Human Sacrifice [And other things that make you scratch your head]

…”People were crowded five deep at the tiny counter of a gun shop near Atlanta, where a pastor from Knoxville, Tenn., was among the customers who showed up in person after the store’s Web site halted sales because of low inventory. Emptying gun cases and bare shelves gave a picked-over feel to gun stores in many states. High-capacity magazines, which some state and federal officials want to ban or restrict, were selling briskly across the country: one Iowa dealer said that 30-round magazines were fetching five times what they sold for just weeks ago.”  [Front page New York Times 1/12/13]

“Gun dealers and buyers alike said that the rapid growth in gun sales — which began climbing significantly after President Obama’s re-election and soared after the Dec. 14 shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn., prompted him to call for new gun laws — shows little sign of abating.”

1. Obama was elected again.  He is a Black man, so, quite naturally, white people think he is going to take away their guns.

2. Five and six year old children were turned into Swiss Cheese by a mentally ill kid whose mother feared the government, owned lots of guns, and taught him how to shoot.

[These] are the two primary reasons we are given for the Bonanza in gun sales.  The first one involves President Obama.  But, Obama didn’t try to take guns away from white people last time he was elected president.  To the contrary, he signed laws into being permitting hand guns to be carried in places they were never permitted before.   Yet, when he was elected for a second term, BINGO, gun sales went through the roof again.  He is the first black person to be elected President.  He is the only person elected President whose election caused gun sales to skyrocket.  There is, of course, NO connection.

The second reason, or occurrence, that prompted gun sales to go ballistic is the massacre of helpless little children in Newtown, Connecticut.   It was the latest in a long and horrible list of occasions where a crazy person armed themselves and killed as many people as they could.

As shocking as what I am about to tell you is, I assure you that it is true.

The American people divided themselves into two diametrically opposed camps on the issue of gun control.  (It’s true!)

I am not a gun owner myself.  I do not understand people who think the answer to Americas epidemic of gun deaths is more guns.  I would very much like to understand this.  People who think more guns are the answer don’t understand me.  I see this as yet one more curious example of American culture unraveling.

Don’t ask me why, but, all this killing and death got me thinking about human sacrifice.  It got me thinking about how the Romans so enjoyed watching other people killed in horrible ways…. How so many, many cultures practiced human sacrifice… How so many religions are rooted in it!

I wondered… If the Roman games, complete with children being ripped apart and eaten by wild animals, were presented today…. How many Americans would go?  How different are we than they were, psychologically?  Assuming that they loved their children every bit as much as we love ours… what, do you suppose, they “got out” of watching the bloody spectacles in the arena? Why were they so popular?  Why were ANY human sacrifices throughout history popular spectator events?  What was/is it about witnessing the death of others that so fascinates… so moves… so deeply motivates and effects people to this day and in so many different ways?

What does the sacrifice of others do for me?

They are dead and I’m not and in that there is power.  In that is the temporary end of fear because, for the moment, another has lost and I have won.  For the moment I can rest and breathe easy.  For the moment I can feel stronger.  The fear in the herd abates because the lion has chosen his victim and made the kill.  The traffic backs up for miles along the highway as cars creep past the overturned, smoking wreck.

..”The longer people looked at the death of someone else, the more pleasure they could have in sensing the security and the good fortune of their own survival.”  [Elias Canetti “Crowds and Power”]

…”The continual grinding sacrifice of animal and human life in the arenas (on TV) was all of a piece with the repressions of a society that was dedicated to war and that lived in the teeth of death.  It was the perfect pastime to work off the anxieties and show the ultimate personal control of death.  The more death you saw unfold before your eyes, the more you thrust your thumbs downward, the more you bought off your own life.”.. [Ernest Becker “Escape From Evil]

Then, of course, there is the hunting enthusiast who doesn’t need the meat, but, so deeply enjoys the hunt and the kill.

Gregory Zilboorg the Russian psychoanalyst, sociologist and historian (and pretty goofy looking guy) writes…

..”Sadism naturally absorbs the fear of death because by actively manipulating and hating [see: Liberals, Obama]  we keep our organism absorbed in the outside world; this keeps self-reflection and the fear of death in a state of low tension.  We feel we are masters of life and death when we hold the fate of others in our hands.  As long as we can continue shooting, we think more of killing than of being killed.”… 

As long as we can continue shooting, we think more of killing than of being killed.

