I find it fascinating how much lies have influenced the world. We can go deep and far back in time to discuss the flaws in human nature and how a big, proud lie helped to form nations, empires, religions; has caused wars, death, collapse and apocalyptic visions. This should be a several part series that I will pursue here over a long stretch of time. By the time I get to today I suspect I will run into some trouble. The world of today is so consumed with lies, with the lies we tell to ourselves and the lies of others that we force to come true, it is a hard mountain to climb and I hope to reach the top eventually. But for now let us forget about the Age of Trump and go back into the very earliest civilizations.
“Lies in the Ancient World, Part One”
Egypt comes to mind when we think about the ancient world. That fine world empire (or at least the part of the world that was then known to be), with their glorious pyramids and idols to their many gods, Egypt has had an enormous influence on every civilization that followed. You could say the same thing, I guess, for ancient Greece and Rome and China and Sumeria and Babylon, but we will get to that later. For now let’s look at Egypt and see how much damage they caused to our mutual future.
Now of course Egypt was a society that functioned on slavery, and anyone who was not one of the elect or one of the prized soldiers protecting the king, they were slaves. They were all slaves. It was a culture exclusively of slaves and masters.
But there was a way to keep the slaves in check, a way to stop the occasional revolts and to give them the idea of a better life once all of their work is done. Today we call this religion; back then it was a polytheistic faith organized into a pantheon of gods.
Polytheism is a far more democratic form of religion than the ones we know today. In monotheism there is only one God, one creator to argue about, to assign meanings and desires and to cause every war in the history of man. But in polytheistic faiths, each individual can select their personal god, their patron saint, the character that represents all of their sins and desires and will excuse them for anything. Even worshipers of death: murderers, rapists and theives, they all have their gods and everyone could justify their actions as a sacrifice to their lord.
Of course there were holy wars and the biblical stories they told built, eventually, the hierarchy of the gods, with Ra and Amun and Aker and Osiris and his son Horus and his mother Isis and Bast and Set and so many, many more being the leading figures of the faith. They were the highest gods, representing worship of the sun, the earth, the ocean, eternal life and death, love, protection and evil. If today we had all of these things to separate people into aligned faiths, there would be much less horror in the world, much less classes over my God is better than your god (iii.i).
Not that the world of ancient Egypt wasn’t filled with horror. Kings could randomly have hordes of people killed for a whim, could kidnap and rape small children because they were ruled by their perverted desires. Kings could declare the worship of, say Set, illegal and they would round up all his followers and detain them, convert them, or have them killed. We have evolved very little today.
Sometimes there were marital difficulties, Osiris and Isis trying to claw one another’s eyes out and their son, Horus, sulking off to the hunt where he would bitterly kill anything he came across . . . Of course these are parables. Of course all of these things actually happened and were excused after additional sacrifices were made.
The king (pharaoh, fine) would one day eventually decide that he needed more power over his slaves. And so he invented, he completely made up, he lied to the whole population and said that he was next to Ra (or Ptah or one of those many others representing celestial power). He claimed that he and all of his descendants had been chosen by god to reign for eternity. He was also a god, their messiah, the one man who was more than a man and who could keep the world safe from all the angry predators and barbarians who hunted them at night. He, the pharaoh, was all seeing and all knowing and all powerful, and if anyone were to plot against him he would know. He knows all. Yes, you ignorant, illiterate slaves–I know everything about you!
And this is the lie. This is the lie that set the path in motion. Without this lie, who knows what Moses may have become. He may have just accepted his role as an Egyptian master, childhood friends with the coming pharaoh. He may have led a charmed life instead of one filled with danger and mystical nonsense that clearly never happened. But the important thing here is that it was a brutal and psychopathic lie that gave birth to the first monotheism, to a faith where their God was one, and was therefore more powerful than all of those cat or bird-headed monsters and would bring the slaves to salvation, to freedom, to a better world. . .
In our next discussion we will chronicle the war between polytheism and monotheism up to the age of Jesus Christ. And since this is editorial history and not biblical or narrative history, clearly some of what I will be stating is sheer opinion backed up by nothing other than an understanding of historical movements and changes. I have studied all this nonsense really hard throughout my life and hopefully and can offer some opinion-based insight. But this is editorial history. I am here to record it.
To be continued. . . .