There was a time when people believed that a seizure was caused by demon possession. Fortunately, scientists debunked that superstitious myth.
And yet, those stories told to us by our youth ministers, parents, and grandparents about the devil lurking behind every corner, spying on us, waiting for an opportunity to sweep us off our feet and carry our souls to hell cling to the nooks and crannies of our brains like sticky tape.
When will these fantastical stories cease to influence our thinking?
This morning, I dropped by the office of my tax accountant to sign some papers and pick up my completed tax documents. Somehow, the nice ladies in the office and I became involved in a conversation that quickly revealed that superstition is very much alive in 2022.
By some strange fluke, we got on the topic of seances and ouija boards.
Here I was wearing a mask as usual while they were maskless in a small office with low ceilings and poor ventilation telling me that they wouldn’t go near a house containing a ouija board. Their grimaces, which I could plainly see because they weren’t wearing masks, accentuated their horror.
Ouija boards are scary tools of the demon world. They weren’t about to mess with something they didn’t understand. Never! Ever!
The whole time, I was asking myself how was it possible that they were still heeding the warnings of a preacher from their childhood but totally fine with ignoring the warnings of highly trained epidemiologists?
During a world pandemic no less where death has become a daily topic of conversation.
I mean if I were to bet on the likelihood of encountering a demon while standing near a ouija board or becoming infected by Omicron while standing maskless with a group of friends, you can bet your sweet ass which one I’d put my money on.
Americans are highly superstition while at the same time remaining equally suspicious of scientific facts. I’d go a step further and say that superstition wins hands down over science in our culture.
Recently, a friend who had recovered from Covid, the Delta variant, told me that she ended up in the ER where she received the monoclonal treatments.
She was feeling better finally, but rather than spend time talking about the treatments she received, she gave me links to foot soaks that she was now using. It was apparent that these soaks that were guaranteed to draw toxins out of your body were of greater value to her than anything her doctor could offer.
I accepted the links just like I gently nodded my head when the nice ladies in my accountant’s office told me about the dangers of ouija boards.
Fortunately, no one could see the expression on my face because, well, you know, I had on a mask. Otherwise, they might have noticed my mouth was hanging open in disbelief.
Yet, by now, I should know about the American disdain for intellectual pursuits, scientists, education, and facts of any kind.
I was an educator who spent most of my life in a career that clearly revealed that most parents had little regard for education. Many could barely write a complete sentence. Their reading comprehension was low. They provided almost no support to their own child’s educational development.
I was also raised in a religious cult where stories of the devil, demons, and folklore were more common than scientific explanations. I mean it doesn’t get any more wacky doodle than an evangelical upbringing.
Americans continue to pass on to their offspring a deeply disturbing pride in severely limiting belief systems. Is it any wonder that solving problems in modern life is such a slow and tedious process? Even as we have accumulated the largest knowledge base of any time in history, there’s a stubborn resistance to using this knowledge to improve life.
Even though people are living longer, with more creature comforts and conveniences than at any time in history, Americans are unable to appreciate how we got to where we are or how much more progress could be made.
In order to make progress, however, we’re forced to haul the vast majority of Americans along with us as they dig in their heels. The fact that we’re still more convinced that the ouija board is a bigger threat to us than this insidious virus that has killed almost a million Americans in the past two years tells me all I need to know.
Maybe we aren’t equipped to fight off demons and viruses at the same time?
It’s so frustrating to live in a society where science and education is seen as a bad idea. It’s as though everyone bought into the myth about that damn apple in the garden of Eden.
You know what I mean?
Our hallowed stories make it pretty clear that the only fruit that was off limits to our ancestors were the apples that grew on the Tree of Knowledge. Knowledge was withheld for our own good. Knowledge isn’t seen as power. We’re told over and over again that knowledge is dangerous.
America truly is the land of of the superstitious.