As long as we can continue shooting, we think more of killing than of being killed.

The Aztecs did it like this.

We do it in a thousand ways, from video games to live CNN broadcasts of cruse missiles blowing up apartment buildings full of women and children in Baghdad.  We did it with napalm, cluster bombs and Agent Orange.  We do it with gas, lethal injections and the electric chair.  We do it with drones.  We do it with land mines.  We did it to hundreds of thousands of CHILDREN in Iraq and you expect us to get all bent out of shape for a handful of children in Connecticut and give up our guns?

As a wise gangster once said….. “When killers stop killing they get killed.”

We have been a Nation of Killers since the first white man’s foot hit the beach.

Kiss, kiss

Mrs. N.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Human Sacrifice [And other things that make you scratch your head]

  1. Have you read Zygmunt Bauman’s “Modernity and the Holocaust?” It is a very intelligent book and has lot’s of insights about the relationship between [death-denying] ideologies, progress, and rational justifications for murder… It’d probably be right up your alley. Thanks for the read.

  2. Thank YOU Brad. I just ordered the book. It looks to be very interesting.

    Lately I read the local paper, on line, paying particular attention to the comments to the “letters to the Editor”. There are many Letters dealing with the topic of “Gun Control”. It fascinates me to see that the ultra religious… the “Fundamentalist Christians” are the ones who want NO gun control at all. They are the ones who want to be armed at all times and feel that society would be safer if everyone was. The atheists and agnostics, on the other hand, clammer for everything from outright confiscation to tight restrictions.

    [Ernest Becker, “Escape From Evil”, page 164]
    …”The early promise of Christianity was to bring about once and for all the social justice that the ancient world was crying for; Christianity never fulfilled that promise, and is as far away from it today as ever. No wonder it has trouble being taken seriously as a hero system. Even worse, as they have done all through history the churches still bless unheroic wars and sanctify group hatred and victimage.”…

    I, in making polite conversation with a 17 year old patient last week, enquired if “Santa” left him anything this year. His face lit up as he told me, “Yes! Santa left me a Bushmaster Rifle.” He comes from a very christian family. Nice, hardworking people.

    So, here I am in the Bible Belt, surrounded with billboards advising me to [“Remember, JESUS is the Reason for the Season”].

    Somewhere we need a Department of Religious Engineering. Somehow we must develop a New Religion that glorifies NATURE and makes Holy its support and nurture rather than its destruction. Man coming out of the world rather than “into” it… as a stranger.

    • “Somewhere we need a Department of Religious Engineering. Somehow we must develop a New Religion that glorifies NATURE and makes Holy its support and nurture rather than its destruction.”

      I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the only ones who could do that are those in power… and we all know that those folks are not existentially reflective philosopher-kings, but rather corporate fat-cats, those in their clutches, or those blind and drunk on the current religion based on capitalist definitions of human progress. A democracy consisting of free-voting people could never envision a New Religion while the old one remains stands. The people vote for what they want, not for what they need. The awareness of its artificial construction also takes away its magical power. I think the only ‘hope’ we have is seeing the current system collapse (as it surely will), where something entirely new might be built (assuming there is a world left for us to build something within).

  3. I agree Brad. But, even if only as a thought experiment I still think “engineering” a new nature based religion would be a good idea. Of course, once it all crashes and falls apart, there would be nothing to stop “The Engineers” from editing in some kind of “paranormal aspect” to make it fit the necessary prerequisites and suit the current facts. Leaving it all to chance just doesn’t seem as wise as at least attempting to plan.
    Did you read Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation Trilogy” when you were a teenager? I found it interesting how religion was “used” to help reduce a 10,000 year long Dark Age to one of less than 1000 years. Planning!

    If you haven’t read this I think you might enjoy it.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/dec/04/paul-krugman-asimov-economics

    • No, I hadn’t read Asimov’s trilogy… did enjoy the link though. This certainly resonates: “…to get the Plan back on track – and that requires making sure that nobody understands the Plan!”

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