Follow your dreams: Adriaan Nijen Twilhaar Just one day before the Minister Mentor gave a great speech on how Singapore has to seek new ways (less prohibitive ways, he emphasized) of thinking, I sat down with Adriaan Nijen Twilhaar, the Dutch founder of the controversial magazine Manazine for a coffee and a chat. ...

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Tower of Babel (Vienna)
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Faith - that monumental quality held up by the godly like a sacred wall separating them from the unbelievers.

It is this invisible talisman that unites the devotees of the most disparate religions and belief systems, from the arcane sorceries and sacrifices of the worshippers of Belial to the most buttoned-down, platitude ridden precincts of Protestantism to the most militant fascist. One and all decry one ultimate sin, that of unbelief, faithlessness

Of course, this is a self-defense mechanism, as the very existence of such institutions depends on the faith of their adherents. Those who disbelieve constitute a visible threat to the continuation of the sect. This alone doesn't disprove the validity of faith. It is only through a certain amount of faith in ourselves and others that we can negotiate the vicissitudes of this life.

Faith in a benevolent creator gives many of us hope and a positive model for living by. The problem with faith in an organized belief system is not that to possess it one must believe in an unseen creator or other deity, but that one must believe in a group of people and the stories they tell. 

There are many well-intentioned individuals in this world, but when they get together into groups, God help us all.

Mass hysteria is well named, as most masses seem to be prone to it in one way or another. Given the track record of such groups, there are none that I would be willing to entrust my entire life and world view to.

What is puzzling is the large number of people who continue to put faith in large institutions, despite the dismal record of such bodies. From the Catholic Church to the European Union, mass hysteria (or, mindless faith in the body politic) is as extant today as ever. 

Even those who would profess no faith in any institution might have IBM stock and American dollars salted away in some hidden shrine. Of course, faith in the EU and IBM are based on purely material evidence, yet our collective support of such institutions is as destructive as that of the Catholic Church or Islam has been in the past.

Through faith in such monstrous artificial structures, we sacrifice our support for true democracy: our faith in ourselves and in our fellows.

It is only by overcoming the tribal hierarchical structure of our primitive ancestors, in which absolute faith was put in the group and especially the supposed representative leaders of the group, that our true potential as interdependent beings can be unleashed. 

It is only by such faith, even faith the size of a mustard grain, that we can tell the mountain to lift itself up and cast itself into the sea. It is only with the demise of such mountainous corporate and political empires that any of us will know true freedom.

Of course, trust in such dubious organizations is not founded on their historically documented merit to mankind, but on the cynicism born of frustration with our dealings with others of our species and with the vagaries of Nature. 

Sick of the discomfort and danger of the wilderness, we banded together under the protective hand of mighty Nimrods and erected Towers of Babel; physical, pyramidal representations of our hierarchical societies. It is not the beneficence of such gigantic structures that we believe in, it is the fear of the alternative that bends us to such machines' will. 

The rules of these systems, while imprisoning us, also act as a restraint on our fellow prisoners. In the absence of a universal will to cooperate, we impose the arbitrary laws of institutions to bind us together under a yoke of unwilling union. 

The alternative? Anarchy, chaos, ruin. Of course, the majority of the world suffers such even now, under the guiding hand of the New World Order. What would real anarchy be like, in a world without the tyranny of the Tower?

We know Nimrod has no power but what we give him, as evidenced when the God confused the language of the builders of Babel and scattered them. This chaos was a good thing, as it created many small communities which spread out and developed other lands.

But people are never satisfied with such sustainable development. Always there is the compulsion to build a bigger Babel, an even greater Tower, this one to finally reach heaven. 

Heaven breached, the Solar System littered with our debris, what new pristine reaches can we leave our mark upon? Always climbing the pyramid, how many willfully immolate themselves for the glory of its god? Willing or no, all child virgins are sacrificed to the will of the Tower. What wonders could such potential bring if not wasted thus?

But as long as the world's inhabitants continue to put faith in these monstrous entities, rather than in themselves and the individuals around them, we are doomed to servitude to such massive machines. Of course, the road upward would be a long and difficult one, as the millennia of slavery to hierarchical structures has inevitably taken its toll on all of us.

It would take generations to totally free ourselves of the spiritual, physical and mental effects of this tyranny. However, the immediate effects would be undoubtedly positive, as each individual would be forced to awaken and live life interdependently of others, no longer relying on the group or its leaders for answers. A positive input from all people would be necessary, as no directives would come from the top down. 

This would eliminate the tyranny of the psychopath, from Stalin to Ted Bundy, as such monsters wouldn't be able to use the inefficiencies and weaknesses of the society against itself. It is only in such centralized systems, in which the balance of power is tied up in state and corporate bodies, that such predators flourish.

There is nothing unnatural about human society and its political, industrial and cultural constructs, any more than there is about an anthill and the colony within. The law of the survival of the fittest applies in all groups. 

Yet, there is something more evident in every species, something akin to love. It is this which offsets the destructive power of competition and maintains the balance that allows life to continue.

This altruism, when channeled into something constructive rather than sacrificed on the altar of the machine, is the closest we've come to true divinity. It is the proof of our potential, and it is up to each one of us to develop it to the best of our ability under the present system.

Obviously, the logistics of a massive shift in the power structure of our species (and its attendant benefits to the other species of our planet), would be difficult. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and that first step is faith in ourselves. 

So, Faith, Brothers and Sisters! 

- Artwork: Brueghel's "Tower of Babel"
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