“There are two types of common mob:
Many people these days, especially in Western developed countries, are aware of the dangers of the Believers. Images of the Spanish Inquisition easily come to mind. But this is precisely what leaves us susceptible to falling into the other type of mob, the Nonbelievers.
The Nonbelievers believe that they are above the common mob, more reasonable, more educated, more grounded, more self-aware, more careful in their intellectual discrimination, more pragmatic. The Nonbelievers believe that most of the common mob are clueless, religious, fantasy-prone, gullible, irrational Believers. And that this is the greatest danger to the world.
In a delicious twist of irony, the Nonbelievers believe they are above belief! They reason: if only the Believers were more pragmatic, like us Nonbelievers, if only they stopped believing so damn much, most of the world’s problems would be fixed!
But actually, most of the mob are Believers in name only. Their behaviors and actions are more like that of Nonbelievers. Meaning, these people are extremely pragmatic, materialistic, and selfish. They are Believers only in a pragmatic fashion that serves their materialistic needs. So actually, this means that Believers have a lot more in common with Nonbelievers than Nonbelievers would like to admit.
Take even a fundamentalist Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, and look at his everyday life and his everyday thinking, and you’ll see a person driven almost exclusively by pragmatic concerns, even in his church activities. The superstitious, fantastical elements will only be paid lip-service to. Look at the Catholic church in the Vatican. Do they spend more time and effort counting money and running their bureaucracy, or realizing God? Do Hindu’s spend more time and effort planning their weddings, or realizing God?
The Nonbelievers commit the great blunder of misreading the psychological drivers of the mob. The mob is not too superstitious and fantastical, the mob is exactly the opposite: it’s totally wrapped up in the pragmatic, mundane, materialistic world. The mob is not concerned with spiritual matters at all. The mob is concerned with money, power, security, status, community, family, entertainment, and sex. All purely secular values. Another way to put it is, the mob is concerned with self-survival, or business. As in, busy-ness. The mob is too busy with the never-ending activity of life and conquering the material world to care about anything supernatural. Like a hive of ants mindlessly devouring carcass after carcass after carcass, always busy maintaining their hive. Their eyes are so busy glued to the ground, they don’t have time to look up towards the sky.
Doesn’t that perfectly describe the common human condition? Isn’t that what has you personally stuck in your life? How about everyone you know? Isn’t it not a problem of over-religiousness, but a problem of over-secularism? Check all your addictions, bad habits, and greatest time sinks. Aren’t they all secular? Even the seemingly religious ones are actually, under their veneer, secular. The Believers and the Nonbelievers BOTH worship the same set of values, only the Nonbelievers are a little more honest about their materialism. But a little less honest about being part of the mob.
The Believers and Nonbelievers absolutely LOVE to fight with each other. It’s their favorite pass-time. Come gather around the debate platform and bring the popcorn. “Our side is gonna show those fools just how foolish they’ve been all along! Ha ha! Check make! We knew our side was right!”
Nonbelievers believe that the mob is so superstitious that it will burn whoever disagrees with them at the stake. Nonbelievers believe that Believers are bad because they are responsible for all the witch burnings. “How barbaric of them! How illiberal!” But actually, the greater harm comes from Nonbelievers, who’s favorite weapon of choice is not burning at the stake, but false skepticism and unchecked pragmatism. They will use their pragmatic, logical mind to dismiss everything outside their circular pragmatic paradigm. The issue is one of dismissal. Will you or won’t you dismiss whatever lies outside your paradigm? It doesn’t much matter what your favorite weapon of dismissal is: burning at the stake, or reasoning the other to death.
The real danger today is not superstition, the real danger is pragmatism. And this has always been the case, even 2000 years ago. When people become too pragmatic, they lose sign of the big picture of life and they cannot soak themselves in the tempering and pacifying effects of true spirituality. Because true spirituality is utterly unpragmatic. It has no value, no meaning, no goal. It cannot help your ego advance itself in any way.
If the world comes to an end, it will not be because of Believers, but Nonbelievers, as they slowly boil everyone of us alive in their pragmatic juices. Over-pragmatism has been at the root of most of humanity’s problems for over 5000 years.
So watch out! When you think you’ve escaped the mob, check that you’re not right in the eye of the storm.”