What do you believe in?

Everyone needs something to believe in.

I've heard it said and I believe it is true for most people.

Throughout human history, right up until the middle of the last century, humans believed in gods and religions. A lot still do, I know. Religion is still massive but for the first time in history, a huge tranche of the worlds population have given up on it. Religion was born from ignorance; a lack of understanding of the world, nature and the things that go on around us.

Over the last few hundred years, science has picked away at religion bit by bit, with great resistance, until now we can see that religion is not the answer and is not needed. Since the middle of last century, religion has been largely done away with by the masses.

But what do we believe in now? The void has to be filled. People still need something to cling to. The idea that people can stand alone was not strong enough to take over where religion left off and is still not strong enough now.

From the fifties and throughout the cold war, the western world lived with the constant threat of nuclear destruction. This threat provided people with a new belief; a new religion. The belief that we don't want to die in a nuclear fire, that we don't want the planet to be destroyed in a nuclear war. This began to give people the direction that they were lacking in the absence of religious beliefs. Groups like CND and Greenpeace came about during the cold war. People turned their energies to the anti nuclear cause. Women camped out at Greenham common. There were regular demonstrations and the movement became huge.

However, the cold war ended in the eighties. Communism collapsed with the domino effect, the Berlin Wall came down and the threat of nuclear destruction became much less serious. This again left people with a void to fill. They couldn't just walk away, say job well done and get on with their lives. They still needed something to believe in.

Around the end of the cold war, with pressure groups who had no one to pressure and inactive activists, new reasons to fill the void began to crop up. The late eighties and early nineties were dominated by the food health scare. We had salmonella in eggs, listeria in cheese, and the big one, BSE in beef.

These scares gave rise to the next "religion". The food police. Food safety became the new direction for the pressure groups. In a vain effort to eradicate all the various types of food poisoning, new and pointless laws were enacted and some businesses were crippled by ever expanding costs and new legislation.

Food safety eventually began to grow into the general "Health and Safety" movement. People began to look for new and ever more imaginative ways to make people safe. Regardless of the social and economic cost, people had to be protected. We saw the demise of leaded petrol. As a car enthusiast, I understand the importance of lead, particularly in older vehicles. It didn't stop there though. We also lost lead in paints and at a huge cost, computer equipment and printed circuit boards. The only harm that lead ever caused was in water piping, but we lost the lot.

Then came asbestos. A very efficient fire retardant in building materials and harmless in many building applications, was also banned completely.

A traffic police force that was the envy of Europe gave way to speed cameras.

Passive smoking became the new "killer". We are all painfully aware of how that turned out.

But the big one was yet to come. Global warming. This was something the activists could really get their teeth into. This was another issue on a worldwide scale, just like the nuclear threat of the cold war. Global warming was about to wreak havoc on our entire planet and something had to be done. It wasn't long before the issue of global warming grew a life of its own and spiralled out of control. Law after legislation after downright scams and bullying prevailed. The financial cost to the west has been enormous. Random green taxes, cap and trade, carbon offsetting etc. The social cost to the developing world has also been huge. Countries have been bullied and badgered into holding back their own development because to grow they need to use fossil fuels which "cause" climate change.

As I write this, the phenomena of global warming and climate change seems to have abated quite a lot. The general public seem to we waking up to the true facts. There are still many believers and it is still firmly in the best interests of those in power to promote this particular scare, so there is a long way to go yet. However I believe there is a light in that proverbial tunnel.

People are still seeking ever more causes to fill that void and something happened in recent times to make that ever more possible and even necessary. In 1997 the British people voted for socialism. Causes and the pressure groups that fought them were no longer the annoyance they once were. Now they were welcomed and encouraged. It no longer became necessary to jump on a bandwagon, you easily start one of your own. You even get funding from the government if you choose to do so.

Now we have smoking banned completely in all pubs and clubs. Something unthinkable just a few years ago. They want to take that still further and ban smoking in cars and private houses. And it goes on. Salt in food, saturated fats, happy meals, burkas, lunchboxes, cutlery, cheep beer are all being targeted with vigour. The list goes on and continues to expand on a daily basis. Every individual with a pet hate is now able to take it to the national stage and influence the government into bending to their wishes.

These people and groups no longer need to rely on public donations and volunteers. They get paid huge sums of money from the government. Tax payers money. Pressure groups have now become a huge industry. They turn over millions of pounds and employ thousands of people. And they are not an industry as we understand it. They don't provide goods, they take them away. Leaded petrol, asbestos, T-bone steaks, etc. The only service they provide are ones that we don't want and never asked for, yet we are forced to pay for them never the less. Smoking bans, food police, badgering us about our own health.

One day the human race is sure to grow up and learn to stand on its own two feet, without the need for religion, in the true sense or otherwise. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening in our time. Maybe after a few hundred years of evolution. There are some out there, however, who have already evolved; already made that leap. The libertarians among us, the people whose blogs I read and other like minded folk.

Did you ever see that episode of Star Trek where the one chap is fleeing across the galaxy when he meets Picards crew? His planets security folk eventually catch up an say he is a dangerous subversive. All the others have been executed but they haven't caught this chap yet. Eventually he morphs into an energy being (or some such). It turns out that some of this planets people are evolving into a new state of consciousness and that is what the government feared, so they were bumping them off before it happened.

Some humans have evolved also and are feared just as much. Those who value freedom and liberty and have abandoned scaremongering and the need to control and subjugate others. Those humans are the future, however long that future takes to come about.

So what do you believe in? Me? I believe I will have another beer.


Jayce Kay said...

Bucko said...