Some context for you: I'm currently reading Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher. This is an excellent novel that I've almost finished, and I will review it for you later. For the purpose of this post, it's enough to know that in Beyond Redemption, faith and belief have the power to define the world. If enough people believe the same thing, delusions become reality.
Remember that last bit: delusions become reality.
The novel is grimdark, and I mean very, very dark, so if you normally avoid this kind of novel, then I wouldn't recommend it to you. However if you're like me, and you enjoy looking under psychological rocks in order to see what breeds there, come along ...
There is a scene in Beyond Redemption where the god-child, Morgen, brings a severely injured dead cat back to life, but he doesn't heal it. The dead-undead cat crawls away, and that is--the reader thinks--the last we'll see of the dead-undead cat.
Haha, fooled you.
The dead-undead cat shows up again about two chapters later when another character, Asena, comes upon "the dead cat, spine and skull crushed, still twitching and dragging itself through a narrow alley. A trail of beggars followed the cat, proclaiming its divinity and protecting it from all who attempted to approach." [Emphasis mine]
And my brain went hmmm as it sometimes does, and I started thinking about how "delusions become reality" and couldn't stop, and then how one person's delusions can easily become another person's divinity. Then, this morning, while half-awake and semi-delusional myself, I'm surfing through the "news" and come across this little gem where one of the American presidential candidates, Ben Carson, holds forth with his theory on the pyramids:
"My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain," Carson said.
"Now all the archeologists [sic] think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don't think it'd just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain."
Carson added: "And when you look at the way that the pyramids are made, with many chambers that are hermetically sealed, they'd have to be that way for various reasons. And various of scientists have said, 'Well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that's how, you know, it doesn't require an alien being when God is with you."
Because, aliens ... I guess.
I have no idea what Carson is even talking about here. It's like he lives in another world--not even a parallel world ... just this strange alternate plane of existence where whatever the hell pours out of his mouth is reality. Frankly, this wouldn't be a problem except that he (and to be fair, other presidential candidates, as well) expects everyone else to buy into these delusions.
Now this particular theory probably wouldn't have bothered me as much had it been posited by someone with an elementary school education. Nor would it have bothered me if someone who got their entire worldview from Fox News said these things, or even if it had been someone who had never left the county in which s/he had been born, meaning someone too ignorant to know better, but Ben Carson is a neurosurgeon. This indicates to me that he did, at one time, attend an institution of higher learning. Of course, his delusions prove a long-standing theory of my own: that acquiring a college education does not make one smarter, it simply teaches one how to better utilize the intelligence already within one's grasp.
So what does all of this have to do with a dead-undead cat and delusions that become reality?
The problem with Ben Carson, and the other presidential candidates for that matter, is that they can pass themselves off as credible. Nowadays, no matter what kind of half-dead, mewling ideology a person espouses, when that individual speaks authoritatively to an issue, others simply accept the premise as true.
[And yes, I will pause our little discussion in order to point out that I do, in fact, see the irony in that I am presenting my own crackpot theory here, but hey ... I've always wanted my own cult. My cult is intentional--that is my delusion.]
The Dead-Undead Cat is my new metaphor for these crackpot theories, or delusions. The cult arises when other people start to follow the Dead-Undead Cat, proclaim its divinity, and attempt to protect the premise from all who challenge it. The adherents of the Cult repeat their theories ad nauseam, breed even stranger theories, which are, in turn, followed by more beggars, because everyone seems to think that repetition breeds reality.
Don't get me wrong, faith and belief are wonderful things and give many people much comfort; however, if we want strong leaders and good government, we need people who are not afraid of facts. We should accept nothing less than leaders who are strong enough to critically examine problems, who understand compromise, and can motivate others to arrive at workable solutions.
It would also help if these leaders understood that the Egyptians didn't store grain with dead bodies in pyramids, because, aliens.
While faith and belief are important aspects of character, we should never, never, allow faith and belief to be the sole basis for our realities, or our delusions, or our presidential candidates. Otherwise, our political system and the freedoms that system gives us will truly be beyond redemption, and we may not be able to resurrect it.
Comments are off ... I'm on a deadline. Go read a book.