Originally published Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Belief creates reality. Argue all you want, pick all the nits you want, it is a fact. If you don’t believe in the fact, well, you are just trying to be difficult and are missing the point. That’s perfectly fine by me, I have nothing to gain by relating the following story to you, but you may walk away with a bit more understanding of what this world is all about. At the very least you may have a moment of entertainment and be able to laugh about that old man who sat on the park bench and told you an outrageous tale of Gods and Heroes in America.
Pardon me if I make an assumption, but you look to be like a standard American Christian. I know, I know, you don’t go to church; you don’t even know what denomination your Mother was when you were growing up. You have friends who are Catholic, but you only know that because on Ash Wednesday they have a gray smudge on their foreheads. One of your friends is a devout atheist and goes purple in the face anytime anyone bases a moral decision on the Ten Commandments or Sermon on the Mount. We all know those types. And lest I forget, you also have that ex-lover who was into banging drums, burning incense, in an attempt to be a Druidic-Wiccan Pagan New Age Shaman Magician, or something. All you really cared about was the fact the sex was good.
If anyone asks you though, you say you are a Christian. It is the way you distinguish yourself from Muslims and that couple that run the magazine stand down the street who may or may not be Hindu, but you aren’t sure because you don’t really care. Ganesha to you sounds like something you eat with hummus. You are secure in your beliefs, so long as no one forces you to defend them. That’s just fine, this is America, you are allowed to believe whatever the hell you want. Remember what I said, though, belief creates reality.
The story I’m going to tell you is about how American belief created new gods. I can see the confusion on your face already. New gods? How can there be new gods if there is only one True God? Just sit down and learn something, won’t you? Gods derive their power from the belief people put in them and to think any one of them is Truer than the next is sheer folly. Your god today has no more or less meaning than the god of the Neanderthals who marched across Western Europe in the Ice Age.
So the story starts with a fellow named Sam. Sam was a respectable man, mature yet not a curmudgeon like myself. He stood tall and had a terrific work ethic. Up before sunrise and wouldn’t get into bed until all the cows were accounted for, all the gates closed, and all the tools put away. Sam was a farmer, a carpenter, a poet, an engineer, and an explorer. As time passed Sam sometimes was forced to pick up a gun and become a soldier, but he did it because he had to, but he didn’t like it. Sam was that kind of guy; he always did what he had to do. Sometimes a fire would have to be lit under his ass, but when he started something he finished it.
Somewhere along the line, Sam started seeing a new guy around who went by the name Bill. Bill wasn’t a bad guy, didn’t seem to work as hard as Sam and over time seemed to become more important around these parts than Sam. Sam was fascinated by Bill and even started referring to him as the All Mighty. Sam seemed to find less reason to work and more reason to follow Bill. It is an odd thing when a god begins worshipping another god, but that is exactly what happened with Sam.
Understand, this really isn’t Sam’s doing. Sam was a product of the belief of the American people. Sam, was the patron god of America, an ethereal representation of what this land was about. Sam had two friends, two beautiful women named Liberty and Justice, but Sam was lured away by the temptress Media. Media had this ability to affect the beliefs of the people and to a god who is controlled by the beliefs of the people, this is a most tempting power. Sam took to Media like she was his lover since the beginning of time. Liberty and Justice were after thoughts. First Media got what she wanted, and if anything was left over Liberty and Justice would get their share. Bill didn’t care one way or another. That was probably what intrigued Sam the most about Bill. Bill could have his way with Liberty, Justice, and Media. There wasn’t anything that could oppose Bill. And Bill had no sense of morality about it.
See, my friend, these are the gods that are in the American pantheon right now. We have the venerable elder god, Sam. A father figure, no one could argue with that. Liberty and Justice, both are maternal, protecting types, though they are at odds with each other at times, quarrelling over what is more important. Bill, the Almighty Dollar, is a trickster god, caring only about self-aggrandizement. There is nothing inherently evil about Bill, but Bill doesn’t care if people do evil in their pursuit of him. Media started off as a naïve woman, a workhorse delivering news and information to the people, until a few found a way to corrupt her, turn her into a prostitute. She became a Siren, luring the unsuspected to her altars, asking them to sacrifice to her and Bill. Unlike Sam, Liberty and Justice, she doesn’t care about America as a concept, only as a means to a greater end, her own power. I would be wrong to omit that Sam has a dark side, a villainous side that rarely is seen but needs to be mentioned. Sam, upright citizen of the world, delves into the dark arts often enough to have a corrupted soul. Part of this was due to his obsession with Bill, but it is mostly due to his desire to set upon the world a certain sense of order.
Look about you right now and you can see the dark side of Sam. The Sam who completely ignores Liberty and Justice. The Sam who willingly sacrifices Liberty out of fear. The Sam who puts a cloak upon Justice out of fear. The Sam driven in a monomaniacal rampage out of fear. Sam does this in hopes of creating a new god, Security. Many have tried to build and maintain enough Belief in Security as to allow him to come forth, shield in hand, as a Cavalier of the Land, protecting all. Security often comes forth on feet of clay, though and cannot be sustained long enough to do any real good. The sacrifices made in attempt of creating the belief in security stay with us for a long time, unfortunately.
That is your fear that is driving Sam to be like this. It is your fear that encourages Sam to torture people in hopes of birthing Security into America. It is your insistence that Media isn’t a lying wench that allows you to believe the other lies in your life. Stand against your fear and believe in the Sam who was the farmer, the Sam who was a worker, the Sam who was an engineer and explorer, believe in the Sam who cared for the world, not about Bill. Believe in the Sam who had the strength to carve out a nation from wilderness, who had the wisdom to bring Liberty and Justice to all. Sam knew, way back then when this nation was crowning from the birth canal that the only real protection comes from these two fine ladies. Sam knew they would be at odds with each other at times and the country would swing back and forth between Liberty and Justice, but that was fine because Sam didn’t know which one was more important. No one does. So it is right to allow them to fight it out between themselves, because deep down Liberty respects Justice and would never harm her and Justice adores Liberty and protects her whenever possible.
Get off my bench, now, and go do something that makes Sam snap out of his dark mood. Do something that empowers Liberty and Justice so they can help Sam come back to his senses. And if you still don’t believe that belief creates reality, then to hell with you, because it does and your belief that America should be afraid and America should ignore Liberty and Justice is only hurting Sam. And when Sam hurts, the world hurts.