If I was an alien observer of this planet and the human race, I would shake my head and think “what the hell is wrong with these people?”
Except, as an inhabitant of earth, I know what at least one of the problems is. You see, Earth is riddled with a disease. An ugly festering cancerous debilitating parasitic virus that leaves a trail of oppression, ignorance, suffering, and death in its wake. But this is a virus unlike any other; this is a virus of the mind.
This particular virus debilitates the sufferer into a blind delusion that what they believe has always been right, is constantly right, and will always be right. It blocks out original thoughts and drowns the afflicted person in a mental quagmire of myth, contradiction, superstition, and just downright falsehoods. It convinces anyone carrying the virus that any person who doesn’t agree with them is wrong, evil, and ultimately worthy of death. In some cases the virus is so overpowering the victim experiences a unique symptom called “righteousness”. This peculiar euphoric manifestation in some cases even causes the carrier to take action them self on behalf of the virus, up to and including killing non-carriers.
This vile infection is so ubiquitous it has even diversified so that in some parts of the world it produces different symptoms in people. Oddly, this mental pathogen will not tolerate variance of any kind even amongst other carriers, so a strong aversion to change and total lack of tolerance are classic symptoms of infection.
This virus is also very efficient at not only propagating itself, but also defending itself. It does the latter often proactively, by eradicating non-carriers and variant-carriers. A look through the history books shows entire legions of carriers wiping out others who had a different form of the plague. Another favourite ploy of the virus is to make its victims believe that they are being persecuted, regardless of the actual state of affairs, no matter how many fellow carriers there are, and with no regard to whether any event is hardship or not. The mind bug even causes its carriers to force non-carriers to defer to them and compromise for them, using sympathy, lies, propaganda, goodwill of others, and especially the slimy sodden salivation of political-correctness.
To prevent any sufferers from recovering, the virus has several unique counter-measures. One is to surround the sufferer by fellow carriers so that leaving the group is unwelcome, frightening, and lonely. Two, is to suppress free-thought, opinion, discussion, debate, controversy, or reform. The virus causes its victims to despise variation, lest the victim recover from whichever belief the virus produces. The virus cunningly avoids this potential problem by inducing a paralysing stagnation: the past is overlooked, and the future is to mirror the present; trapped in the status quo of ritual and tradition. Anything that contradicts a belief is rejected, or twisted into an imaginary scenario to account for it. Evidence is deemed unimportant. Questions and analysis cause an observable discomfort in the mind of the victim. Third, some beliefs infused by the virus are so potent that carriers will hurt and kill anyone who criticises what the virus has deemed right and holy. The virus therefore must ruthlessly oppose everything that it doesn’t stand for: facts, tolerance, peace, freedom-of-speech, investigation, and progress.
The virus propagates itself through mediums such as tradition and indoctrination. Some permutations of sufferers produce genuine symptoms like happiness and concern for your well-being. They might even take the effort to seek you out to help you contract the virus. But the virus’ favourite method of procreation is through sexuality; that is, any carriers feel a deep desire to pass the disease onto their offspring (or anyone who will listen), whether such people have the chance to accept or reject the virus of their own free will. This allows the virus to exist for generation after generation; a most successful reproductive method indeed!
Finally, unlike most other viruses, this one entrenches itself so deeply in people they are convinced that there is nothing wrong with them! They are even glad to have the virus, and make public displays of how joyful life is with it. They might shout from the rooftops, preach on the streets, knock on your door, sings songs, build statues and altars, and even martyr themselves! They even want you to have the virus too! In fact, so fervently do they want you to share the pleasure of their infection, they might even decide that if you don’t want to have the bug too, your life just isn’t worth living. They might even make this decision for you.
Now, not all belief-symptoms of the disease are as potent as others, and not everyone is as susceptible to the mental disarrangement that the illness produces. But whilst the symptoms of the virus vary, (usually by locality and upbringing,) the virus itself is the same; like a rose by any other name. This bug might even smell as sweet, but watch out for those nasty thorns.
There is a cure fortunately, but the virus has long since infected people to not want curing. The cure only works on those who accept it; whose bodies haven’t built up enough of an immunity through years of infection. The cure is the enemy of everything the virus stands for. That is: unforced belief, tolerance, free-thought, discussion, inquiry, criticism, and perhaps most importantly: freedom of speech.
If you find yourself opposing any of these virtues, watch out! The virus could already have you!