Back in my convent days as a young kid, the Catholic nuns from Ireland got us learning the catechism. It was a little book and we used to get it out and recite the answers as the good nuns read out the questions.
I might insert here that the brainwashing failed miserably with me and, I fervently hope, with a whole heap of other kids too.
But I can still remember the following:
Q: Is the Pope infallible?
A: Yes, the Pope is infallible.
It’s stuck in my mind because, even at the tender age of seven, the idea that a person could always be right seemed, well, not quite right.
Because we all make mistakes, only Popes – when issuing doctrines – are supposed to be divinely guided so as not to make mistakes. Which is is just not realistic, because Popes, like us, are human. They get it wrong from time to time. And the important thing to remember is that human beings reflect the times and thinking in which they live.
Q. Are government leaders infallible.
A. (Conventional) Yes, government leaders are infallible.
A. (People) No. In fact, they can stage some monumental screw-ups, while doing their best to line the pockets of the 1% super-wealthy.
Q. Is it the end of the world if a government leader stuffs up the rush to war in Syria?
A. (Conventional) Yes, it is the end of the world. Government leaders must be heard and obeyed. That which Governments put to Parliament must be passed otherwise the existing world order will collapse and we will wake the next day to find fragments of the sky on our backyard lawns (and even in the streets in front of our homes!).
A.(People) No, it’s not the end of the world. It’s democracy. And our will has prevailed not to go to yet another spruiked-up, dead-end, endless war for Saudi Arabia, the armaments manufacturers and warmongers because we don’t believe the damned lies.
I have actually been laughing my head off this week at the dismay among the powers-that-be, various newspaper commentators and various other supporters of “the government must be obeyed” mantra that the vote to authorise “military action” (aka war) in the British parliament was lost and went straight down the gurgler.
Pundits have been proclaiming it’s the end of empire (which can’t come soon enough), letting down Britain’s precious and special relationship with the US administration, leaving President Obama in the lurch, and behaving as if a vote NOT to go to war is an absolute catastrophe.
When you think about it, deciding NOT to go to war is an act of sense and sensibility which is quite awesome and could herald the beginning of changes in the great sweep of history as we could – gasp, shock, horror and awe – see the stirrings of people demanding real democracy not token gestures in institutions increasingly geared to the moneymakers while impoverishing the rest of us.
It might come as a surprise too to those pompous twerps spruiking about special relationships that a good many people here, in Europe and in Australia don’t care to be the go-to guy or the policeman for the US administration’s military adventures. It was a catastrophic failure of British Prime Minister Blair and Australian Prime Minister Howard to agree to be part of the “coalition of the willing” when President Bush and his offsider escapees from Dr Strangelove decided to go to an illegal war in Iraq – for oil, for strategic presence, and to get closer to Iran to attack that country for its oil and pathway to China.
What I find interesting is that political leaders in the UK, the US, Australia and France are so gobmacked that people are not taking them at their word, are questioning the increasingly hysterical cries about the “good” of the Syrian people from the very same leaders who’ve watched 100,000 people get killed over the past couple of years and been stumm, and who are also questioning the rush to war without waiting for the United Nations to assess the findings of its teams in Syria investigating the recent chemical attack.
I’m reminded of Bob Dylan’s song: “The Times They Are A’Changing” when you look around at the current upheavals and challenges to the accepted order. I’m an optimist. I do live in hope that we are moving towards a time when people think for themselves, grow up, stop believing that government leaders are infallible and rely on themselves and other people to move in large numbers to make peace not war a legitimate and respected goal rather than one which so often nowadays is treated with ridicule and contempt.