As the days grew shorter, and the darkness hours lengthened, the people drew close in fear. Fear of the passing of the life giving light. Fear that the light would forever disappear and never again smile down upon them, to bless their lives, their crops, their good hunting.
So in fear, they built bonfires to chase away the darkness, and sacrificed all manner of animals to the God of light. To appease her, and make her warm their world again. And bring back the life giving warmth of the light. Lo and behold, after much sacrificing, the light saw their sincerity and started returning. And the people were glad. And they celebrated with all manner of festivities and ritual sacrifices. They had won the day once more. And life returned anew.
Sounds like a nice fairy tale today. It is a part of our history. Today we smile and nod and laugh at our ancient ancestors and their superstitious beliefs. We mock them for how simple and foolish they were for not understanding something as simple as the seasons, and how the planet tilts towards and away from the sun.
And we do the same things.
Oh, today, we understand about seasons, and days growing longer and shorter. So we laugh at our ancestors for being such simpletons. Yet we do the same thing.
How? Have you listened to the news lately? Have you listened to the talking heads populating the air waves of AM radio? Have you actually been talking to your friend at the water cooler about the coming Armageddon?
A thousand years ago, man quaked at the diminishing sun, because he did not understand. Today, man quakes at the coming of a recession...because he does not understand.
I was struck by this thought (which goes hand in hand with my contention that the population at large is ignorant of economics) when I heard a couple of talking heads "fearing" the coming recession. "Fearing" the ending of the world because of the problems with the economy. "Fearing" an Investment Advisor's advice to invest overseas. "Fearing" because of their ignorance. And the ignorance of the vast majority (not right wing in this case) of people that do not understand something as simple as a cycle - even after having lived through several.
Instead of building bon fires and and sacrificing goats, the ignorant pagans of today send homage to the new gods, and quake hoping for their benevolence and magnificence. Who are these new gods? Right now, we call them Hillary, Obama, and McCain. We look to them to push back the "darkness" of the recession. And we sacrifice our money to our new gods hoping they will wave their omnipotent hands and whisk away the darkness of a recession.
And of course these gods play their faithful like harps from hell. They promise light and new life! And all for the mere pittance of your undying devotion to them. They promise to renew the earth, much as the Sun renewed the earth for our pagan ancestors.
And how do they do this? Simple, they are the educated literati. They know what the great masses of humanity do not (or at least their advisors do - but a god cannot let on that THEY do not know). That like the sun of old, a boom time will chase away the darkness of the recession soon enough.
So they play on the ignorant fears of the populace. Promising Manna and a land of milk and Honey. Where no darkness will ever dare rear its ugly recessionist head. They know they can deliver. How? By not mucking things up so bad as to prolong the recession. So they promise, hope for the homage, and wait. Wait for the inevitable recovery. That will come. As long as they do not make it worse.
We have come a long way as a people in the last 1000 years. We have shed much of the ignorance of the dark ages to an era of enlightenment, where we know that the earth is round, the seasons will come and go, and The sun will rise, sacrifices or no sacrifices.
But we are still like ignorant children. Cowering before the god of Economics. Because we do not understand it, and therefore must look for new gods to save us from it. Just as the old gods saved our ancestors from the darkness.
The older I get, the more I marvel at the sheer ignorance and gullibility of man. And how they never learn. Learned men showed us our ignorance about the sun, and seasons. Yet instead of using that as a model to try to understand new complexities of life, we invent new gods and new sacrifices to deal with what we do not know. Instead of admitting we do not know, and attempting to learn and understand, we revert to our paganistic origins.
And we are no better than the cave man who did not understand that night was just a part of day. And not some titanic struggle of the gods.