Friday, May 02, 2008

Ideologies Will Kill You

I've been reading one of the most fascinating books I've seen in years, titled God Wants You Dead. It's a study of ideologies, (ideas that take on a life of their own,) and how they control people as a queen ant controls her collective. (Did you know that ants and humans are the only species that actually fight each other to the death?) The controversial title refers to people who refuse medical treatment for religious reasons, or suicide bombers: if you think God would prefer you dead than alive for "His" cause, then by your logic...

The book goes on to explain that memes can be broken up into categories, including parasitic and symbiotic. Symbiotic ideas help you, enrich your life, and jive with your biological needs. Parasitic ideas are those that use people for their cause, and become more important than the well-being of the people who think them. This includes religion, nationalism, environmentalism, conservativism, liberalism - just about any "ism" you can think of.

A large part of the problem is when ideologies demand an all or nothing level of acceptance. The book suggests breaking every ideology down into its component ideas. A large example of this is the political parties our government is broken up into. If you're for a strong military but think we should leave Iraq, against illegal immigrants, for labor unions, support abortion rights, support the NRA, think taxes should be lowered, are against class-action lawsuits, against the patriot act, but for teaching creationism in the classroom - who do you vote for? You don't have a choice, you have to vote for one ideology or the other, neither of which truly represents your views.

Take a good look at the ideas that control your life. Of course, you will always have ideas in your brain. But if you find yourself getting angry when people's ideas don't jive with yours, find yourself unable to pick and choose which parts of a religion or political party you agree with, or find that there are no beneficial or logical reasons behind your ideologies, it might be time to change them.



Neto Morais said...

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Knitting Painter Woman said...

Can't wait to get my hands on this book. and thanks for the suggestion to French Toast Girl to do an ABC challenge for May. That's what I'm planning, with some quote illustrations at the end of the month.

Caroline said...

Sounds like an interesting book.

Anonymous said...

I really like this post Tony! Interesting book ... sounds ideal ;)

steve said...

Great post Tony--I should check this out then.

Jo said...

Don't forget the blog!

String said...

Nice commentary, parallels something I have been thinking about, now obviously I need to go get the book!