Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the peopleKarl Marx
Whenever I am away, travelling or wherever I am. I always visit a cathedral. I will always light a candle. I will always remember Christingle with its dolly mixture on cocktail sticks in a satsuma, it’s tin foil and candle on the loose.
In that moment I will remember all those that are now not with me, for those who are suffering or those who are struggling. Through that simple act of bringing light into darkness, and watch as others do. It feels a little magical. I don’t have to believe anything will happen. But the ritual is important nonetheless.
And it is within these vast buildings, built as tall, wide, decoratively and expressively as possible; is the sense of worship – definition “to like”; bought to life.
More often than not, these buildings would have been built by labourers who had no other choice. Lived in squalor. The architects would have wanted to push the boundaries, finding no other place than religion to commission their finest work.
And it is with that I arrive back at Marx. Today we worship many things, and spread our likes across many places. Canary Wharf tube station is described as the cathedral of the underground. The Shard is the tallest and most expensive building in London, hosting the most refined brands in office space. Wembley Stadium roars as people jeer out “Sweet Caroline” to every victory. To me when I watched the crowds roar, this was a new cathedral, a new place of worship at the Lionesses who did, what the mens team could not.
Our concept of worship, is no longer bound to singular buildings, creeds, religions, places to live as it once was.
And it is with that I wonder what people really worship today. What is our relief? What is my relief? When is the moment that I can let go of “the sentiment of the heartless world”?
Collectively we pour our worship into sport, into heroes, into gods, into national heroes, into the NHS, doctors and nurses.
But we really struggle to be kind, to like, to worship one another. Days can pass unnoticed. The everyday merging into some form of grey sky.
My favourite antithesis to worship is the daily mail comments section, gossip magazines, chat shows, Twitter, PM Question Time, any conservative leader looking for election, the Johnny Depp libel trials.
It can be soulless. Soulless to the invisible structures that we can’t see, can’t change, won’t change or refuse to accept exist. Ignorance is the first sign of acceptance.
Our boss, that companies policy, that process, that bloody driver, that bloody cyclist, Evri/Hermes, someone not understanding us, won’t this person just get out of my way! (And thats just what’s in my head).
We are slaves to the rhythm of the everyday life. All the things we can’t change, but really could.
I have always thought it weird that people will only let out their joy, their worship, their attention to limited events/moments. And it can really be a struggle to find a smile, a laugh within the everyday.
Everyone I know has said: the atmosphere was incredible then, the place was buzzing, all the cheering, the energy of the crowd….
It makes a huge difference. I accept that I’m a moody cow sometimes, but small shifts in energy, small changes in conversation, a light touch here, a giggle, a stare; shifts the energy of any relationship, any conversation, any interaction.
Yesterday I realised that some of my well intentioned thank yous, have a lovely day and well wishes ended with a Chloe O’Brien moment (TV Series: 24).
I think those moments are my sarcasm and passive aggressiveness.
Life is super annoying. People don’t understand one another. People have little time to even try. And don’t get me started on intolerance for conflict. Or the ability to accept and process cognitive dissonance. Or even that there may be more than one truth! But I’ve been there, I still have the same struggles. People pleaser hello!
Opiate of the masses
Marx blamed religion for acting as an opiate and drug for the masses. One has to ask; who is really creating the society that needs an opiate or drug? The bourgeoisie don’t control our everyday. Their influence tends to be the headlines of the everyday. Not all the little things that happen in every passing moment.
Everyone can strive to at least attempt kindness in the everyday. And reduce that need for relief. I try to bring that energy. When your belief isn’t always staring back at you, it’s hard not to be a mirror. And that’s when people begin to loose their religion.
And for me, and others, life becomes no more than a cynical ploy to make us consume, use, read, purchase and advertise more.