Saturday, November 11, 2017

Opinions Are Like Arseholes (And I've Known a Few)

Pisces Iscariot (L) puts on a brave face (1980)

There are no atheists in foxholes goes the aphorism.

40 odd years ago, aged 18, I stood (along with a few hundred others) at a sermon that provided us with the assurance that what we were about to do had been authorised by the highest power. I cannot remember if the chaplain actually uttered the words “God is on our side” but he did convey the message.
South Africa’s involvement in the destabilisation of Angola was, to those who knew better, an essential act in the prevention of the expansion of communism, and South Africa was a deeply Christian country (of the Orange/Lutheran variety), perfectly suited and (with US and Israeli assistance) equipped to perform the Lord's work .
Our week long soirée into Angola, complete with mass artillery bombardment, looting, murder and long term damage to the country and its inhabitants, was therefore an act of God (or at least, an act condoned by God)
At the time this only troubled me by the fact that I, being a conscript, did not want to be there.
There was, however, a significant event that occurred during that week that echoes down the years for me: during one night the Artillery battery of which I was a part found itself caught in the crossfire between a group of mercenaries and a group of Angolan soldiers.
As the red tracers streaked above our heads I prayed hard that I would not die.

There are no atheists in foxholes

In order for a man to willingly fight for his country he must firstly believe in his country.
In order for a man to be willing to die for his country he must believe that some reward will await him in the hereafter.
He must, therefore believe in a hereafter.

There are no atheists in foxholes

An atheist knows the value of his own life – finite and singular, not to be wasted or spent unwisely on causes that serve none but the powerful.

Islamists. Terrorism. Trump. Afghanistan. Corruption. North Korea. Syria. Dispair. Inequality. Palestine. Egypt. Libya. Rampant Neo-Capitalism. Amerika. Seventeen years into the 21st century and the West has declared war on just about everything, and ,here in Britain at least, there is strong pressure to conform to the rituals of remembrance of those killed in war, as if war itself is inevitable and the heroic and patriotic fallen are the price we must pay.
The system applies social guilt in order to make it obligatory to wear a poppy, 2 minute silences are observed in workplaces and schools across the country – all while daily doses of dead soldiers and civilians.
What is it that we are being asked to remember?
The dead soldiers?
The heroism and patriotism of those dead soldiers?
How can we honour those who died in those wars while standing beside the warmongers who continue to continue to glorify war itself?
These hollow men who tell us that the wars we are fighting are just, are for the good of those being slaughtered, for democracy, would have us believe that to die for one’s country makes us heroes; valiant and brave.
Should we not be remembering those politicians, kings and the industry that profits most from war?
Should we not, on these ceremonies of remembrance, be making personal pledges not to involve ourselves with the patriotic politics and fanatical religion of war-mongering?

If I had died that night in 1980, I would have died in fear, for a lie, begging to a God that does not exist; and for what? South Africa is no longer run by those vicious god-fearing bastards who filled our heads with the belief that our white skins make us superior, who felt no remorse in raping their black slaves after spending their Sabbath in righteous prayer, who quoted the bible in justification for all their hatred and prejudice.
If I had died in 1980, I would not have died an atheist.

Thankfully I am no longer a god-fearing man.

There are no atheists in foxholes

Pisces Iscariot: atheist

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