Thursday, January 13, 2011

Satan's Billboards

Along a stretch of Highway 198 just west of Hanford, CA, a billboard proclaims a message supposedly from Satan (he asks people to avoid a certain religious group).  Obviously, Lucifer didn't pay for the outdoor space, but the idea of the most famous of all fallen angels utilizing advertising to sway the populace seems appropriate when one considers the angry, blame-oriented tenor of the times.

Lucifer would certainly like a billboard that says, "Don't worry about your neighbor's welfare:  Worry about yourself."  Preoccupation with one's situation is something every human who once breathed on the planet could understand; even primordial man, hunkered down next to his weakening fire as the rain soaked the world outside his cave, would have been acutely aware of his plight:  "Where will I find dry stuff to burn to keep away the cold and the beasts?"

Many in this country have no such immediate concerns, but the homeless can empathize with such vulnerability; not far from the neighborhood of my childhood in Fresno, dozens of ramshackle tents and cardboard and wood scrap constructions line the asphalt of what was once a bridge from California Street to Van Ness Avenue.  The kids called that area "The Hill" and we would ride our bikes down those bridges that rose over the railroad tracks and the nearby Fresno Rescue Mission where "the men of the road" could find a meal and a bed if there was room.  Now entire families inhabit that area and must fight poverty, drug addiction, violence--and our nation's collective apathy for their lives.

One of Satan's billboards would surely pronounce, "Apathy is good:  To hell with the other guy.  If you give him some money, he'll waste it on drink or drugs."  Rationalization has a way of dulling the soul to the point of maladjusted pride:  "Whenever one of those people asks me for money, I say, 'Get a job!'  Jesus!"  The irony of such an exclamation is profound, for Jesus would have never rationalized turning away from even the least of his fellow man or woman or child.  Yet, millions daily turn away and think they're championing some kind of moral ethic, though if one logically analyzes such a response (to deny someone aid), one would ultimately have to admit that Satan would embrace such an ethos.

Satan's billboards could be direct:
"Don't extend tax cuts unless the wealthy are included too."
"Overturn legislation that gives the poor and the working classes health care."
"Don't spend your taxes on the general masses:  That's socialism and communism."
"Privatize all social services:  Don't waste money on others."

Now don't get yourself riled up if you agree with the previous statements; however, seriously ask yourself one question:  "Would Satan or Jesus support such positions?"  If you think Jesus' teachings support such anti-human thinking, please let me know the title, chapter, and verse of the text you've been reading if you consider yourself a Christian.

But Satan's billboards could also be subtle:
"All white or mostly all white juries and hiring committees and neighborhoods don't harm anyone."
"Support the police:  They know who to stop."
"Let's take back America!"

Implicit in those statements are those who will be considered guilty until proven innocent, those people of color who won't secure employment even though they're highly qualified, those who will grow up in segregated areas--and even cultivate segregated adult lives--and be conditioned to fear diversity or be intolerant to difference, those who will be wrongfully stopped, and those who will be scapegoated for most of the ills in America.

And in a country where few are trained in or possess critical thinking skills, Satan would appreciate the ultimate effect of such billboards:  They work.