Lately I’ve been pondering on an idea Marx wrote about. He wrote that “religion is the opium of the people.” Of course Marx was an atheist who thought he was above the superstitious masses of his days, stubbornly carried over from Europe’s Dark Ages prior to the Renaissance. I disagree with Marx on many points, but many others make sense to me. This idea of religion is something that I recently felt necessary to work out intellectually.
I wrote about my personal experiences with religion and family recently, and what they mean to me. I don’t think I’ll explore my intimate memories here because I want to engage in contemporary topics that are much more broad and general to the public at large.
I realized something very core and basic to America’s two mainstream political parties lately, and micro-blogged about them right after. I didn’t fully explore them then however, as Twitter doesn’t allow for longer descriptions for each tweet on its platform. So I essentially abstracted the core values of America’s left and right mainstream politics in relation to guns and religion in light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, whether if it was staged or actual.
The left basically sees that regulating weapons more in America is the way to peace, while turning a blind eye to the Democratic party selling arms to “rebels” in Syria to overthrow Bashar Al Assad’s government. The right basically sees that regulating and monitoring religion in America—specifically the Muslim faith—is the way to peace, while turning a blind eye to the failed wars waged in the Middle East that have forced millions of native people there into being homeless refugees overrunning Europe.
I personally believe that more federal regulation of anything won’t change anything. Peoples’ faiths will not be determined from centralized authority. Gun sales surge after mass shootings, and people get more religiously active after these tragedies, as well, in order to try to find some meaning in it all. It is well known to many that “war is money.” As sick as it sounds, the facts indicate that mass shootings and war increase religious activity, and weapons sales. They probably increase sales in other markets too.
I can’t help but seeing politics as religion for some people. If I’m brutally honest, politics has turned into a kind of religion for me, as I monitor the reporting, talking, and campaigning from both sides of America’s politics practically every day now. I have found no field of human activity filled with more idiocy, hypocrisy, and dysfunction than politics. Yet, politics have so much emotional energy involved in them that one can’t ignore. I have found that emotional energy is where decisions lie with everyone, rather than reason and logic.
As much as I’d like to believe that humankind is salvageable through reason, science, and logic, I know that these fine human features aren’t the crux around which humankind tethers. Indeed, I have found that religion is the opium of the masses. The word religion, itself, means the practice of re-ligating oneself to a congregation devoted to God, Christ, Allah, Buddha, or whatever, at regular intervals. The root word of ligament is found in the word religion. A ligament connects bones and muscles together in animal and human organisms. In an immaterial sense, people are ligated together into a community, a group, a congregation, a state, a nation, etc., in religion.
If one looks closer, one finds that religions are ritualistic beliefs and practices, involving prayer, sacrifice, service, and appointed regular and special community events. This is the same thing we all do in our secular lives anyway. Driving is a second nature ritual, eating is, using the bathroom, talking, writing… pretty much everything we do is a ritual. Some of those rituals can be quite irrational, but they serve soul assuaging purposes, or psychic tension releasing purposes, or security seeking purposes.
This new work of art of mine, titled The New Handheld Garden for You and Blue, is a subtle play upon all I’ve discussed thus far. It introduces the idea of handheld devices. You are probably looking at it with your own handheld device right now. It brings to your awareness to how our contemporary world revolves around the internet and handheld devices. These seem to be the new religion, as rituals are securely fastened to using them everyday for everyone, and, in many cases, for many hours a day. The handheld device is the new alter upon which one and all sacrifice their prayers. Prayers are old-fashioned ways of making desires acceptable to God. The internet is full of desires, and has websites across the planet, ready to accept your credit card number.
The center of interest in this digital collage emanates from the borderline psychedelic poppy flowers. They are symbolic of religion being the opium of the people. I feel they are a very appropriate symbol to use to shine forth from the screen of your handheld alter, or gallery, or device. The dark pinwheel spinning in the sky is symbolic of Summer showers cleaning the sky as they pass overhead, cooling our days sometimes as nature’s swamp coolers.