Saturday I stopped at the Albertsons to pick up a few groceries. As I was standing in the aisle, puzzled, trying to make the correct choice from the various brands of organic quinoa on offer (who am I kidding, I was in the candy aisle trying to find the best price-per-pound available on dark chocolate), I became aware of a conversation happening just a couple strides to my left. An Albertsons employee — a young woman, maybe late-20’s/early-30s — had a table set up where she was giving samples out. She was engaged in excited discussion with a man who looked old as dirt, but in reality was probably my age, if not a little younger.
They were discussing our 44th and current President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama II.
I don’t like to talk too much politics or religion around here, but I can’t not talk about these two. I couldn’t hear the woman so well, as she had her back to me, but the man was reasonably audible as he was facing me. I couldn’t pick up every word, but the gist of his points were this:
- Obama is a proven, and self-admitted, Muslim
- “What are people going to do when he ‘dies’,” the man said, making air quotes with his fingers, “and rises again as the anti-Christ?”
- A minute or so of explanation about all the events detailed in the Quran that line up with things Obama has done that prove he is, indeed, the anti-Christ, and will, indeed, rise from the dead
- A moving statement about how much he feels sorry for people who can’t see this truth, particularly because they aren’t acting with their own minds and are essentially zombies
- “They’re brainwashed!” I clearly heard the woman offer with particular enthusiasm, like the child who suddenly finds that, against all odds, she has the answer to the question the teacher throws out to the room
There was more, but I didn’t stick around to listen; I’d found the chocolate I was looking for. I considered politely interrupting and asking, “Excuse me, but you people don’t actually believe this horseshit, do you?” But I didn’t, I just went on about my business of driving home, followed by cruising the park with my hot undead wife looking for brains of the living to dine upon.
Look, you ask me, and I’m going to cop to believing in some crazy stuff. Aliens? Who doesn’t? Bigfoot? Are you kidding me, of course! But I’ll say so with a twinkle in my eye, parrying a “But science has never proven they exist!” with “AHA! But it hasn’t proven they DON’T either, so FACE!” There are things I believe in because I want to. It makes life more interesting. More fun!
You can say the same thing about religion. If faith brings you comfort, if you can be peaceful about it and not try and force your ideas on me, I’m totally cool with whatever gets you through your day. Truly. There are plenty of solid teachings there that, if more people followed them, the world would probably be a better place, and I think some people find a much needed community in faith. Peace and love; do unto others; and it harm none, do what you will shall be the whole of the law.
To me, believing in the existence of some large, hairy, unseen denizen of the Pacific Northwest isn’t so different from believing in, I mean literally believing in, the majority of the characters in the Bible, right up to Jesus himself. There’s more valid scholarship questioning his actual existence in fact than there is proving Sasquatch doesn’t exist, for that matter. But hey, whatever floats your ark. Like I said, it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, as long as you don’t try pushing others around with your beliefs. It would help if you stay away from all the stoning and murder and all that other creepy shit those old bastards snuck into the holy text too.
Still, when faced with zealotry and ignorance like I overheard in Albertsons the other day, it blows my mind and is a little frightening. To think there are people that actually believe that stuff, in the USA, in 2014, is amazing. I don’t know how they manage it. Look at the statistics for the USA these days for how many people believe in some of these wackier ideas, or don’t believe in others — particularly as it relates to little things like evolution and/or climate change, “theories” that are as close to scientific fact as little theories like, I don’t know, GRAVITY — and then you will know why I feel like we are pretty much doomed.
As for Obama, well. I see my share of stupid bumperstickers, email jokes, whatever. The racist ones in particular make me shake my head. When you play that stuff you’re poking fun at a guy while displaying your own vastly underdeveloped intellect. I’m no fan, didn’t vote for him (I haven’t voted either R or D in the presidential election since 1996, but this being Montana, with all of two electoral votes, my vote in that particular race means do-dah anyway), but I wouldn’t say for all of his disappointments it’s not like he’s failed in everything. He’s about what I expected, which is why I never got on his bandwagon.
The political discourse toward the man has been enlightening as to how screwed the USA is these days. I don’t see it changing. I just hope we don’t run out of brains to feed on before Obama comes back from the other side with hellfire in one hand and shark mouths for fingers on the other. Politics in general, for crissakes. Is there a larger group of mostly old, mostly white men who are more out of touch with the rest of us than those we elect? We pretty much have the country and government we deserve. Kudos to those people who still have the energy to try and change some things here and there.