These are words that I quite often hear.
First off, let me admit to you, that I occasionally watch the Dr. Phil show. And I still occasionally watch the odd daytime courtroom show, such as Judge Judy or The Peoples Court. I prefaced that, as I have previously published a post condemning the whole of the ilk that is reality TV.
And being the human that I am, I completely forget about the Dr.Phil show (that is, until I caught myself watching it, and felt like a dirty hypocrite).
Well, shit happens. I still watch the occasional Dr.Phil episode, and the odd court show. They both give me a laugh occasionally, and they both serve to pass the time. And I do think that Dr. Phil means well, in what he does.
Sure, he is technically unlicensed. Sure, he makes boatloads of cash, in the process of his “helping” people. But much of the time, I would much rather many tune him in, then Honey Boo Boo, or any of that other crap. If viewing an episode is the push that someone needs to leave an abusive relationship, or another bad situation, then the show has already done more good then all of the shows in the “Duck” series combined.
Agree, disagree, whatever. That is irrelevant to the topic.
The topic that is, swearing on ones divine entity to show truthfulness .
I bring up both the Dr Phil Show and the court shows, because there are many times on both shows, where I have seen people invoke the almighty, to plead their case. They are almost all the same, they swear until the very end that they are telling the truth. But the VAST majority of the time, if there is a way of fact checking their claims or stories, they are exposed as liars.
And this is not just on the dramas on my TV. I have (and you probably have) seen it elsewhere to. Even people in my life in the past, have invoked the “creator”, to unsuccessfully cover their bullshit.
In fact, for me, its become a red flag. Whenever I hear it, I automatically think “HA!”. And most of the time, I am right.
This action used to repulse me, tick me off to no end.
I used to be dumbfounded as to how people could bastardize something they held so dearly as their faith in god, just to cover their asses. Yes, this was long before I joined the online forum community, and was otherwise “educated” as to what many Christians are in REALITY (as opposed to how I pictured them in my mind).
But even after I had come to terms with reality (many Christians are about as Christ-like as I am molecularly similar to the keyboard that this is being typed on), it still bugged me. But then it occurred to me, that I should not really be angry. On the contrary, I should be GLAD.
And that I should be hoping that MORE of this happens.
Some may be asking themselves “WTF?!”.
Well, to go back to earlier in this entry, after hearing “I swear to God that I am telling the truth!” (or some variant of that speech), it eventually grew hallow. Instead of drawing a reaction of shock (caused by the disrespect and misuse of something so “sacred”), it drew no reaction. Actually, that is wrong. The reaction that was/is invoked is, automatic skepticism.
The more that people abuse the silly ideals that many in the general public see as sacred, the more healthy skepticism that they will form towards such ideals.
If there is 2 people that hit the nail DIRECTLY on the head, it would be George Carlin and Marilyn Manson.
Both of them have used their respective platforms in the media to spread a healthy dose of reason and skepticism, in a world full of bullshit (“It’s all bullshit, folks! And its bad for ya” – George Carlin). And neither are/were afraid to show their disdain towards such “sacred” subjects as patriotism and religion (though Manson goes a step further, in building his entire persona around mocking the beauty and celebrity obsessed culture of the modern era).
While Carlin used the power of the English language to demonstrate his point, Manson became well known for going further then that. Think, wiping his ass with the American flag and ripping up the bible at his concerts.
When I was a younger Manson fan (about midway though high school), I didn’t understand the rituals. I didn’t even really understand most of the music, truth be told. But what I did love was the free and rebellious nature of both the music and the artist. And him tearing up the bible? That was just the sweet icing that nicely topped off the cake.
But I am older now. And while I have lost the immature reasonings I once had for listening to the music (rebellion from my parents), I have not lost interest in Manson as an artist, nor his music. Instead, I came to understand that there was more to the show, then just the shock value.
But most importantly to this piece, was the understanding in terms of the acts of seemingly “defacing” an American flag, and destroying a bible. The message there, being that neither are anything special.
The bible may be a religious text, but above all, its just a book. Just like Mobey Dick, or Harry Potter.
And as for the American flag, same idea. It may adorn the stars and stripes of the worlds biggest superpower, but at its core, its just a piece of cloth. No different then a tea towel or a wash cloth.
The only significance that we see in the objects, is the significance that we put on them.
When it comes to the dangers of blind patriotism, I once again reference George Carlin .
When it comes to how the antics of Marilyn Manson and the comedy of George Carlin tie into the misuse of “I swear to God!”, its all about trust. Its all about ideals, that we all by default, are taught by our culture to never question. The biggest 2 examples that come to mind (and also 2 regularly eluded to by both Carlin and Manson), are religion and patriotism.
Part of viewing the 2 ideals as “unquestionable”, is having figures associated within the 2 ideals considered in the same way (unquestionable). But the bigger problem, is the trust and respect that is automatically granted toward such individuals. Even without any prior knowledge of the individuals that would be required in granting the trust in almost any other situation, this is circumvented JUST because of the ideology this person is associated with.
While there are hundreds, thousands, MILLIONS of examples of how this trust has been (and is regularly) violated and abused by figures within the various military and religious hierarchy’s in the world, that is not really the direction I want to go with this piece.
All of the above problems, boil down to people putting blind trust in various ideals in their lives. And this is not limited to the confines of religion or the military either, it can be any organization, ideal or even a single person, in any local community (the police?). How many times have you heard “They were a pillar within the community, well respected by all. The community was shocked when *insert crime here* was reported”.
One of my personal ethics that I have adopted as I moved though life, is that my trust and respect are not automatically granted, they are earned. I don’t care if its just a person who comes into my life as an acquaintance or friend, or someone with authority over me (such as a boss or other authority figure, such as a police officer). They all earn my respect over time.
Keep in mind, there is a diffrence between following a request of a superior, and having respect for that said person. I have had, and have, people in my life in positions of authority (or “perceived” positions of authority) that have been in the mindset that you HAVE to respect them.
I will listen to you, and I will do as I am told. And I will otherwise fulfill whatever obligations that I have in the said situation, to the best of my ability. But I do not have to pander to your ignorance and ego, by respecting you.
While I have a lot of respect for George Carlin, Marilyn Manson and the many others that encourage all to question everything, they do have a limitation. Their limitation, is in that many of the people who could benefit the most from their works, will not ever seek it out.
In the same way that I would not seek out modern music willingly, they would never willingly seek out George Carlin specials or Marlyn Manson records.
This is where these abuses of trust in the “Unquestionable” of our culture, come in.
The more that people enmass see individuals say “I swear to god blah blah blah is true!”, then go on to learn that the individual was indeed not telling the truth, the more it erodes the trust in the statement. In an ideal world, the more this happens, the sooner people will see the statement for what is really is, 4 empty words.
And with luck, at the same time, the person will also realize that it is not only ok to be vigilant and careful, but more importantly, there is never harm in questioning.
Any entity or person that is truly worthy of the trust and respect that you extend to them, should be able to stand up to questioning or criticism. But if you start finding that these ideals, or people, are not open or welcome to discussion, then this should be a red flag.
You would never put your full trust in an organization that calls you on the phone, and asks for your life history and full financial portfolio, without you knowing anything about them. So why would you trust your children’s safety with someone, you know just as little about as the telemarketer?