Religion ist das Opium des Volkes

To save you from a Google search, the English translation is something like: Religion is the opiate of the masses. Go to the head of the class if you know this is something Karl Marx opined. The photo should have been a hint.

There are three locked and loaded realities in this country that keeps our ruling class, ruling: a knee on BIPOC’s necks, Trumpism, and religion ist das opium des volkes. BIPOC is obvious. If you do not get that, stop reading. Trumpism should now be obvious. Layer on this our country’s worship of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. While wealth is colorblind, sorta, white supremacists are inbred and a self-appointed militia to control BIPOC and whoever else they deem a target — spurred on by the ruling class.

The third reality — religion is the opiate of the masses, plus bromides, pabulum and placebos are subtler, but are actually the most pervasive.

I have never been a Karl Marx devotee, but he did have his moments, this being one. Without crawling inside his brain, I believe he meant that religion serves the ruling class in keeping the masses down, or at the least, anesthetized. There are so many examples of this that it is hard to know where to begin. Okay one: In Los Angeles, white households have a median net worth of $355,000 while black households have a median worth of $4,000, based on a 2019 report by Duke University — the fundamental difference — home ownership.

Straight up, our culture is full of bromides, in our sayings (Count your blessings), in our songs (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”), and in our religions. We are fed a daily diet. And, in too many cases, drugs (think opiods) keep us behaving and not resisting or rebelling. There are many ways to numb or quell pain or anger. All are coping mechanisms. Why do we need so many?

In the United States we say we have three classes: lower, middle and upper. To quote Lili Von Shtupp from “Blazing Saddles,” “How ordinary.” I think we need something edgier. How about the Homeless Class, Food Stamps Class, I Cannot Afford College for My Kids Class, Cruising Class, the First Class Class, and I Have My Own Jet Class? That last class could also be called the “Fuck You, I’ve Got Mine Class.”

Yes, that is six classes. There are more, but this is a short blog. The people in the I Have My Own Jet Class live in Never, Never Land behind walls and gates with guards, meaning they never have to mingle with the rest of us debtors and unwashed. I thought about calling the Fuck You Class, the I Don’t Care Class, but there are plenty of Ayn Rand devotees in the I Cannot Afford College and the Cruising Classes. The Fuck You Class is heavily populated by the Lucky Sperm Club. They have already hit a home run, or minimally were born on third base.

I missed that club. I blame my parents.

The problem with White Supremacists is that someone told them they were born on third base and they are pissed because they are still stranded. Never mind that they refused to take batting practice or hire a hitting coach, or pursue more education, or retrain, or move.

The born-on-third-base concept is a popular meme. Most of us were born up-to-bat, and were handed a bat, at least Whites were, even populist Whites. BIPOC — fugetaboutit. BIPOC’s batted with one arm and one leg missing and were told to make it to first. If they got close, someone moved the bag.

But, even White populists were given little to swing at — lots of curve balls. When they did, they usually swung for the bleachers. No base hits for them — try to hit a homerun. Who could blame them? In reality, they struck out all of the time. Ever wonder why the lotteries are so popular?

What is the religious bromide, among so many? God works in mysterious ways. Yep, that pretty much takes care of every piece of unexplained crap that happens to us. If a child dies too young, whether by genetic malfunction or shit happens, God works in mysterious ways.

There is a Facebook bromide that goes like this: If you have a family that loves you, a few good friends, food on the table, and a roof over your head, you are richer than you think. No, you are not.

Also, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Okay, and how about incapacitation — part of God’s plan? Was it God’s plan for the Lucky Sperm Club to inherit their wealth? Was it part of God’s plan for Trump to lose the popular vote and still become president?

My Mom used to say, “It is not what happens to us that matters, it is what we do with what happens to us that matters.” Bless my Mom. But, let’s break that down. Natural disasters — check. Birthing complications — check. Accidents caused by another person — check. Getting fired after a raise and great performance review — check. Your spouse falls in love with another and leaves — check. The rest of it is shit manipulated on us. It matters.

I grew up a populist on a small farm in north-central Indiana. You know, the little guy. I am known for saying, “We never had any money, but we weren’t poor.” Yes, we were. Not Grapes of Wrath poor, but still poor.

I am still a populist at heart. Now, Trumpers, consider themselves populists, as does the media. Bullshit. Populists were never fascists. Populists just wanted a seat at the table. Trumpers want to rule, along side the ruling class. Memo to Trumpers: the ruling class will not share their power; they just want your money and your votes — for now.

At least I got an education, moved to where the jobs were, scored on the marriage-front, saw large parts of the world to expand my worldview, and did well on emotional IQ tests. I had many at bats. I received some coaching. Still, a base hit now and then was all I could muster. It will be our little secret how much I have lost in the stock market over thirty-plus years. I needed more coaching, and the high-paid financial consultants the ruling class hires. And, I could never batter down the walls of the publishing industry and always self-published.

In my case, it was a bit like “How ya gonna keep’em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?”

Jimmy Buffet wrote a song, a favorite mine, called “He Went To Paris.” This guy also saw Paree, “searching for answers to questions that bothered him so.” Instead, he ended up moving to England, lost his wife and son to WWII, lost an eye, and “hopped on a freighter and skidded the ocean.” So now he “lives in the islands, fishes the pylons and drinks his green label each day. He’s writing his memoirs and losing his hearing, but he don’t care what most people say. Through eighty-six years of perpetual motion, if he likes you he’ll smile and he’ll say, ‘Some of its magic, and some of its tragic, but I had a good life all the way.’”

I wish him luck on finding a publisher for his memoirs.

My favorite saying about life is that it is one, long, forced march into enemy territory. My second favorite saying is to celebrate the small victories, like the base hits. That is also a bromide. What do we call participation medals or ribbons — base hits?

We have to ask ourselves how the wealthy and corporations continue to be successful at not only holding onto power but why their wealth acceleration is in fifth gear, while the rest of us are in neutral. How do they continue to con voters with cries of socialism, stolen elections, gay marriage, NIMBY, and critical race theory, while stuffing their bank accounts? Nothing here, move along.

Look, I do not foresee or even wish for equity across the board, other than equity in opportunity. We need a more level playing field. But, at some point we earn our destiny. Fair enough. But, here it is — the gap between rich and poor is off the charts, and getting worse. That did not occur happenstance. It was not God’s will.

We can continue to swallow bromides, pabulum and placebos, or we can push back, assuming we are still allowed to vote.

Those who stormed the Capitol on January 6th are not those who may soon be storming.

Writer of books, columns and blogs; historical fiction, humor, satire, social commentary. Cook (the good, bad and oops). Disaster relief volunteer. Traveler.