The End of Magical Thinking

The End of Magical Thinking

“The American voter isn’t stupid,” I hear politicians say. Au contraire… the American voter is infinitely stupid, especially those in the red states.

“The election was stolen.”

“Government isn’t the solution, government is the problem.” (Reagan)

“Global warming is a hoax.”

“Immigrants are the cause of your problems, not the top .01% Ivy League elites who own 50% of America’s wealth.”

“We have the best healthcare system in the world.”

“Cutting taxes on the rich will create trickle-down wealth.”

“The democrats are socialists.”

“Media is the enemy of the people.”

“Free-market economy,” and   “The invisible hand (Adam Smith)”

The list goes on and on. Why do people believe such bullshit? Simple: religion!

The Beginning of Magical Thinking

We start by telling our children about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Then we send them to Sunday School where they hear about the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, Noah’s Ark, Moses and the Ten Commandments, and that God hates gays.

Two months ago, I had two boys (9 and 11) in our neighborhood wash my car. A few days later, I was driving by and saw them playing in the street. I called over, “Hey August and Charlie, guess what happened?” “What?” “I was in downtown Redwood City and I got this huge award for having the cleanest car in town. They gave me $1,000.”

Their eyes grew big as saucers. I suddenly realized they totally believed me and didn’t see the humor or irony in what I was saying. For an instant I felt like such an asshole for playing with them. Immediately I said, “No, no, no. I’m just kidding. That didn’t happen. But you sure did a great job on my car.”

At some age…8, 9, or 10 children question the idea of Santa Claus because it doesn’t make sense. Now, unfortunately, in the early years when children are so gullible, parents and their communities feed them religious nonsense just as fantastic as Santa,  the Virgin Birth, heaven and hell, Noah’s Ark, etc. But by the time critical thinking is possible, the religious horseshit has been baked in.

These children then grow up to be susceptible to nonsense they are fed about race, about economics, about sexuality, about politics, etc. For example, 18-year-old boys are drafted into the Army and taught to hate the enemy and why they must kill those people. They are not taught to question why we are in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan. (Hmmm? could it be to protect the investments and cashflow of the owners of Standard Oil, for example.)

I remember hearing about a few of the working-class Confederate Conscripts during the Civil War saying to friends, “I don’t own slaves. Why am I fighting for slave owners?”

We never indoctrinated our daughter Katy about religion. She was eight when someone asked her about religion, and she said, “I’m an amethyst.”  Made me proud. We did not have her believe in Santa or God. Whdya know? She did not become an axe murderer.

On a Humorous Note

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, told me that God just seems to be an extension of the childish belief in Santa Claus. FFRF is made up of atheists, agnostics, and humanists.

Something strange happened when her husband, Dan Barker, published a small book for children called, Just Pretend. The book tells children that both Santa and God are not real.

The atheist parents of FFRF didn’t like it. They said it is OK to tell their kids there is no God, but don’t mess with Santa.

Raising Skeptical Voters

So how do we engender critical thinking in early childhood to make future generations less susceptible to political manipulation, and hence, better voters?

Could we sit down with five-year olds and explain why it wouldn’t make sense that Santa could come down the chimney? Could we explain to that same five-year old that is doesn’t make sense that there is a bearded man in the sky who came down to earth to make a baby with a human, and that that baby was later killed by the Romans, came back to life, flew up to the sky and is now watching everything you do. (Kind of like Santa who “knows when you’ve been naughty or nice.”)

Imagine raising a whole generation of citizens who don’t believe in nonsense, but believe in humanity, reason, and science. Then, down the road, we would not have pathetic scenes like this on the floor of the House:

Mike Johnson, new House Speaker, Praying

So, let’s raise a glass to the death of Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Jesus, God, and dumb thinking. Money of this new generation will proudly say,

“In reason we trust”

Mark Lamirande sent me a joke:

Mark: “Wanna hear a good joke?”

Friend: “Well yes”

Mark: “A man named Rick Gilbert went into a Catholic Church.”

Friend: “And?” . . . .

Mark: “That’s it, don’t you get it?”

New book, Photographic Reflections, will be out by January 1.

Watch this space for how to order.

4 thoughts on “The End of Magical Thinking

  1. Susan Page says:

    I’m an amethyst.. That’s priceless.
    When I was a child, we did Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, but as far back as i can remember, I don’t think any of us thought for one minute that it was real. We left cookies and carrots for the reindeer, and they were gone in the morning, but we knew all along that it was mom and dad. Nobody had to tell us that it was really a myth, a legend, a children’s fairy tale. I certainly never had a traumatic moment when they sat us down and told us, “There really is no Santa who visits millions of children in one night and there really are no reindeer flying through the air.” Duh. How gullible do you have to be, even at age five, to fall for that? Same with the tooth fairy. It was fun to get a quarter under my pillow in the morning, but I certainly never conjured a little winged creature flying around to leave it there. Santa Claus and the tooth fairy are not a big deal to me. But god . . . that’s a very big deal. I was a good little Methodist, but as I gradually became an amethyst, I looked back and thought, “Did all those people in church really believe all that stuff? Really?” I guess there are still a lot of them out there. Keep up the good work, Rick!

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