1,500 years ago, across the European countries, religious dogmatism took firm hold of the government and plunged their society into intellectual oblivion for over a millennium. The Catholic institution gained despotic power over civilization, launched gruesome crusades, campaigned violently against every secular view, and controlled the hearts and minds of people through sheer terror and manipulation. The infected minds of the herd were trained to sniff out and obliterate anyone and anything that existed outside of the sphere of Catholic ideology. Those intrepid enough to rail intellectually against the Church and their mob of henchmen faced a life of exile that, in many cases, ended in a torturous and barbaric death.
In our current day, the physical danger of being burned alive at the stake in front of a feverish mob or ripped limb-by-limb by horsemen in the town square are considerably less likely in our more squeamish society. With the advent of increasingly secular thought, the tribalism and barbarism of human psychology are no longer puppeted by religious dogmatists. The rabidly devout disciples that sprout up on occasion present an anomalous threat as compared to the past. However, the social dynamics of the herd mentality can still play out with just as much delirium as it did during the dark age of antiquity. The only difference is that the tyranny of a politically enforced religion is being replaced with peer-voted and institutionalized bias.
The religious dogmatism that shrouded Europe for over a millennium will pale in comparison to the global nature of the new dark age of secular dogmatism. Due to the advancement of technology and the connectivity of social media, mob mentality has the virality to spread across geographical, socioeconomic, and racial divides. While humanity may have outgrown the sadism of physical torture, the psychological methods of silencing dissenters can be as mentally destructive. Those that are courageous enough to voice an opinion counter to the societal narrative are psychologically burned at the stake with psychic attack and incessant verbal harassment. They are torn limb-by-limb by the public eye and there is not one stone of their human error left unturned and scrutinized. The spirit of the opposer is slow-cooked until they either grow silent out of self-preservation or find new ways of withstanding the attacks.
The facilitator of the social persecution is not religious in nature, but a self-feeding secular morality. Human consciousness acts as an incubator of ideas. When an idea is viable and infectious enough, it takes over the zeitgeist for an indefinite amount of time. In the same way that the civilians watched in glee while an adulterous pagan was hung at the gallows as retribution for their sin, the nonconformist is publicly punished for expressing “wrong” ideas toward government, religion, health, spirituality etc. The vicious nature of both attacks stems from the genuine belief in the moral rightness of their actions against a perceived evil; and reinforced by in-group bias. Once society dictates what thoughts can and can not be expressed, it careens toward an intellectual and spiritual abyss.
However, the dark age cannot last forever and every reign must come to an end. The light of free-expression will pierce the night once the people grow tired of censorship and coercion. During every bleak era in history, there are those who irreversibly changed the landscape of society one daring idea at a time. The Joan of Arc, Martin Luther, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s of the world, the audacious ones that dared to speak, write and imagine a better planet will be the ones that challenge the status quo– if for nothing else than the conviction to live authentically to their ideas and beliefs. The emergence of the new dark age isn’t a cause for cynicism or pessimism, but spiritual preparation and an immovable conviction. It is this inner light that can withstand even the darkest of times.
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