An anonymous recently left this comment on the McGowan thing I wrote a little while ago. It struck a chord with me and I reprint it here with my thoughts on the matter following after.
I enjoy the works of McGowan very much and as an ex-southern fundamental christian, the more truth I find the better.
The sad truth about that for me is what difference can it make? I have no doubt that ALL religions are lies for the purpose of deceiving the masses and the few getting richer, but if there is no right or wrong, god or devil, why should any of this matter?
If I try to live and do good to my fellowman and someone else lives a life only to hate and destroy and we both get the same at death..nothing...what does it matter what we do?
Why should we try to make things better for the following generations if there is nothing beyond this life? We should steal, kill, lie or anything we can do to get all we can get while we are here!!!!
Hundreds of sweet precious children are abused mentally, emotionally and sexually almost every 30 seconds and few people care. What difference does that matter is there is nothing better beyond this life? If a man strives to do good and be kind to children and another man only lives to rape a child and yet they both get the same at the end of life why should we strive for the 'good'?
What kind of world is this and what does anything matter at all? Maybe this is the jumping off place of the universe but in the religious pious stupidity we are led to believe we are better! I want no part of any religion for as long as I draw breath.
Whatever pathetic consolation it may be, I know precisely how you feel. In fact, I suspect that most of the regulars here would be nodding their heads. Mate, you are not alone. A lot of us have been there. Everything that had once comprised the bedrock on which we based our understanding of ourselves and the world, has turned to shifting sand. Actually it was always thus. But now it's become so obvious that none of us can miss it. We've all learned that nothing was what we thought it was. And with nothing firm beneath our feet, it's hard to know who one should be.
It is my conceit here, to I think I have something to tell you. Maybe I do, maybe I don't. I'm going to write it regardless and hope that it's of some use. If it isn't, and you don't care for it, feel free to dismiss it. I will not take it personally.
Professionals might disagree, but I reckon you are undergoing a slo-mo variation of a nervous breakdown. I say this because your words were mine and 'nervous breakdown' was how I chose to define the complete disconnect I experienced. But don't be afraid of the word 'breakdown'. You may as well embrace it. When a thing is built wrong at a foundational level, invariably there's no point fiddling around the edges. You may as well break it down and start again. It is a good and necessary thing. And I'm not talking about society here. I'm talking about you.
If you're like me, your understanding of yourself was based majorly on your understanding of the world. And now you've realised you've been had. It was all a con, a load of shit designed by vicious greedy bastards. Religion is a con, banking is a con, tax is a con, the media is a con. All of these things told you who to be and what to do. And now the scales have fallen from your eyes and you know it's all bullshit. So! Who are you? Who should you be? How should you behave? Where is the firm ground on which you can say, 'This is who I am'?
Well, I hate to tell you that you will never find this firm ground - certainly not externally. The only firm ground you'll find will have to be yourself. That which is outside us, is not us, and nor should it define us. You say that there is no right and wrong. Actually there is, but so far you've pretty much let others define it for you. I'm not attaching any blame to you for this. You, me, we all did it. The main thing, in rejecting this definition-of-others, is that you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Which is to say, don't throw yourself out too.
Let's start with the wrong end of the stick. Clearly there is wrong behaviour. And you identified it quite eloquently. But rather than making sense of it with a thicket of complex rules, why don't we distil it into its single essence? All wrong behaviour is merely an expression of selfishness. Every 'sin' is only so, if it is carried out as an act of selfishness. All of the ten commandments can, believe it or not, be done selflessly - in which case they are no longer a 'sin'. Who knew?
Think of Robin Hood. He would lie, cheat, and steal, but all in a spirit of selflessness. Who cares what the reality was - he's mythologised for this selflessness. Had he robbed to enrich himself, there wouldn't be any myth. His heroic stature doesn't come from his breaking of the rules but from why he broke them. The rules were, and still are, bullshit. They were there to serve the selfish, which is to say, the wealthy and powerful. Forget the rules, the only thing that counts is the selflessness. The ten commandments, the seven deadly sins, whatever, only make sense in terms of their selflessness. If you view them in this fashion, idiotic discussions about white lies etc. are instantly resolved. Contradictions, clever tricks and self-serving loopholes all turn to a puff of smoke.
The rules are, and always were, bullshit. Given that the only certainty is change, they must fail. And they do. And you've seen it, you said so. So let's chuck them out. The only thing that counts is the question of 'for whom was the action done?' Did a person act out of narrow self-interest, or for the benefit of all?
It won't take much of a prompt from me to get you to wonder at the religious power structure of which you were a member, and why they never put things in terms of selflessness. Ha! The question answers itself. If an organisation was governed by the simple rubric of selflessness how, or why, would it's leaders amass all that power? How would they explain all those mansions with their hot and cold running blowjobs? These organisations, in refusing to discuss things in terms of selflessness, are telling you where the answer lies.
Let's not forget the government and the media. Of course the media tells you that greed is good. The media is run by the powerful and wealthy, which is to say selfish, and unsurprisingly they want you to revere the powerful and wealthy. Sure, of course. And here am I telling you, media-style, how to behave. But I'll also tell you - don't take my word for it. Do not believe me. Belief is what led you, and the rest of us, astray. Instead take this thought of selflessness (it's not mine you know. I merely echo others) and roll it around in your head. Apply it to anything you like. See for yourself if it makes sense.
For no particular reason, the Beatles song 'Money Can't Buy Me Love' came to mind. As did the old phrase, 'You can't buy happiness'. Wonder at these again. What are they apart form simple discussions of selfishness and selflessness? Simple things are easy to see. Complicated things are not so easy. This simple template of selflessness is not some magic key that will do your thinking for you. You've already had people hand you all the answers and you know what that's worth. Nothing.
You will have to be your own bedrock. You will have to struggle to embody what is right. Not only will you have to struggle to understand the right thing to do, you will have to struggle in the face of all those who will tell you that you are wrong. Stand firm. Don't be distracted by the selfish end of the continuum, regardless of how many people tell you that sins are virtues. Being distracted by the selfish and their selfish behaviour will serve no purpose. It's arguable that any religion (or society, same-same) basing itself on what one shouldn't do, was always doomed to failure. Forget what's wrong. Aim for what's right.
By defining yourself by what's best for others, you can find a strength that is unimpeachable. If a man cannot be accused of acting selfishly, he cannot be accused - period. He need not fear the lies of others. To shed fear is to shed the confusion and unhappiness that the lies are designed to instil. The selfish do not have this option. Those with the most to lose will live lives of fear. It stands to reason. And sure, they wish you to be fearful. Hell, do they ever! Reject them. Reject their falsehoods. Reject their fear. Turn away from all of it. Find yourself. You are all that you have and all that you need.
You have already come a long way. The path you are on is difficult. The main thing is that you knew to start it. I salute you. Here I will not discuss what I think you will find at the end of this journey. That would merely be my opinion, whatever that's worth. Not much, since I haven't found it yet. And I may never. But it doesn't really matter. With each step, one casts off fear and knows oneself better. The ground beneath one's feet become ever firmer and each footfall more confident. Eventually you will find the solid bedrock of yourself. Godspeed.