Warning: May Require EffortWith The Pope’s™ recent visit to the United States now over, I can’t help but notice the entire country is embroiled in an angry tizzy over who’s “right” and “wrong” in accordance with the spiritual plane. Atheists and religious folks of all stripes are up in arms over what the Pontiff did or didn’t say, and to whom. Meanwhile, all this back-and-forth only serves to FURTHER muddy the waters of impolite discourse (presuming that’s even remotely possible).

But the truth is simpler. Everybody has essentially the same moral code; different people just invoke and apply it differently based on personal (and often diametrically opposed) beliefs about how certain processes and functions of the universe actually work, and why.

So for the most part everybody believes they are right, and most of the time they set out to do what’s right, according to the same basic moral code— that justice should be served, that fair is fair, that the deserving should be rewarded and ill-doers punished, and that the good should be protected.

As much as we’d like to believe that evil-doers are purposely wicked, mustache-twirling villains who understand they are behaving wrongly (and who openly embrace it, muhahaha!), that’s almost never the case (with the exception of the occasional sociopath or psychopath).

Actually, everyone is trying to do the right thing.

Except, what anyone believes “the right thing” happens to be, in any given instance, is based upon their personal subjective beliefs about how the world works, and why. Or upon specifics directly related to the behavior in question.

Unfortunately, a lot of those beliefs fall into the area of “can’t be proven” or “a matter of opinion.” So both sides believe they are in the right, and are therefore the “good guys,” and both sides believe the other side is in the wrong and are therefore the “bad guys.”

Meanwhile, rabid fanatics at both ends of the spectrum scream endlessly at each other, hoping to censor opposing opinion by drowning the other side out.

FYI: It is my personal opinion that ANY force that further polarizes an already confusing and difficult conundrum by trying to silence discussion and close down any process of reconciliation or compromise between sides is, in my opinion, the true villain in most situations.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to create ANY kind of grassroots moral movement intended to change or fix things, since here in the good ‘ol USA all such movements are targeted by the establishment for potential co-option, corruption, or destruction the moment they appear on the national map. The Tea Party, for instance, began as a grassroots movement that was just essentially anti-big government and kind of cool. Until it earned enough attention and popularity that big conservative money got involved and started pouring cash into it. That led to an effort to consolidate ALL conservative fringe movements into one group under the nominal umbrella “Tea Party” in order to pull libertarian-leaning voters into the GOP. The fringers got more and more radical until they took over the movement, pushing pro-gun and hard line religious causes, hoping to revitalize the fading core of the dwindling Moral Majority as a united voting bloc. So the name and much of the identity of the Tea Party got fatally co-opted by radical fanatics and hate groups.

Like so many other grassroots movements, it lost much of its potential clout when it turned so anti-government that the GOP couldn’t control it, and became a divisive force (rather than a unifying one) in conservative politics. The attempt to use that movement to galvanize the GOP backfired on the GOP establishment. For the record, I personally agree with a few of the early positions of the Tea Party movement, but seriously disagree with most that came later. But like Occupy Wall Street, big government ultimately decided just to detour around them to defend the status quo. No sweeping changes on either side are to be contemplated, it would seem— or so the present establishment would have it. Big government has worked hard to effectively marginalize both movements at their original grass roots levels.

Meanwhile, no organization can escape the creeping hand of corruption… even in the amazing fun-filled world of non-profit corporations. There’s a whole lot of money to be made performing charitable works, especially if that money is tax exempt. After all, that IS the main reason that non-profit companies exist, right? Non-profit means “never having to say you’re sorry.”

Non-profit also (supposedly) means “we rob from the rich and give to the poor.” Or any number of pithy witticisms of that sort, most of which are only partly correct. All “non-profit” really means is that the company or corporation in question is legally classified by the government as an organization that performs its business in service of the public interest, and that it isn’t specifically guided by the desire always to do the most monetarily-profitable thing in a given situation. Therefore, any non-profit corporation can be subverted from within by corrupt individuals and turned into soulless money farms, posturing publicly as heroic social saviors while secretly diverting millions for personal uses. Sadly, this is the fate of too many “mega-churches,” which often wind up becoming the equivalent of temples full of usurers and moneychangers. Methinks Jesus would not approve. But since the newfangled “Prosperity Christianity” has essentially ignored or rewritten everything Jesus said about monetary greed (changing it to something they like better), it would seem their Savior’s inconvenient commandments no longer hold sway over that current batch of His followers.

These days I see constant attempts by screaming pundits to pit science versus religion as some sort of “all or nothing” dichotomy. Which is dumb. Unless you are one of those “all or nothing” assholes that like to turn pleasant cocktail parties into screaming free-for-alls in order to get your own personal jollies and assuage your pet resentments or self-esteem issues by shouting other people into silence. If you are, well, then, knock yourself out. As long as you are at someone ELSE’S cocktail party (show up at MY house and rest assured, I’M the one who will most probably do the actual “knocking out.”)

(To be continued)