Today marks the 31st anniversary of when theocracy was inflicted upon Iran.
I cannot express the depth of my empathy with the people of Iran adequately – there are no words strong enough.
There are tyrannies – all kinds of tyrannies. And it is not pleasant to live under the yoke of any tyrant!
But, not all tyrannies are the same. The differences are very important: perhaps not so much to any specific individual who is martyred by a tyrant, but to the overall population, there is a difference.
It is difficult to explain what I mean – but, I shall try.
There is potential for infinite goodness in humanity – but there is also a potential for infinite evil in us. It is only the choices we make that determine which potential we are fulfilling. The actions we choose to take or not to take – that alone fulfills our potential.
While there are such among us that take delight out of causing pain and suffering to others, they are in a minority. If – or, rather, when (their ruthlessness drives them) – such a bad persons come to power, they can only remain there with the help of those who are corrupt. Sure, they will have cores of psychopaths they surround themselves with – but their numbers will never be large enough to keep them in power!
That is why tyrants need corrupt people to run their government. Not actively evil psychopaths, like themselves, but, those willing to be corrupt are numerous enough among us to permit tyrants to rule. Up to a point: if the tyrants excesses get to be too much, even the corrupt will balk at their evil and refuse to prop them up any longer.
Or, perhaps another way of phrasing it is that a ‘simple’ tyrant is, sooner or later, seen for what he or she is: a tyrant. Therefore, at some point in time, enough people will loose their fear of the tyranny and will rise up against the tyrant. This will happen when the people believe the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of rising up!
In a horrible sense, it is a self-correcting system. Not a nice, pleasant or efficient system, but, it has been repeated enough times to note the pattern.
Even this pathetic ‘self-correction’, this ‘worst possible hope’ has been subverted by theocracies by changing the way the people measure the ‘cost in suffering’!
1. more people are willing to inflict suffering onto others if they believe they are helping bring them back to ‘righteousness’ (their ends justify the means)
2. those oppressed are willing to suffer much longer and worse abuses because they believe they have more than just their worldly life to loose if they rebel!
The percentage of people who enjoy inflicting serious pain and suffering – for the sake of their own pleasure – really is not that big. But, those who are willing to inflict pain and suffering onto others because they believe it is ‘a necessary evil’ – a way to drag others onto the path to salvation, whether they wish to be saved or not – those people we have in abundance!
It’s a variation on the old saying: ’spare the rod and spoil the child’! Yes, that is right! You ‘ought to’ inflict violence on this here person, because it will ‘clense them’ and make them ‘better’!
Many of those who inflict suffering onto others under an oppressive theocracy do not do so because they enjoy the whole inflicting pain thing (except those who believe that suffering on this world buys you a better ‘next life’ – they are willing to open you a ‘savings account’ of type).
These are not inherently cruel people. Rather, they perform these unpleasant tasks for the sake of those they oppress, for the sake of their society, for the sake of all the children, for the sake of their God! It is the conditioning of the gullible, tricking them into committing evil against others in the name of ‘fighting evil’ and ‘being righteous’ that raises the number of potential oppressors that theocratic tyrants can exploit to keep themselves in power!
“Religion always leads to rhetorical despotism.
It shields evil behind walls of self-righteousness which are proof against all arguments against the evil.”
– Leto II
God Emperor of Dune
As for the oppressed people themselves…
They will endure more suffering if they believe it is God’s Will than they would ever stand for if they thought it a mere man’s will!
And, standing up to a God takes a lot more courage, too…
Of course, some religions add the element of ‘eternal soul’: suffering on this Earth is good, because it will buy you everlasting bliss in the next, much longer life-after-life! Of course, there is a stick behind this proverbial carrot, too: even if you get away with rebelling against God on THIS world, He’ll torture your soul for eternity in such horrible ways that only a God could imagine, so you had better not dare make trouble!
Others add the ‘collective punishment’ clause: unless everyone does ‘the right thing’, all of humanity will suffer! People will put up with much abuse, if they think they are buying protection for their loved ones…
Sometimes, the theocratic tyrants actually prey victim to their own propaganda and believe, truly believe, their own lies and religions! Because they remain convinced of their own righteousness, they will remain blind to the worst evils they commit!
Just ask the people of Iran… They rose up against a ‘simple tyrant’ only to have a theocratic one fly in from Paris and steal their freedoms away from them!
What a sad day…