncovering the answer. The truth is uncomfortable, especially to an entire civilization that believes it is chosen by God to dominate and dictate and moralize and convert all non-believers. It is humbling to realize that those simple, unsophisticated, backward people regard us as children once they are exposed to us and our attitudes and strategies. It is incomprehensible to them that any human being would be so ignorant of the values that support life and embrace spirit in whatever form it takes. But the West can and does educate them in our views by our example and by our propensity for deception to reach our goals.
End of Part Three: Western Civilization: Death and Birth