If I Were “Benevolent Dictator”, Here’s How It Would Be…

No one sees it coming, least of all me. Just like that — political leaders across the world & spectrum get the fates they deserve. The World’s eyes (getting REALLY desperate) turn to me of all people.

“Dude,” the World says, “We’re totally screwed. The ball’s yours if you want. Got anything?”

“Okay,” I say after a long, thoughtful beat. Here’s the deal I want:

  1. My job title: “Benevolent Dictator”. It’s not up for discussion. Now here’s the thing — no one has to call me this. In fact, I’d rather they didn’t. It’s a little OTT. I just need the World to understand that, until my work is finished, that’s who & what I am.
  2. My pay — zero. It ain’t about the money. If I do MY job correctly, money will land in my pocket through a thousand different streams (all of them 100% legit).
  3. What I Want — The End of CRONY CAPITALISM. That’s another non-negotiable point. We need to rethink almost everything about our culture. More exactly, we need to start SEEING our culture for what it is, for what it must be and for what it can never be again. Money is not our problem, GREED is. Greed undermines capitalism more than an army of communists and socialists. Take THAT to the bank.
  4. What I Want (continued) — A return to HUMAN DECENCY as the basis for how we view one another — and more importantly how we treat one another. For starters, we bury the ludicrous notion that America is “a Christian country”. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are larded with Humanist thought born of the French Enlightenment. There’s far more Jean-Jacques Rousseau in our foundational docs than there is Jeremiah. To that end, we recognize religious texts as literature, not history and definitely not a basis for morality. We have science to cover the “nuts & bolts” of how we got here and CRITICAL THINKING to cover the rest.
  5. What I Want (Continued) — We put every fact we have about Donald Trump & the Republican Party on the table. We admit to ourselves what the Republican Party tried to do to us — install permanent minority rule; even though they hated Donald Trump, they cynically hitched their shit-wagon to him despite knowing he was bought & paid for by Russia — because THEY, too, were bought & paid for by Russia. And Saudi Arabia & the UAE & Israel (and who the hell knows who else).
  6. What I Want (Continued One Last Time) — We retrain our news media as far away from Both Sides Do It journalism as possible. We make selling False Equivalences career suicide. We return critical thinking & especially PERSPECTIVE to all journalism school curriculum.
  7. What I REALLY Want — As quickly as I can, I will remove as many men as possible from positions of power. Those that remain will have to demonstrate that they really do know how to play well with others. That means no unilateral “I alone can fix it” toxic male thinking. Deal breaker. I insist that we hand as much governmental power as they want over to women (African American women especially — if not for them, this Democratic Republic would have been toast years ago). I’m not saying women are perfect — though, as Benevolent Dictator I could — I’m just saying they cannot possibly do worse than men. And to make sure men don’t ruin what women try to do with their unhelpful suggestions — I want to give women the purest shot we can. Once women are ready to rock ‘n roll? I’m handing over the reins of power.

That’s my deal. I’m ready to sign — and get to work — whenever YOU are, World…

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There’s A Huge Honkin’ Difference Between Being “Spiritual” & Being “Religious”

Even a stone cold atheist can feel profound awe as he or she stares up at the stars. Atheists especially understand the scale — tiny human on a rock at the far edges of a galaxy in the middle of a billion galaxies feeling both his insignificance in the greater scheme of things while also being keenly aware that he “is” and therefore can “experience” this feeling of cosmic scale. That awe is spirituality. It’s abstract. It’s a riddle. It’s a quest.

But not everyone wants to go on a quest. They just want to live their lives and leave the heavy thinking to others: Just tell me what to believe and I’ll believe it. THAT is religion. It’s NOT about a journey or a search or an exploration. It’s about following rules. It’s about crowd control.

I grew up in a Conservative Jewish, deeply Humanist culture. That’s the middle ground between rule-following orthodoxy and total rule-rejecting reformed Judaism. In my house we rejected most of the rules. We didn’t keep kosher. Didn’t do any of that whatsoever. We went to shul on an occasional basis (for sure on the High Holidays). Though the ten commandments are a cornerstone of the faith, they’re not complicated. As rules go, they’re straightforward. Don’t do this, don’t do that. One thing we didn’t do — as a religion or culture — the institution (the synagogue) was not set up as your over-seer. Unlike the Catholic church, a synagogue never demanded that you confess every last bit of your dirt to it — so it could hold that dirt over your head in perpetuity.

THAT is how religion works.

Jesus was pretty clear in his message: Do unto others… suffer the little children unto me… the meek shall inherit the earth. He didn’t preach about how he wanted his church hierarchy to be structured because Jesus wasn’t about building churches. He was about teaching spirituality.

I mention this because Jesus is kinda the Poster Child for what happens when a spiritual message gets religion. Doing unto others requires a spiritual connection with the rest of humanity. Confession requires that you feel guilty mostly for just being human.

Isn’t that the whole point of “original sin”?

The Church’s genius — dark genius though it was — was to convince all those billions of people that being human wasn’t good enough. That instead of a spiritual journey, its followers needed to be locked in a box — like a veal being fattened up for slaughter without ever having seen the sun. The greatest threat overhanging any church member is expulsion from the group. Excommunication.

No one, it seems, gets excommunicated for diddling little boys. Question the church’s authority though and you’re gone.

A religious person looks up at the stars and wonders where their imaginary friend lives — and is that imaginary friend spying on them? A spiritual person sees a life-long journey of discovery, all to answer one question: how do I fit into that? How can I make my brief time as a sentient being more meaningful? How can I fill every moment with meaning? How can I…?

Spirituality is the freedom to explore. Religion is its diametric opposite.