Sunday, January 04, 2009

Productive Work = Superior Culture...
I was watching television over the holiday weekend, and there was one particular show (I shall not name it here) which took a look at various cultures and the bizarre, and sometimes macabre,
rituals and traditions in which they indulge.

There were the tribal people of Turkey, who spend and entire day whipping each other bloody with knotted ropes and ripping each other's clothes off, presumably to ensure a healthy harvest. Or was it the health of their goats? I forget which, but it was something similarly silly. What was even sillier is watching men tear each other's clothes off in order to expose each other's bellies, buttocks, backs -- and other sensitive areas -- just so the knotted rope will sting that much more and inflict greater pain. I'm certain there is some proscription of this sort of activity between grown men somewhere in the Koran (which I thought all these folks believed in and took literally), but I can't be bothered to find it.

Then we're informed that the folk of a particular Central American culture set aside a special day every year to beat the snot out of complete strangers. Two men walk up to each other, and start throwing punches and kicks. Once combat begins, no one is allowed out unless he's totally unconscious, in need of serious medical attention, or perhaps dead. The 'winner', who himself may be wounded and bloody, is then challenged by other people at random until he too, succumbs. Eventually, the entire male population is bloody, bruised, battered and brain damaged. Why do they do this? To ensure the favor of the Sun God, who requires blood sacrifice. This, we're told, hearkens back to the days of the Aztec Empire, when 20,000 people a day might have had their beating hearts ripped from their chests to satiate the Sun God's need for fresh human blood. Good to see that Aztec religious ritual has softened with the advance of civilization.

Also from Central America, there is the festival which commemorates the eruption of a volcano, and which is re-enacted by people who throw balls of cloth soaked in flammable substances, set aflame, at each other. Whoever can dodge the flaming missiles is ensured good luck, or minty clean breath, or whatever, while the slow and uncoordinated can look forward to -second and -third degree burns. Occasionally, we're told, the fight gets out of hand and the errant missiles may set someones home ablaze, or start a forest fire, or even burn down the crops. Naturally, this happens because you're allowed to throw fireballs wherever you goddamned please, at whoever you goddamned please, without rules, warning or even basic safety precautions. Doing so would cheat the ritual of it's ambiance, I guess.

The entire panoply of human stupidity was on display: walking barefoot across 1,000-degree coals. Body piercing and tattooing. Hooks inserted into the fleshy parts of people's bodies so that they could be suspended from ropes. Re-enactments of the crucifixion of Christ, complete with real nails, crowns of thorns and scourges. People standing in circles, in full tribal regalia, hitting each other with sticks and spears, or blowing poison darts at each other. Others found celebration in self-mutilation: the piercing or slitting of lips, eyelids, ears and unmentionable parts, usually for the purpose of inserting a very large object into the incision, which apparently serves no useful function. Blindfolded people encouraged to swing blindly at each other within a confined space.

Let's also not forget the elaborate, decorative and garishly-pigmented penis gourds, with which primitive men attempt to overawe each other.

I noticed a few things between being alternately skeeved and stunned by the stupidity of my fellow man. The first thing I noticed was that the poorer the participants seemed to be, the more importance they placed upon their stupid ritual. As corollaries, the poorer and more educationally-deprived the practitioners seemed to be, the more violent the ritual itself, and the more likely the brutal ritual was to have some connection with sex.

The second thing I noticed is that all of the places where the most brutal, ridiculous, painful and least-rewarding activities took place look as if they are still in the Stick Age. Wait, that may be too generous. They are still in the Mud Age.

Third point: the more brutal, ridiculous, painful and non-rewarding the activity, the more resources the people who practice them seem to invest in them.

By now, what passes for an intellectual process in my house kicked in. No wonder these people are so incredibly poor, ignorant, backwards and incapable of making the great leap into the modern world: they would rather devote their energies to figuring out how to beat each other senseless for religious purposes, proclaim their sexual prowess by demonstrating how far a bamboo pole can be inserted into their rectum, or lay naked and slathered in honey atop a fire ant nest to endure thousands of stings -- just for the right to the good piece of the antelope.

Granted, there are some stupid practices in the Western World: the running of bulls in Spain, organized street fights with fresh fruit in Italy, anything having to do with people wallowing in mud in the British Isles, Rodeo and NASCAR in America. But if some of the folks in South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East could, for a day, be given the perspective of a 'sophisticated' Westerner so that they may observe their own culture doing that which it normally does, they'd probably be very embarrassed.

They might also realize that figuring out how to sodomize a camel as a right of passage is a waste of time compared to studying chemistry, reading Shakespeare or building something out of a material other than mud and animal skins. They might even be sufficiently embarrassed to begin to realize that their lot in life will never, ever approach even that available to even the dumbest, laziest Westerner.

And then they might get mad and perhaps learn to do something worthwhile.

I've been listening to the multi-culti advocates for what seems like decades now, extolling the virtues of all cultures as being equal. After what I've seen, I think anyone who continues to believe that should be taken out and made to live that way. let's see how quickly that 'equal' culture becomes unbearable to the sappy moron when there's no flush toilets, mosquitoes are your constant companions, and you get your ass kicked daily to ensure the Fire God doesn't destroy your bamboo-and-palm-leaf village again this week.

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