2 years ago
I want you to imagine you live in a world, very different
to the one you know today.
Science doesn’t exist. It hasn’t been invented yet. And so everything you see around you is a mystery. That ball of fire in the sky during the day – it could be a small thing just a few miles away, or a big thing a long way away. And goodness knows where it goes when it gets dark – or why.
Speaking of night, the ball of fire is replaced by a white shiny disc thing – sometimes. You’ve no idea what that is, why it comes and goes seemingly at random, and why it sometimes seems to have pieces missing. It could be made of cheese for all you know – if cheese had been invented that is.
Everything, from how and why the trees grow to how your body works is a source of wonderment. When a child is born you can only guess at the process that brought it about.
Needless to say, there are no books, newspapers, radios, TV’s, phones or other methods of communicating messages and ideas over any distance. Similarly there is no powered transport at all…no cars, no trains, no aeroplanes. In fact there’s no easy way of getting from one place to another.
So people don’t tend to stray very far or communicate with people outside of their immediate area. They live on what they can catch, gather or grow. Trade and commerce don’t exist.
Now you’re a go-ahead kind of guy (or gal) and so this situation doesn’t sit well with you. You figure there’s a probably a better way - a way that could see you enjoying a much better life.
For one thing, you’ve got the idea into your head that the grass is probably greener on the other side of the hill. You’ve never been there, but human nature kicks in and it starts to irritate you that someone else is probably getting more than you. You’d like to at least go and take a look, and if it’s as good as you think, nick it for yourself.
Secondly, you’d like to raise your world out of the dust. These makeshift shacks you’ve been living in are all well and good, but you’ve got higher ambitions than that – the odd amphitheatre for example, maybe a few pyramids. Or some hanging gardens. They would be nice.
Oh and a nice simple palace for yourself and the wife and kids.
But you have a problem that stands between you
and these lofty ambitions…
In order to do any of this, you’re going to need the un-thinking co-operation of other people. You’re going to need a gang for one thing (We might rename it an army later) if you’re going to start nicking other peoples grass. That’s bound to be dangerous. And all that building work won’t be easy. You’ll need a huge workforce.
And that’s the problem you face…
How do you get people to join your gang and risk their lives to go stealing land on your behalf? You definitely want to get the lion’s share of the spoils when they find out what’s there. It was your idea after all. And how do you get people to work their fingers to the bone for little more than basic food rations? You haven’t got anything to give them and wouldn’t want to anyway. The whole point is that you get to keep as much as possible for yourself.
And how the heck do you get them to behave themselves and tow the line when you’re not watching over them? There are very limited communications, remember. They’re going to be out there, unsupervised for much of the time.
This causes you a lot of sleepless nights, and then you have a brainwave…
What if you were to invent a ‘magic policeman’ ? There’s no science yet remember, so this might just work.
You tell all the people you want to be in your army and workforce that this ‘magic policeman’ is very special. Because he created the world they live in and just about everything they see around them. What’s more, he’s looking down on them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from somewhere up in the sky. You could even tell them he’s hiding behind a cloud. They won’t know any different.
Now this magic policeman is very strict, and by a happy coincidence, the way he wants people to behave… what he wants them to do… fits in very nicely with what you have in mind. Remember, the magic policeman is ultra powerful; he created the world – so he’s going to command some respect. Heck, people are going to abide by his rules.
But you make it clear to them that if they step out of line, the magic policeman will punish them, and that punishment will be awful… far worse than anything they can imagine.
If they tow the line…. you’re really on a roll now… they’ll get a reward. And here’s the really good bit – the work of genius…
They won’t get the reward until after they die!
What a jolly wheeze! Your gang members will troop off to do battle for you, happy as pigs in the proverbial, because they know they’re in a win-win situation. If they come back with the spoils, you might be generous enough to share some of it with them. And if they get killed in the process – well that’s when they’ll get their BIG reward!
