Fantasy, by comparison, is the drunken bore to reality’s life and soul of the party. It’s Lennon’s sugar-coated ‘Imagine’ to Dylan’s biting ‘Masters of War’. Fantasy is merely the representation of the limits of our imaginations. Reality doesn’t require imaginations though, and it certainly doesn’t acknowledge man’s limitations in this regard. The briefest of excursions into the worlds of biology, physics, & cosmology in particular, will reward you with information about this life that will leave you breathless. Fairy tales are a poor substitute, trailing behind, clinging to the coat tails of truth. Facts inform and inspire fiction, but the reverse is impossible. How fascinating it is then that so many seem to have so much disdain for evidence based decisions.
It may sound as if I have something against ‘make believe’. I really don’t. I love a good story. This truth about me gives rise to just another item on the list of reasons why I hate religion. Religion survives on the myth that we all need to pretend sometimes. Of course we don’t – but occasionally it’s fun. The godly tarnish, dare I say poison, even this.
For sure being hostage to our imaginations is the least of fantasy’s crimes – it’s when it becomes a tool of fascism, used to justify genocide, murder, rape, torture, cruelty to animals and all the rest of it that we have to worry. When grown-ups with access to guns and rockets start to believe, and I mean really believe that their wishes will come true, predicated only on certain behaviours, it really matters what these behaviours are and where the reasoning for them comes from.
And so it is that there are now only two clocks running in Israel and the Palestinian territories; one is what we might depressingly call the annihilation clock. That is to say the moment when one side decides to go all in and commit the very worst of crimes. The other is the atheism clock. The moment of clarity when everyone in the region (and elsewhere) realises that even a two state solution is one more than is actually necessary. It’s not clear yet which one of these clocks will rundown fastest. Either way, what is clear is that while we wait for the ticking to stop, we will have to witness thousands of children being blown to pieces, interspersed with periods of calm where we’re all hoping that one side doesn’t look at the other the wrong way again.
Alas, fear not, I’m not about to write yet another analysis of this latest human catastrophe in the Middle East. I simply wish for us all to admit what the real problem is, if only because that always seems like a good place to start when trying to resolve an issue. It can be summarised with this graphic:
These pronouncements, which are taken seriously by far too many, leave very little room for compromise or reason to hope that a permanent agreement is achievable. They’re also why the war has a majority of public support on both sides of the conflict.
I think I must say one more thing. None of us have done enough to prevent this. None of us. We all make concessions to untruth every day. We all normalise it. Scientology seems crazy to everyone, but that’s only because it’s new. It’s no crazier than Judaism, Christianity or Islam. We should be much more outraged at the miss-education of children, the ritual slaughter of animals, the unashamed resistance to equality for homosexuals, the misogyny and so on, in our own countries. That’d be a start at least.
As Bill Maher said in his 2008 film ‘Religulous’: “Wherever there is mass delusion, bad things will follow.”