"The most common characteristic of all police states is intimidation by surveillance. Citizens know they are being watched and overheard. Their mail is being examined. Their homes can be invaded." ~ Vance Packard
By nature, man worships. Veneration. What is holy to life.
It can be the mate one loves. It can be children. It can be job or career. It can be a philosophy. It can be a hobby or special facet of life. It can be metaphysical, and take in the many a various expressions of "God" as they are found in the world.
And it can be all of the above.
But worship can only, at its very worst, include government, which is nothing more than a group of people who think they have a right to instruct the rest of us how to live, and what to worship.
Some will quickly say: "But isn't that precisely what the major (or minor) faiths tell their faithful?"
Yes . . . and no.
True, there were terrible times in history when that happened, for instance, when the Church conducted the Inquisition. But more innocents were killed in the two months after the invasion of Iraq by the American government's military, than were killed in the entire period of the Inquisition.
Governments and their wars killed almost 200 million people last century.
No religious organization that can hold a torch to that figure! Great Britain, supposedly the bastion of western civilization, for centuries had the grisly practice of execution by drawing and quartering the condemned.
The very polite version depicted in Braveheart gives no clue as to "civilized" man's ability to inflict pain and suffering.
I think of some young kid puking his guts out in the Iraqi desert after watching a soldier from the other side get cut in half by machine gun fire, and for that, he will receive discipline at the hands of the government's military.
The church never thought of taking matters that far!
Somehow, I suspect that young soldier now knows not to worship government anymore. But he will suffer a stigma for his lifetime because he did not worship the "gods" of government as expected. He might even get tossed into the American version of "the dungeon."
America's object of worship is flying on millions of homes this day. The flag. It is said that it is in honor of those who died to make us free, but I am still trying to discover in which war it was that Americans had to die to make me free. Weren't we already free before every war since 1812? In every other war since, we invaded some other country. Pearl Harbor would have never happened had it not been provoked, and as I believe history will show, neither would 9/11 happened had America been minding its own business.
Much has been made of the pre-emptive war in Iraq this past spring, but the truth is, since 1812, every war American has fought was pre-emptive, and as far as the Civil War goes--do a Google on Thomas DiLorenzo and read for yourself.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, worship. I tend to chuckle whenever the issue of the separation of church and state comes up, because, in every historical instance, it was always the state that initiated violence against people, not the "church." Not that the church is without historical culpability, but as I watch the militant fundamentalists present agitating for war as they have since 9/11, the historical pattern becomes clear. One would have to say, honestly, that the Vatican seems to have learned from history, given its opposition to the present wars and others of the last century.
The concept of the "separation of church and state" should be expanded to say: "the separation of the state from everything!"
Now--we have the war and the whole Jessica Lynch fiasco, lying politicians trying to justify for war, another $87 billion down the hole, and the spectacle of candidates for our next go-round in the political sphere--all asserting how much each of them knows what is best for me . . .
Or, we can worship freedom. God likes that one, too--whichever one you believe in.