Satan is often depicted in movies and verse as a horned half animal that offers you the world for one little favor. Think Jesus on the steeple: You can have it all, says Satan, if only you bow to me. Movies replay this for dramatic affect. Sell your soul and I’ll give you three wishes!
This is not Satan. Let me tell you about my good friend, Satan.
I have to prelude this by telling you that I became a born-again Christian about 20 years ago. I hated the Catholic church as a kid because it was boring. Sit down, stand up, give up something for Lent, recite the prayers and so forth. I did like the homilies. When I was a cognizant adult, I went to a non-denominational church that kept the good Catholic things and erased the religiosity. They played a lot of music and sang. There were no rituals. One service was completely different from the next, depending on how the spirit hit the congregants. The preacher was dynamic. I saw people speaking in tongues. I made a lot of connections. Then one day a guest speaker was selling his tapes in the foyer as I exited the church. (Remember Jesus turning over the tables of the money changers?) Then the preacher was accused of boinking one of the sheep.
I left the church.
Still, I believed in Jesus. Like Gandhi or MLK, I know that Jesus is hip. I also know that church is good for a lot of people. It provides stability, creates a community, and I have nothing against people coming together or giving 10 percent of my earnings to the church because those people are providing a service and they have to eat too.
Fine. Church can be good, but I have my own views and haven’t had the need since. I’ve read everything. The Bible, like, 40 times. All the books that weren’t included in the Bible. The Quran. Buddha. Zoraster. Hindu. Edgar Cayce. Stories of people who died and came back. Space alien accounts. Everything.
I’m a simple man. I have a good job and a good wife, a nice family and a sedate community. I live in a country in which violence is something I only read about in the papers.
This is my take on Satan. Satan is not a real being, like winged angels are not real beings. Yes, I believe that everyone has a soul or conscience that lives on after death, that there are other dimensions we are not aware of, that we think after death, that we are webbed into everyone we know in the great collective, pre- and post-life, as we know it.
Satan is your mind going along with the other sheep. For example: Cavemen went on the hunt in collective unity to find food and for protection. They talked. They shared. Later they rode horses. Less talking. Not as close, but you still had to love the horse. Still care about something. Then buggys, cars, planes, jetpacks. You ride on a horse, you stop and say howdy do to your neighbor tending his garden. You ride in a car with tinted windows, you don’t even slow down as your neighbor rakes leaves and doesn’t look up. See the difference? See the progression? Advances in technology are tools that inadvertently cause humanity to separate into escape pods. It’s good to be alone, but it’s better to share.
We used to talk, talk to neighbors, share. You knew your neighbors. My dad lived in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn and after dinner the peoples sat on the porch and talked before the radio programs came on. I live in a nice suburban community and I don’t know the name of the guy across the street. In the old days, say in the 1700s, after socialism evolved, you visited. You had communion. There were dances and shows. Peoples got together on occasion.
Then you wrote letters. Then you emailed. This is Satan’s progression. Nice at first; good idea; let’s improve the technology. All fine and good. Then you do the math and see that it adds up to individualism, rather than community.
We used to engage our fellow man face to face, but now we have computers. Sure, you can talk to someone across the globe, but is that really talking? Is anyone out there less lonely than they were before?
It’s like smoking reefer or drinking. First it’s great, your personality expands, but time makes it depressing if you keep doing it.
Now everyone is on cellphones, or has an ipod in their ear, separated from the collective. Autism has increased a hundred fold in a decade. It’s either the environment or food additives or polio needles, but we caused it.
Technology keeps old people out of the coffin. Is that an advance when they can’t speak? Or a drain when we don’t let them die with dignity? To what purpose?
Satan is not a sinister being offering you money or a deal. Satan is advances in technology and drugs that make us feel good, driven by money. Drugs are not bad. Technology advances are not bad. Satan is how these things are interpreted. It’s good for half a time, at first, in the wonder of it all, but in the big picture, Satan is the thing that separates us. The ecstasy is the prelude to loneliness. That is Satan; the dividing force. He/she is not a thing you can identify, just like God doesn’t tell you what you should do as you begin life. You have to figure it out for yourself. Satan is subtle. Call it what you wish, but this is where we are going and perhaps our legacy. Money means nothing. Religion means nothing. We are Satan, for lack of a better word, unless we smile at the girl behind the counter of the local 7-Eleven.
I don’t own a cellphone. It would be a good thing to have in the glove compartment if my car broke down, but like Fiver in Watership Down, I smell something funny.