In 1843, the German economist and Communist political philosopher, Karl Marx said:
“…Die Religion… ist das Opium des Volkes…”
It has been translated various way, but most commonly is translated as:
“…Religion is the opium of the masses…”
Well, Brother Marx, I strongly disagree. Now before all you atheists and agnostics get overheated, just sit down and read the rest of the post please.
I think all of us are familiar with the Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke shenanigan on the MTV Video Music Awards this past Sunday. While most of the focus has been on Miley, the disgust of the whole thing should be shared squarley with Thicke as well. He is frickin’ 36 years-old and Miley is only 21. Come on now!!!
Regarding the song that the duo performed together, Robin Thicke had this to say:
“People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women’”(source: The Wall Street Journal).
Ok, I have a lot more words, but they all have four letters, and well, I am Mormon and I don’t talk like that.
The following day, CNN’s homepage had the Thicke/Cyrus fiasco as their top-story on their home page (click here to read The Onion’s great satire on CNN’s embarrassing decision).
I wonder if anything more important was going on during this time? Hmm…let me think…no wait…it’s coming I swear…
Michael Lotfi, the Persian-American political commentator and adviser had this observation:
“Meanwhile, during the same period of time [the twenty-four hours following the Thick/Cyrus VMA performance] the US military moved cruise missiles into position to strike Syria. The reason for doing so is because the Obama administration claims that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people”(click here to read the entire article).
Lotfi then provided the following Google Analytics graft and explanation. For those that don’t know, Google Analytics is a way to monitor traffic to blogs, etc.
“I ran some analytics on Google just to see how the two compared. The results were shocking. On August 25th after Miley’sVMA performance her Google peak rating went from 67 to 100 in less than 24 hours… On August 25th the peak search value for chemical attacks in Syria actually fell to a value of 3, which is down from a value of 4 only 24 hours earlier. The term “Syria” is valued at 56- averaging flat over the past few days (Update 1).”
This past Tuesday I was in the break room at work chatting with a friend. As I sat at a table full of magazines such as Us Weekly, People Magazine, and other mind-rotting throw-aways, I asked my friend if he had heard about Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus and what they did at the MTV Video Music Awards. He responded, “Do I want to?” I showed him the above picture of the dynamic duo and then this meme that had been shared by one of our permabloggers:
He then said, “Karl Marx was wrong. Religion is not the opium of the masses. This crap is. Trashy entertainment is the opiate. This stuff just distracts us from the important issues.”
I have to agree with my friend. Karl, you were wrong.
Special thanks to all the permabloggers at Rational Faiths for helping me put together this post.
I tend to agree with Michael that there is an obsession with other peoples’ lives and pleasures rather than the enormous issues facing the world right now. I cannot watch many of the talk shows for this very reason. We are numbing ourselves to reality, but I must add that religion advances this kind of thinking.
…religion CAN advance this kind of thinking, but it doesn’t necessarily do so. The civil rights movement of the 60s shows that religion can be used to peel away apathy.
I see the perspective of your argument, but I would be interested in your reasoning as to why religion isn’t an opium. I’m a firm believer that there are many opiates and other metaphorical drugs that society abuses regularly.
I like the verb you added to the mix – “abuse”. That puts an interesting spin on things for sure. Very perceptive.
Ironic thing about Marx’s statement is… it’s the atheists out there getting stoned and bragging about it.
This takes Marx’s statement out of context to force the point the author wanted to make. In saying that religion is the opiate of the people, he specifically is saying that religion is a reaction the pain and plight of the common man. They create religion to give themselves an illusory happiness, much like a drug. In this context, Miley Cyrus’ actions do little more than distract.
But don’t they effectively do the same thing? Whether it is an illusory or a distraction, both take our sight off the meatier issues of life? Both lead to apathy, don’t they?
Karl Marx was right when he wrote ‘religion is the opiate of the people.’ The established churches in Europe were part of the machinery of oppression that kept the masses ‘in their place.’
Just as in pharmacological terms there is more than one anodyne that produces sleep and dreams, so in society there are similar mechanism ranging from the gutter press to performances such as that against which you rail, and rightly so.
Using Marx as a nail in which to hang your piece was understandable, except there was no parallel between the actions of the powerful religious and the shameful exhibition of Thicke and Cyrus in front of impressionable children and young people that might slavishly follow their heroes and heroines.
I agree with your post 100%, but in all fairness the picture of the Will Smith family was taken during the other dispicable performance, that of (un)Lady(like) Gaga.