Naivety about idolatry – Patriotism and Nationalism
There is a commandment amongst the Seven Laws, the basic core seven commands that God gave to all Gentiles. It’s the law of idolatry. The letter of the law states that is forbidden to physically or actively worship a false god, understanding “false god” to mean anything other than God. Gentiles are not to do this in such a way that accepts that false god as deity in some way over our lives.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about the Seven Commandments, it’s that just because something is permitted according to the core seven laws, that doesn’t make it good or right. Another thing that I’ve learnt about the seven commands is that each one teaches a fundamental concept. It’s only part of that concept that is meant to be legislated in a court that upholds the Seven Commands, but the concept itself teaches something more.
I think one thing that the law of idolatry teaches is against placing any above the Creator and his words, not to give too much devotion to the created things, the tools that he’s given us in this life to get us closer to his truth. It’s to give things their proper priority. It also teaches that we should know the difference what is factual and fundamental, and what is not, i.e., what is fantasy, or opinion; and that we should not confuse the two.
But I was blind …
As I’ve been learning more about justice and the way different governments operate, I’ve seen the sorts of attitude people have towards their countries, their laws, their values and their governments. Today it was brought home to me even more that the things that the law of idolatry teaches can be ignored even by people who hold up the banner of Torah, Judaism, or the Noahide laws.
I’ve seen terms and and phrases such as “Proud to be British” and “America is great because of the Constitution and Bill of Rights”. I’ve seen someone I saw as a powerful Torah Jew basically spit on Torah because it conflicted with the Constitution of America. I see a sheep-like mentality to government and their legislation where it is plain that a human being has done nothing immoral, nothing that hurt another individual, his property, or society, and yet because it was against government legislation and acts, people curse and condemn that human being, almost wishing him dead. Because a person doesn’t carry a piece of paper, a card, a circle of paper, all of a sudden, this person is vilified and hated. Or a person has worked for his money and actually wants to keep what he earned and use it as he wishes, such a person is frowned upon because of his own money, because he doesn’t wish for an immoral government to steal his money or use extortion to force it from him through all forms of taxation. The news will hold this person as “a tax evader” because he wants to keep his own money.
I don’t think everyone who reads this will understand what I’m saying. But say it I will.
Then we have people who are proud to be part of a country. “I’m proud to be [fill in almost any country name here]” as if just having that country name determines their physical or ethical nature. Even today I was talking to someone who kept saying “we Americans believe this” and “we Americans value this”. And when I questioned him on what exactly he meant by “we Americans”, he started to whittle it down: “by America, I mean those who hold these values”. I wondered what gave him the authority or the knowledge to speak for a mass of millions of people living on a certain landmass, the vast majority of which he has no personal knowledge of.
It’s a statement of arrogance that is stained on every nation. Some person in whatever part of their society, especially the politicians and political leaders, will says “we think this is moral and this is immoral” or “we [country population name] speak for this value and that value”. When you strip the words of their delusions and opinions, you may get an idea that, generally, they don’t have a clue what they are talking about.
The real and unreal: fact and opinion
Although I can try to imagine what a person means when they make grand claims about France, USA, United Kingdom or England – oh whatever country you can think of – it’s important to get rid of the fluff, the opinion, the stuff that isn’t based on fact.
Firstly, nobody, not a political leader, not an army official, not a regular Joe on the street, nobody can speak for all of or the vast majority of the people group that they feel that they are a part of. When you hear a political leader or a patriot or nationalist speak of “we Americans” or “we Chinese” or whatever, they generally have no clue what they are talking about. The only person that this individual can authoritatively speak about is himself or herself. With a substantial authority, he or she can speak for those he knows personally and intimately. But for everyone? No! This person is speaking about complete strangers only tied together by the fact that they live on the same landmass, normally.
But you hear it on the news or on the mouth of politicians; when bad times comes, they’ll say “the country mourns”; when good happens, they will say how their country is proud of those who did this deed; when the politicians receive the votes, they’ll say “the country has spoken”. But let’s cut to the chase: they’re speaking total nonsense. They have no clue how each of the individuals in that landmass feel or think. The word “country” or the name of whatever country they use becomes like an illusion (or delusion). Generally, they are not talking about the landmass they live in, because the earth doesn’t speak literally. And it’s impossible for them to be talking about each of the individuals that make up the country. And without knowledge of the individuals that make up a group, that makes the statements that they say about the whole group of people that make up the “nation” untenable and weak.
So when some patriot or nationalist comes up to me and says “the American people say blah blah blah”, apart from the things that just make us human, I can already conclude that they are not talking about individuals or groups of individuals, especially a nation of people they have no intimate knowledge of. They are more glorifying an idea that they have than real people.
Linked to this is the notion that these people can have regarding the law of their land. This is especially obvious amongst Americans but it can be seen across the globe with the sheepish obedience to the laws of their nations, or the glorification of “rights” people deem to be natural but codified in their constitution. But these days these laws have been dreamt up or put down by men, men being the only authority behind such laws. The world on a whole has rejected the Divine standard of law and it’s now just human based. But when we get to the level of fact, and not just opinion, we see that this is setting up ourselves for a fall. I’ll use the American “Constitution” as an example.
