The need to be ruled

I just went to watch The Avengers with Conrad.  There was one point where Loki was making a speech to a group of people whom he had just cowed into kneeling for him.  He said that humans have a need for subjugation--that we want to be ruled.

I thought about that a bit.  At the end of the movie, there were people showed on the news saying things to the effect of "It's nice to know that [the avengers] are here to watch over us."  It struck me that people really do want to be taken care of.  We invent these super heroes who will protect us from evil villains and fix the problems in our lives.

When we're attacked by terrorists taking out some of the most important buildings in our country, we welcome extension of the government's powers--such as the PATRIOT Act.  We want the government to protect us.  Keep us safe from the evil terrorists.  We grant them power to take care of this problem.  We want to be ruled.  We want to be subject to a power that can keep us safe.  We do not trust ourselves.  We do not trust each other.  We look to powers to save us--real or imagined.

We invent gods to worship--gods who can be pleased by sacrificing animals or people or by performing strange rituals.  If we do what these gods want, then they will be happy with us and they will bless us and protect us from evil.  But we subjugate ourselves to these gods.  We restrict our actions to those that will be pleasing to them.  We desire tyranny.  We invite it.

Even people who are very cautious and skeptical about the government having power and abusing it are often very religious.  The true genius of religion is that people willingly subject themselves to rulers.  Christians, of their own free will, make themselves subjects to the rule of an almighty being--and not just to god but also to the men (and women) who pretend to speak for him.  We do the bidding of priests, pastors, prophets, and other "holy men" who claim to speak for god.  We do so willingly.  It is not done by a sneaky clause buried deep inside some seemingly harmless bill in congress.  It is not done by conquest or force (although, there have been holy wars where religion has been enforced at the point of sword).

It is clear to me that people really truly do want someone else to be in control of their lives.  They want someone else to protect them.  This is why fear-mongering works.  This is why propaganda works.  What will it take for us to realize that we are strong.  We do not need Captain America or Superman to come protect us.  We can protect ourselves.  We can be good.  We can do what is right.  We can stand up against evil.  We do not need to grant tyrannical powers to our government to protect us.  We do not need a god to watch over us and love us.  We can watch over and love each other.  We can be great.  We can be free.  We can be independent.  We can think for ourselves.