A lesson quickly learned in New Jersey is that the state has housed its fair share of geniuses and that inspiration takes many different forms. From Albert Einstein to Thomas Edison, these thinkers have changed the complexion of not only the state and country, but also of the entire world. While on a visit to Edison’s final factory and laboratory in West Orange yesterday, his devotion to thinking could not be overlooked. With little formal education, Thomas Edison taught himself what was necessary to become one of the most prolific inventors in the history of the world. The key to what he believed to be purpose of human existence is, sadly, under fire from politicians who’d rather keep the populace in the dark while they (the politicians) make the important decisions. “The man who doesn’t make up his mind to cultivate the habit of thinking misses the greatest pleasure in life.” So Edison said. Bully governors would rather turn out the lights.
As politics and conservative Christianity become even more intimate – if that is even possible – those who do not share their views are considered dangerous outsiders. As a religion specialist, it is difficult to gauge how sincerely such politicians take their religion. As their lifestyles clearly indicate, what they practice is as far from what they preach as the east is far from the west. Manipulating sincere, if misguided, believers into marks that will propel them into seats of power, they talk the talk. “Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction – faith in fiction is a damnable false hope.” So said Edison.
If we measure the religion of the Religious Right in terms of action, it clear that their principles have far less to do with what Jesus said and did than with securing personal gain. Women are placed in subordinate positions; the poor, minorities, those who work to keep the economy afloat while the wealthy suck in more than they could possibly use, these people become targets rather than neighbors. Roman emperors knew the society was dissatisfied and provided bread and circuses. The Religious Right is perfectly capable of learning the more insidious lessons of history. If they had been around in Edison’s lifetime, no doubt they would have tried to turn off the lights so that we’d all remain in the dark. In such a situation it might be wise to leave the final words to Edison: “Religion is all bunk.”