Lessons From Game Of Thrones – Melisandre and extremism as an antidote to reason…

The human race has always lived in the shadow of dogma.  It has perverted our history in many a violent way and has sowed the seeds of self-destruction for more than one society.

For the most part, dogma abhors a vacuum. Just when we think we have conquered ignorance, dogma finds a new entry point.  Truth be told, even in our modern world we aren’t making enlightened progress, we are merely shuffling the deck with the dogma du jour.

Devotion or Madness?

Melisandre is the red fire priestess on Game Of Thrones who worships the Lord of Light.  She feels that the Lord has spoken to her through the flames and that it is His will for  Stannis Baratheon to rule Westeros.

Religious fervor often has a nasty way of wandering from the path of piety towards dogma and in this example towards cruelty and madness.  For Melisandre, what started as the burning of “idols” (religious artifacts of other “heretical” religions) morphed rather rapidly into a nasty habit of burning people alive as sacrifices to the Lord of Light.

The clip below shows Melisandre ominously convincing a mother that the Lord of light “needs” her daughter.   Apparently, the intent is to eventually sacrifice Shireen to the fire because the red lady had a vision.

There is no reasoning with this kind of extremism.  When this type of blind faith rears its head it takes a monumental event to turn the tide back towards reason and sanity.

The Spanish Inquisition Anyone?

There are plenty of examples of religious extremism in our history that certainly rival the deeds of Melisandre.  We don’t even have to go back to the Spanish Inquisition.  We need only to look at the terrorist acts of 9/11 in our own time to see that religious extremism is alive and well.  Want a Christian example?  The powder keg that was Branch Davidians  and their 1993 showdown with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Texas  comes to mind.

It’s not just about religion…

Such mindless passions are not limited to matters of religion.  They include issues such as climate change denial, supply-side economics, the anti-vaccine movement as well as 2nd amendment issues and gun laws.

An entire anti-science crusade  has been raging throughout the US.  Textbooks explaining evolution have been banned in some states.  Global climate change deniers are out in force generally supported by the oil, gas, and coal industries.  Although some of this has its basis in biblical scripture, much of this anti-science sentiment is clever propaganda brought to you by such business interests as the oil and coal industries who fear that “creative destruction” in clean technology will impact their profits.

Make no mistake, we are all susceptible…no one is immune.  The supposedly well-educated also fall prey to misinformation and extremism. The anti-vaccination epidemic is largely a blue state problem.  In this case it is the well-educated, well-heeled Whole Foods crowd that is dominating the discussion – and creating the potential for a revival of epidemics of now preventable disease.

 

Dogma  is the absence of reason…

People don’t like their dogma diluted by facts.  As Daniel Patrick Moynihan  was famously quoted “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts”.  However, like Melisandre, there are  many people who are beyond reasoning regardless of the facts.

The people of Westeros used witchcraft and ravens to spread misinformation and dogma.  Today we use Twitter, Facebook and blogs.  This is particularly dangerous today because true investigative reporting appears to by a dying art.  These days the internet can spread rumors in the blink of an eye as misinformation goes “viral”.

No matter how it spreads, The absence of reason  breeds a contempt for facts.  In such cases people can die, economies can crash, epidemics can spread and even the planet we live on could be become uninhabitable.

© 2014 – RGHicks – http://ReinnovatingAmerica.com – All rights reserved.

 

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