New Gods

I’ve always been troubled by people’s apparent need to worship something.

The word itself makes me uncomfortable, and even queasy. There’s an implicit subservience and hierarchical demotion in it. Honestly, I find it quite pitiable, and shameful too.

I don’t think we require betters. I think that even the idea of role models is misplaced. Instead, we should recognise positive or desirable behaviours and emulate those, rather than attributing them to their originators as some kind of mark of inherent quality or value. The measure of a person is in what they do, not what they say or how they’re seen.

But that’s probably an unpopular opinion. We prefer to simplify, and to equate, and to set up figureheads or totems. I propose that this is an unhealthy and self-minimising mindset, even if it is the default one.

Today, the new gods are the billionaires, or actors, or politicians. But they’re all just people, as we all are. There will always be the apologists and the obsequious followers, just as there were always their equivalents — the sanctimonious, and the divinely-appointed — in the past. Human nature has not appreciably changed. But our minds, at least, have become more sophisticated.

Be very wary of being a follower, or a devotee. Judge the acts, not the PR, and certainly not the money or the power. All too often, the latter are the spoils of flaws rather than virtue.