Modern humans have resided in and dispersed from Europe for at least 40,000 years. If you contextualize this timeline as one 24 hour day, you could say we’ve only spent the last minute calling each other racist. That may not sound substantial, though many glorious days have been lost in even briefer bouts of foolishness.
Yet considered holistically, we’ve posed a remarkably impressive specimen over the 23 hours and 59 minutes prior. Transportation, medicine, flight, computing…it would be an easier task to hand-count the hairs on a cat’s back than to list the contributions of European-derived peoples. It is no exaggeration to say the diverse world relies entirely upon Western technology to express its contempt for Westerners.
In the past it was even considered gauche to mention white innovations in comparison to other peoples. You wouldn’t keep score in a tennis match between Roger Federer and an elderly janitor, or a creativity contest between Bubbles and Sheila Jackson Lee. Today it’s not merely impolite to observe the obvious, but a probable felony in several jurisdictions.
Though the main remark is that man–our thin branch of him in particular–is a clever and resourceful creature, with a very long pedigree of competitive and evolutionary success. So what exactly happened in this last minute?
With his material prosperity and mastery of obstetrics, why is white fertility doggedly below replacement? With his military potency unparalleled, why is Western man being clubbed in his own capitals by invaders so incompetent they would expire without his charity?
The intellect is plainly still operative, though his critical instincts are not. Something has disabled the innate visceral impulses required for survival of everything from man to mole rats. But how do you keep a people from positive adaptivity who have navigated every environment, plague, and predator for over four hundred centuries?
Here’s one way: Faith.
Of its several definitions, this is the most applicable: belief that is not based on proof. The devout have long defended faith as man’s facility for transcending his mortal limitations. Though increasingly–in this last evolutionary minute in particular–faith has come to be the tool by which they march themselves into the ocean. There is a faith among this flock that safe, peaceful, and prosperous Western civilization can live without Westerners, as lungs can breathe freely without air. And faith is belief that is not based on proof. Even when that proof is putting you into a coma.
Sunday morning, during the part of my church service where members of the congregation ask for prayers for others, a member stood and asked that we pray for two members of the Unitarian Universalist Association who’d been badly hurt in the French Quarter the night before. You may have seen the surveillance video of the two men – Tim Byrne and James Curran – walking on Bienville Street and being attacked from behind by four suspects and then robbed. Byrne was knocked unconscious with a blow to the head and was reported as having a critically serious brain injury.
The UUA, a liberal denomination that emphasizes “deeds not creeds,” was holding its General Assembly in New Orleans. The UUA speaks out boldly for economic justice, environmental justice, immigrant justice, LGBT justice, racial justice, reproductive justice and voting rights. The denomination came to New Orleans, which could use an infusion of justice in all those named areas, only to have two of its staffers hurt. It’s kind of like if the Good Samaritan decided to lobby for justice on Jericho Road and ended up face down on that thoroughfare beaten and bloody.
Perhaps eventually the Good Samaritan would learn to take his lobbying to locales where Samaritans weren’t considered prey. But not doing that requires faith that your experiences, senses, and intuition are all false. And that’s precisely what organizations like the Unitarian Universalist Association exist to provide.
So as their friend and coreligionist emerges into a new life of rehabilitation and baby food, his liberal congregation prays for the strength to maintain its delusions.