Succumbing to the tyranny of idols

Succumbing to the tyranny of idols: We are what we eat, drink, and do. We are what we think and feel. We are what we believe in. We are all this and more. Describing the collective of what we are in this way gives us a level of understanding. However, in a more fundamental way, we are that which we chose, or allow ourselves, to pay attention to.

To what do we give our highest or overarching attention? Another way to put it is, what is that which guides our choices, our decisions, that which pulls us towards itself. That which informs us and bends us to its will. This is a most important question as the answer to this question will show us what it is that we worship.

Succumbing to the tyranny of idols

“Succumbing to the tyranny of idols”

One might say that although one pays attention to many things, and to some things more than others, one may not necessarily be worshipping idols. Now, we know innately that we are born from goodness, truth and the creation that is our entire reality. If we do not regard truth, goodness, the sacredness of creation, of life and of reality as our highest principle, if we only do so when convenient or when in need of a ’get out of jail’ card, then we are very likely to be worshipping idols. This is not to say that we should not have mundane aspirations and goals, but these should be subsidiary and interpreted and acted upon within the context of our highest principle.

Technology is being developed to mediate our life experience. We interact with screens and electronic gadgets for most of our day. Speaking to somebody through the medium of a smart phone is not the same as face to face. Clinical psychologists will readily tell you that technology is dehumanising people and fragmenting our societies. Technology is taking us further and further away from reality and truth. We also prioritise technological solutions rather than natural ones in matters of health and wellbeing.

The politics of the western world are enemy-based and corrupt. Western political ideology is not about what is meaningful and purposeful, what is just and true, what is moral and ethical, what values life and family. It is about the other party being bad for the country and other nations being evil. It is about accumulating weapons to perpetrate forever wars. In wars everybody loses. Victory can only be found in peace. In my opinion wars are never about justice, but more about a cohort of psychopaths accumulating inordinate amounts of power and wealth.

We do not deserve anything but that for which we are prepared to sacrifice something that has value to us. The narcissistic need for constant and instant gratification is self-perpetrating. We are subjected to daily bombardment by technology mediated messaging. This has fragmented our attention. The dangerous result of this assault is that most of us are unable to exercise sufficient length, depth, or breadth of attention that would allow to see what is really going on in and around us. The widespread shallow and hysterical reactions on social media are evidence of this. Sound bites coming from political and corporate quarters are all we have an appetite for.

Succumbing to the tyranny of idols

“Succumbing to the tyranny of idols”

We mostly measure our success as human beings by the extent of our possessions and materialistic achievements. Our value systems reflect this. Corporate advertising encourages and rewards greed and selfish behaviour.

Although we claim to believe in God, it is not obvious that this is true. It seems to me that most people in western society do not abide by any moral or ethical code that is worth its salt. The religious hierarchies, by far and large, have not been exemplary and have not lived up to expectations. They appear to be as compromised at the political class.

How is it that there is so much mindlessness, so much greed, criminality and corruption, so much violence and unnecessary death and harm, so much chronic illness in children and adults alike, one war after another, so much destruction of the environment and decimation of other species? Why is there free and unbridled evil whichever way we look?

The temptation is to blame a variety of incarnate and disincarnate beings for the predicament we find ourselves in. Not so. It is our fault. All the things we offer our primary attention to, such as technology, possessions, consumerism, entitlement, amoral and unethical behaviour, infatuation with identity, greed, politics, enemies, self-gratification, corporate power, are the actual idols we worship. Protest as you may against this statement, it is nonetheless true. This is the fundamental reason why we are reaping evil rather than goodness.

Succumbing to the tyranny of idols

“Free yourself from tyranny – set your sights towards the highest Goodness of creation”

The thing about worshiping an idol is that it will predictably and inevitably become tyrannical, at which point we lose control and succumb to its purposes and tyranny. You will do so even if its demands are nonsensical and meaningless or even harmful to yourself or your loved ones.

We should pay attention to and worship that which has made humankind rather than that which humankind has made.

It is insane to  continue to give our loyalty and attention to that which causes us illness, harm, and even death, to that which destroys life-sustaining ecosystems, and to still expect the outcomes to be good.

We should all give our highest attention to the Goodness of creation, so that we can begin to “tilt the world towards heaven and away from hell” (Jordan B. Peterson).

This article was published in The Sunday Times of Malta on the 17th December 2023.

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