I don’t think you’ll believe this. I don’t blame you. I’m having a hard time believing it myself.
I’m sitting at the coffee house of our local bookstore waiting for an NPR download to finish. To keep from going mad from the slow pace of the download, I’m reading the local newspaper. There is an article about the Southern Poverty Law Center suing the second largest chapter of the KKK in the US over a brutal beating members inflicted on a sixteen year-old boy in Kentucky.
I think I blurted out something like, “Damn, these guys just won’t quit.” A fellow sitting behind me and I imagine reading over my shoulder said, “The KKK started here in Tennessee, you know. They meant well, though I guess they turned bad after a while, but the real KKK is even worse.”
Let me give you some advice. When someone starts to talk about the Ku Klux Klan you should smile and move away. Good advice. I wish I had taken it. Instead I said, “What’s the real KKK?”
“Kikes, Koons, and Katholics,” the man said. And then he smiled and moved away adding, “And don’t you forget it.”
I won’t. I can’t. I don’t want to. It is vitally important that we don’t forget there are people out there (in here; next door) who live off of hate.
I want to believe that people are good; that education will solve all our problems, and that someday all religions will embrace. I want to believe these things, but I can’t. People easily rationalize the greatest evil; even the most educated people can believe insanity and act wickedly—look at the terrorist doctors for the latest example; and, as the Pope has just made so clear, religions will never embrace as long as religious leaders are invested in winning the war for God’s all too limited love.
Is there something that will stop the madness? Yes, I think there is. It is learning how to question your most cherished beliefs and the authority that enforces them. So let me add a fourth and fifth K to the mix: Kafka and Krishnamurti. These are two great modern masters of wisdom. Each in his own way points to the madness that passes for sanity in our world. Each in his own way points beyond it. If you haven’t read these two geniuses, please do so. If you have read them, reread them. I know of know better way to cleanse the mind of the smugness of self-delusion.