"New York State of Mind"
By Bill Fairchild
Billy Joel published a song with that title in 1975. The song is melancholy, and is about a New Yorker who is sorry he moved away and is longing to get back to the Manhattan he so sorely misses.
I used to dislike New York City. It always seemed dirty, over-crowded, crime-ridden, and filled with endless traffic jams and so many mentally unstable people.
I have been to Manhattan several times on business trips and personal vacations, and have had my mental stereotypes reaffirmed by some people there but have also have my prejudices upset by other New Yorkers who seemed genuinely friendly, caring, and like real human beings.
I have a much different opinion now. All of a sudden, I am proud of New York City and its people. On television I see men wearing hard hats who are working 12-hour shifts to remove the 1,200,000 tons of rubble that used to be the World Trade Center that now lie in an ugly heap on top of what used to be 6,000 human beings. Those emotionally devastated emergency workers, many of whom have suddenly lost dozens of close friends in one stroke, are forcing themselves to keep working. They will stay at it until they break down. Hooray for their indomitable spirit! I am proud that New York City is a part of my homeland, and that I am privileged to live in a nation that has a place as fine as New York City.
New Yorkers have proven worthy of their giant guardian, the Statue of Liberty. I still get goose-bumps when I read Emma Lazarus's poem "The New Colossus" that is carved on its base: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
I am also terribly proud of the men who attacked the hijackers on the plane that crashed into rural Pennsylvania. I doubt that any plane can be hijacked in the United States now. There would be dozens of passengers swarming all over the hijackers within seconds.
An often told joke was that New York City was a great place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there. I want to go visit New York City even more now, to share in the pain of those who are suffering, to experience the enthusiasm and resolve evinced by those who are cleaning up so they can start to rebuild, to do my part in stimulating that area economically by spending tourist dollars there, to tell strangers there how proud of them I am, and to be inspired by their heroic examples.
But I have to admit that I want to live there even less than before. I would be proud to live there if I had to, but only if I had to, because I think that that great warren of high-rise office buildings, subways, tunnels, and millions of people have become a very dangerous place to live and work. And those who could move away but choose to continue living and working there are also heroes simply for staying put.
The devastation caused on September 11 by a small gang of psychopaths should be a mind-jarring wake-up call to the whole world of the dangers of crazed religious cults. Those of us who have come out of the fanatical religious cult called Armstrongism should be painfully aware that what Al-Qaeda did on 911 is the same that we could have done if Armstrong's cult had been allowed to continue growing unchecked.
Every person on earth needs to read "The True Believer" by Eric Hoffer. If we all read it, then perhaps a few may be plucked from the fire of endemic cultism. Hoffer wrote this book in 1951, long before the Worldwide Church of God became prominent or a hundred-million dollar a year engine of fraud. He certainly wasn't writing his book just about Herbert W. Armstrong's cult. Yet when I read this book in 1974 and when I reread it this year, almost every page seems to contain a warning about HWA and his cult.
The full title of Hoffer's book is "The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements." Hoffer discusses common traits found in those who start mass movements, those who lead mass movements, those who become the top lieutenants in mass movements, and those who join mass movements at the bottom level. He also discusses the life cycle of mass movements - how they are born, how they grow, and how they stagnate and die.
I urge everyone reading this web page to read Hoffer's excellent little book. As you read it, think of the following, for they are all examples of the mass movements he had in mind when writing it: the Roman Empire, Christianity, Islam, the Crusades, the Salem witch hunt, the American Revolution of 1776, the French Revolution of 1789, the anti-Tsarist revolution in Russia in 1917, the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917, Stalin's purges in the 1930s, Stalin's gulags, Hitler's Nazi Germany, Mussolini's fascist Italy, Japan's warrior society, Armstrongism, Gandhi in India, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, McCarthyism, all American religious revivalists (e.g., A. A. Allen, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Rex Humbard, Pat Robertson), National Organization for Women, hippies, Mao's cultural revolution in China, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Jim Jones and the People's Temple, the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, Aum Shin Rikyo in Japan, Promise Keepers, Heaven's Gate, the Solar Temple, and the New Age movement.
Not all the movements I mentioned above turned out bad. Hoffer discusses how mass movements can end up being a positive change in humanity as well as becoming destructive.
Here are some quotes from Hoffer's book that relate obviously to HWA's gigantic fraud disguised as a cult disguised as a church that I hope will whet your appetite to read the whole book:
"All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die ..., breed ... fervent hope ... and intolerance, ... demand blind faith...
Faith in the future renders us receptive to change. ... All mass movements are interchangeable [explains how fervent cultists can easily jump from one cult to another]. ...
We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or ... "to be free from freedom." ... a proselytizing mass movement must break down all existing group ties if it is to win a considerable following ... the inordinately selfish ...are likely to be the most persuasive champions of selflessness [think about HWA, GTA, and their hideous excesses]...
All mass movements deprecate the present by depicting it as a mean preliminary to a glorious future, a mere doormat on the threshold of the millennium. ...
A deprecating attitude toward the present fosters a capacity for prognostication ... the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine ...
To rely on the evidence of the senses and of reason is heresy ... those who find no difficulty in deceiving themselves are easily deceived by others ... stripping each human entity of its distinctiveness and ... turning it into an anonymous particle with no will and no judgment of its own ... a homogeneous plastic mass that can be kneaded at will. ... the leader of a mass movement ... relies on miracles ... mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil ...
Every difficulty and failure within the movement is the work of the devil...
In the phenomenal spread of Islam, conquest was a primary factor and conversion was a by-product. ...
The main requirements [for a mass movement's leader] seem to be: audacity and a joy in defiance; an iron will; a fanatical conviction that he is in possession of the one and only truth; ... and, above all, the ability to evoke fervent devotion in a group of able lieutenants [like all the evangelists, Raymond "Mr. Loyalty" McNair, Gerald Waterhouse, Rod Meredith, etc.]
There can be no mass movement without some deliberate misrepresentation of facts. ... the atmosphere of an active movement stifles the creative spirit.
The fanatic is also mentally cocky ... the conviction that life and the universe conform to a simple formula ...
In the eyes of the true believer, people who have no holy cause are without backbone and character ... fanaticism ... was a Judaic-Christian invention."
If anyone wants to let someone else do his thinking for him, he should remember Auschwitz, Jim Jones, Heaven's Gate, the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the plane that nose-dived into the soil of southwestern Pennsylvania. This is where religious fanaticism ends up - death, destruction, and thousands of survivors grieving for those who are lost and wondering how could so many people believe such insanity. Anyone who thinks he has found an infallible leader, knows the absolute truth, or is on a mission from God should reflect on where such ideas can lead. Religious fanaticism and cultism can easily lead to lying to oneself, lying to others, murder, mass murder, and mass destruction. All cultists, extremists, and zealots need to think about the missing 6,000 people and the missing World Trade Center, put themselves into a New York state of mind, and think about what their zeal may lead them to do.
Bill Fairchild Douglas, Mass. 09 OCT 01
(For more quotations from The True Believer, click here.)
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