“[C]ivilizations collapse when their powers outrun their religions.”
– Lord Leto II, God Emperor of Dune
This is one of my favorite quotes from the brilliant Frank Herbert’s incomparable Dune sextilogy.
Our science power is a problem without spiritual constraints. If just our food were sacred, would we be poisoning each other every day the way we do, with horrible industrial chemicals and processes that sometimes render what we eat disqualified from even being called food? The things become “food products”. Is there any wonder chronic disease is so steeply rising? Disrespect for the sanctity of human (and animal) being is so widespread and profound we don’t even notice it. We are willing partners in our own enslavement. McDonald’s cheerily advertises starting wages OVER $10 PER HOUR!!! You can’t live decently on that wage these days, but millions are forced to try to live on even much lower wages. And everyone knows this. It is ideologically acceptable in traditional American culture.
You should see me trying to convince the Brattleboro Food Coop that $0.99 pricing is an artifact of corrupt relationship with its customers. Everyone knows 99 cent pricing is a manipulation, so we submit to it, and the Coop believes it must do this to maintain revenues. We pretend the harm is too minuscule to consider. But if we can’t be free from these types of manipulation at the Coop, then where can we?
Taken a step further, there’s no way to know the cumulative cost of all the manipulations we submit to every day. I think this has made us all ill. Exploitation is ideologically intrinsic to the capitalist system. It has infected us all so deeply, I can’t even take a cab ride without cynical thoughts that the cabbie is going to try to squeeze me. It puts us all on an antagonistic footing with each other whenever money is involved, and even many times when it isn’t.
The fact that everyone knows 99 cent pricing is a manipulation, and all accept it for that fact, is what makes it The Matrix. And then where is the underground to which it will not follow?
We are certainly not free from these things in our hearts.
So the rot spreads.