When someone comes up to me and tells me how great and fantastic the constitution is, factually I have to question what they are talking about. Why? Because what exactly is the constitution? It’s four pieces of paper with writing on it. That’s it. In and of itself it has no authority. I have to laugh when Americans say that it was written by the people simply because written on it are the words, “We, the people …” Remember what I was saying previously, the fallacy of speaking for whole countries. So the question is which people wrote the constitution? No one can say that every individual in America did. And that brings to light another fact. Whoever wrote it only did so based on “the people” (whoever they are) were around at that time. So what does that have to do with anyone that came after? As has been shown to me quite clearly, that document is not a contract. “The people” didn’t sign it saying “we all agree to this”. And who are the parties that would be needed for this to be a legitimate contract? Where is the evidence that there was consideration done by all the parties concerned? And again, what power does it have on future generations? Objectively speaking, paper and writing has no power.
And then if we discuss the contents, we get to see what a person actually puts their foundational faith in: the words known to be sourced from and written by men; or the decrees of the Creator of the Universe? Firstly, it should be plain and obvious that the constitution, as a means to protect rights, is generally useless. The amount of times the government of America has used its judges and politicians to not only find ways to ignore it, but also to convince, brainwash or indoctrinate people to either ignore it or speak against its principles is amazing, and it’s even harder to get a handle on the individuals that also ignore the document and what it says. Just look at the government’s policies that include kidnapping a person (they call it “detaining”, but there’s qualitatively no real difference) without a trial. Look at how their police trick their way around any “right” a person can claim to have to either extort money from their victims (i.e., fines and the seizure of property), or kidnap a person (whether it be just to handcuff them, stuff that person in the police vehicle, or haul them away to jail), or even attack, injure and kill people. What about their business practices? What about their day to day living?
Come on! Let’s get real. If the constitution was really meant to protect “we, the people”, toilet paper would have done a better job. The government still uses its citizens as its slave-workforce, stealing and extorting their money, and they uses their manipulation and force to make people vote for tyranny.
And yet we have people who almost worship this “constitution” as if it were the best thing since sliced bread (at least sliced bread doesn’t make so great a claim). How many republics in the past have had constitutions only to still become tyrannical regimes?
Remember! Please keep it in the forefront of your mind that I’m using the constitution of America as an example. The laws of other countries and the rights that their people or government claim to protect and promote are just as baseless and useless. Again, I’m not saying it’s totally useless, but once you have a concept or law that is purely derived from man, then it’s more than possible for another man or the same one to ignore it for whatever reason he chooses, even for no reason!
The same thing can be said for any “bill of human rights”. Although they can spell out some nice intentions that people may have, they have no inherent authority. Just ask the thief or murderer (be they individual or government forces) about your human rights. Your property or your life will still most likely be taken unless you know how to apply wisdom to the situation.
What makes this worse for adherents to Torah is when they hold their particular example of national law up on a pedestal above the very Torah itself. I’m not sure if you remember, but there was a time I mentioned in the blog before that some people who call themselves “noahides” compare or equate the pure keeping of the Seven Universal Laws to the muslim sharia law. When you find out where most of these sorts of noahides come from, this comparison should come as no surprise. Generally these people firstly put a lot of emphasis on their preferred way of life (whatever that’s supposed to be) and/or the American constitution and the “rights” it promotes; and secondly they have a savagely poor understanding or view of the seven universal laws to think that a law based on justice promotes injustice by being overly harsh in its usage of the death penalty. As I say, this reproachable and reprehensible view of the seven laws is not based on a proper or holistic approach to the subject matter but rather, more often than not, on a previous highly-overrated view of some document about supposed “rights” or the national law (i.e., words known to come from and be ignored by humans).
Just like I’ve said above, a person who I thought was a follower of Torah was willing to spit on what the Torah teaches and portray the observance of the Seven Commandments as oppressive and something that is imposed tyrannically upon people, and why? Because it contradicted the Constitution of the USA! Understand that! Essentially he was saying “Interpret Torah anyway you want, but don’t touch my holy Constitution!” Between a choice of God’s law and 4 pieces of paper known for their failure, he chose failure. Kinda reminds me of what I see when I search for the “Noahide Laws” on the internet: fear that it will replace national man-made law that is held with too much reverence despite its deep flaws. People would prefer to be the authors of their own slavery than to let God’s law have a word in.
How to end this … hmmmm ….
It is important to differentiate between what things are and what people believe, even with regards to the statements people make about national law, human “rights”, and countries. The fact is that the hidden idolatry of nationalism, even when veiled under some noble patriotism, is rife across the planet. It’s another place where people have exalted fictions – like some inherent good in a nationality or some pious nature to the edicts of men – people have given these fictions too much of a hold over their lives. And this hidden idolatry isn’t limited to those ignorant of Torah.
Whether you accept the “religious” part of this article or not, let’s be plain about things. You know when an individual is good by the acts they do, not by their nationality. And no one can speak for a bunch of strangers. You know how good a government and its law is by what it does. And when compared to basic morality, many governments and law documents fall flat on their faces.
All this “we who live in [pick your country, put it here] are like this, and our law is like that” is another form of bowing to another fiction.
Uproot the fiction and focus on doing good yourself and judge the actions and words of people based on relevant facts, not fictions!