And those workers putting the finishing touches to your Acropolis?
Well they may be working like slaves, but they know that the magic policeman wants (no demands!) that they do this work (they know because you told them) and if they do it well and without complaint, the magic policeman will watch over them, and then give them their reward…
After they die!
The more you think about this, the more appealing it becomes. It’s the perfect way to get hordes of people to do what you want – but not for you… it’s all to please the magic policeman. And nobody can call you a cheat or a liar. Because the only people who get to see the magic policeman and find out about this promised reward – are dead.
And so you put your cunning plan into operation and build up whole nations, civilisations and empires on the back of it.
But you don’t have a clear run…
You see, much to your surprise it seems like quite a few other go-ahead kind of guys had a similar idea at the same time. Oh sure, their ‘magic policemen’ had different names, slightly different rules, and a different range of punishments, but the basic idea was the same:
1. A being who created the world or part of it. He is great and all-powerful, while you are weak and unworthy. You must spend your life bowing to his greatness and obeying his rules.
2. Strict rules and regulations, conveniently in line with the wishes and ambitions of those who rule or those who aspire to rule.
3. Punishments for those who break the rules, both in this life and after death.
4. Rewards beyond comprehension after death, for those who obey the magic policeman during life.
5. Omnipotence – He’s everywhere and watching you 24/7.
6. You can talk to him telepathically and ask for things, but don’t expect a reply. If he does respond it will be in a mysterious way.
7. He will be take credit if things turn out well, but turn the blame on you when they go badly.
What do they say… great minds think alike?
But look, that was in the dim and distant past, long before science came along and gave rational explanations for much that had previously been credited to the various magic policemen around the world. Nobody would fall into the trap of living and organising their life with the purpose of currying favour with a magic policeman in these more enlightened times – would they?
Surely nobody would place all their hopes, fears and ambitions in the hands of this all seeing (but unseen) deity, and then stand back and accept what they’re given… good bad or indifferent – would they?
And surely nobody would accept the idea that obedience, subservience, blind faith and unquestioning belief are what is important, while the pursuit of goals, ambitions and personal achievement are selfish acts which will be punished by an ultimate arbiter – would they?
I think we both know that they would – and they do.
I’m not writing this issue to offend or upset anyone with deeply held convictions. And I know for certain that anyone who held such convictions wouldn’t be swayed one inch by these words anyway– other than to anger. But I also know that there’s a big chunk of the population suffering from what I’d call a ‘magic policeman hangover’. They were told in childhood that the magic policeman would help them if they put their faith in him, that they must obey his word through life, and that they would later get their reward. Time has blunted the conviction somewhat, but some of the effect lingers in the subconscious.
And that effect could well be holding those people back.
You see, to make a success of anything you have to take full responsibility for the outcome of your actions. Self determination must be your firm and solid belief. You have to fully embrace the notion that the outcomes you get are the result of your personal inputs, and won’t be influenced or affected by the intervention of some mysterious, unseen third party.
And you have to understand that the rewards you get come in the real world as a result of your actions and achievements, not in some unseen world as a result of your obedience and compliance.
It really is difficult to commit fully to doing what’s necessary to achieve your goals if you continue to embrace the remnants of your magic policeman hangover – if you continue to hold on to (even on a subconscious level) the belief that the magic policeman will look after you… if you’re good… and punish you, if you stray from his rulebook.
It’s impossible to give everything when you hold on to even the tiniest notion that your fate is ultimately in the hands of something or someone else, and that this ‘something else’ will provide you with a safety net – just so long as you believe and behave.
But you’re not in the hands of anyone else –
you’re in the hands of yourself…
you’re in the hands of yourself…
The magic policeman was created for a reason – to keep your predecessors subservient, and obedient - not to the magic policeman, but to the people who created him. They knew no better and paid with their freedom, their ambitions and sometimes their lives, as a result.
You and I don’t have that excuse.
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