A minor morality play for Palm Sunday

Expanded from the 3-24-2002 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

Over the past year, the ebb and flow of the news and pseudo-news has gone from the missing Chandra Levy to the missing bodies at Ground Zero to the missing money at Enron to the missing morals of just about every major religion.

Our conduct leads to the conclusion that the dominant species on this planet has not advanced very far since we first began writing things down. Our primal ancestors once looked to cloudy skies to provide them with fire. Today, we depend on wires strung in the sky with sticks for heat and light.

In their high mass of mutual conceit, millions of otherwise sentient humans worship only gods made unto the image and likeness of the worshippers.

Corporatized religions have grown into the biggest businesses in the world, selling themselves as gatekeepers, interpreters and dispensers of wisdom from deities purported to look and think like us.

When science, the straw man enemy of religion, offers up hard evidence of the physical existence of deity, the corporate brahmins of the holy of holies ignore it. The evidence doesn't look anything like us and is thus unacceptable as unmarketable.

Mankind's central beliefs are based as much on popularly accepted legend and superstition as fact. No one may deviate too far from conventional wisdom. The universe still revolves around us despite substantial evidence to the contrary.

Our conduct is still largely based on the mob ethics of warring tribes. Like all lost souls, we seek the comfort of the familiar even if doing so makes us increasingly uncomfortable.

After decades of coverup, world class churches are now being revealed as havens for baby rapers. Our military-industrial complex, which we pay dearly to defend us, was easily defeated by a small group of nutcases armed with short shivs unworthy of any 1950s-era street gang.

According to the April Harper's Index, U.S. taxpayers pay $50 billion annually to secure Persian Gulf oil supplies which comprise $19 billion a year of our crude imports. Defrauded Enron investors got a better rate of return.

Ruthlessness is understandable in a corporation organized around greed. But upon what can the masses base their morals when the dispensers of the society's accumulated wisdom have fallen victim to the same institutional rot which afflicts business and politics? The McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill is not an answer.

Recognizing the danger of institutional drift, Thomas Jefferson once opined that "a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

The elements of a new moral code lie within and all around us. Scientists have now identified the missing mass of the known universe. So-called "dark matter" comprises about 90 percent of what we are. It is inextricably intertwined with and cross-cuts the 10 percent we can see. No one knows how to research it further. It's almost unknowable, too massive for mere humans to comprehend.

That's a concept remarkably similar to the description of God accepted by a plethora of religions. But apparently no religion is willing to explore the unknowable if it sits outside the box of orthodoxy. Such an exercise might, sooner or later, require faith.

It will eventually reach the mainstream after some science fiction writer's movie adaptation makes the transition from arcane science to pop culture to extremist cult to establishment of religion. That process used to take a couple of hundred years, but the proliferation of mass media has cut the incubation period to 50 or less.

Like Luke Skywalker and Mr. Spock, holy scripture is filled with characters who never really existed but whose credibility is now never questioned.

A new order of morality must naturally if fitfully proceed from that bloodiest century in human history recently passed into oblivion. It must do so with a fresh moral code not modeled on the mass marketing of Pepsi Cola.
The stage is now set for a new messiah. Otherwise, we will continue to poison ourselves with continuous rounds of homeopathic non-cures. As the once-Holy Land now learns the hard way every day, war is no longer an effective antidote to war.

No less than our accidental president acknowledged as much last week in Mexico. Dubya opined that spreading the wealth to the impoverished might help stop the worldwide spread of the bloody rash of revolution.

Such an enlightened if unoriginal idea has no chance of success unless implemented altruistically with the usual elements of greed and power removed.

In the past, it has taken an innovative, charismatic leader to inject the proper moral tone into such an enterprise. Will peace have a chance without a Gandhi or a Jesus?

Perhaps, if enough individuals step forward in enough places with their backbones bolstered by contact with like-minded others in the age of instant communication.

With the world now so dangerous that the Cold War now looks like an era of comparative peace and stability, let us hope that decentralized new leadership can lead us back from the abyss of institutionalized ignorance and sanctified hatred.

TUNE IN, TURN ON AND TELL A FRIEND. The next installment of Deciding Factors airs on KRXI FOX-11 at 8:30 this morning, followed by a repeat on KAME UPN-21 (Charter Cable 7) at 12 noon. KRXI will re-broadcast the program at 12:30 Monday morning, followed by KAME at 1:30 a.m.

Phillip I. Earl, Curator Emeritus of the Nevada Historical Society, and Jon Christensen, writer and reporter with Great Basin News, join me to give their somewhat surprising answers to the question of the day: What three things about Nevada most need fixing? (Read about their latest books at the new Nevada Writers page.)

Be well. Raise hell. | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


© 2002 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 33-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.

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