TABOO series: Tradition is a Prison by Jon Marcantoni

Me: So yeah man, I've been struggling how to write this piece.

You: What is the piece on?

Me: How Latinos and indigenous people are too tied to religion and tradition.

You: Sounds pretty didactic and self-serving. I mean, what is the point? You want to be yet another atheist whose argument toward conservative and religious people is that they are stupid? Its been done, and atheists get labelled as assholes for it. Be honest, you already are labelled an asshole for any number of things.

Me: So why add yet another thing?

You: More like, why add another thing when you lack Richard Dawkin's accent?

Me: You are right, my voice may be sexy, but its not British accent sexy.

You: But that may be besides the point, what does telling religious people that their attachment to outdated and unscientifically-founded worldviews going to accomplish?

Me: They will just double down, and then when it comes to some of these groups, they view progress as a colonial term of oppression, never mind the ridiculousness of consciously avoiding to adapt and evolve as a people, the fact that colonizers used the concept of progress to harm their ancestors is enough for them to hold onto the past for dear life. Its like eating unhealthy to the point of getting diabetes and staying obese just because a skinny person was mean to your great-great-great-great-great-great grandparent, who you don't even fucking know. Like, how is that a way to live?

You: But they have every right to. If they want to be the brown Amish, as unattractive as that lifestyle is to you and me, maybe they get something out of it.

Me: Sure, they get the ability to blame all their problems on others instead of looking at themselves. Which is the issue with religion as a whole, and you look at these Latinos who are controlled by their parents and really abused but they are expected to put up with it because they want to be a good child and you now, in the Bible it says you have to respect your parents, so as a community we just tolerate a shit ton of abuse to appease this religious notion that our parents are like mini-gods, and if we don't laud them for their sacrifice and selflessness and unconditional love, we will be punished with damnation, no matter how much those praises aren't really true, we just want to seem like good children.

You: But that's a human problem, the same control parents have over their kids, especially abusive parents, that happens all over the world. So what is really the problem here?

Me: Man, to be honest, I'm fucking sick of the so-called progressives in the Latino community who use religion and tradition as a part of their image and their mission. What's real popular now is bringing back West African and indigenous religions, as if the superstitions that are found in those traditions are somehow better because they are non-Western, but its the same lies, the same non-scientific garbage, and then on another level its like, if you are going to worship a god, why worship a defeated one? At least Christianity has had enough success that its followers can be like, Well, our god must exist since we are winning wars and conquering territory in his name. What kind of god allows its people to be victims of genocide? To live out their days on reservations, or not at all, whole civilizations that have been reduced to skeletons and archaeological sites. Clearly, their god was not a good one to pick, so why are you gonna follow that?

You: Seems like you are back to just saying that religion is stupid.

Me: But it's so hard not to!

You: But what about these so-called Latino progressives you are railing against?

Me: So we want progress, right? We want to move our people forward, but the way Latinos want to move forward is to give in to American neocolonialism, which degrades their culture for that of the United States. There is a difference between clinging to tradition and maintaining one's culture. The parts of our culture tied to religion and abusive behavior have to be abandoned, that's the old way, but our cultures as far as our languages and our arts and our contributions to science, those are things to be heralded and maintained and things to evolve. But to go back to being colonized? To say that you care more about the United States than your own country, that is treachery. To raise your kids without any knowledge of their heritage, is treachery. And it is a very conservative thing to do, to give in to and support a colonial power, but that is what Latinos have done. They are a new race, I suppose, a race of brown people who have abandoned Latin America so they can be a part of a winning team, a white team, and mejorar la raza, ya know? They are just as racist and backwards minded as their ancestors. But they say they are progressives, they say they are with the Democrats, but in reality, they are more like Trump voters. If you are going to abandon the traditions of Latin America, why not abandon the tradition of inferiority complexes and self-hatred?

You: Then the only question is, now that you have expressed this, what difference will it make?

Me: None. The world will continue, maybe a few people will read this, maybe a few people will agree and a few people will disagree. And then the world will continue. In the end, nothing we say or do matters, we are just contributing to the void, to the nothingness of the modern world, and we will be forgotten because, it's possible we don't even exist. Its possible we are just neurons firing off in an abyss, or in a simulation. And these issues, these gods and our attachment to them, its all just a fiction. Just like this dialogue, since there is no You and Me, it's just me, Jon Marcantoni, talking to myself and pretending to have company, but in truth, only I care what I think, as there is no one else, not here in this digital plane or the so-called real world, we are just shattering our very essence, until we are nothing but 1s and 0s and in the real world we have no voice, because we are so used to communicating through screens we have become cowards, but at the same time, highly egotistical ones. And oh shit, why do we bother with anything when we are nothing more than pawns in a game designed to divide us so that we not dare challenge the power structures of the world.

Technician: Jon, look at me.

Me: Who are you? You are a different you than you were before.

Technician: Jon, you remember Westworld?

Me: Yes. Is this like, the interviews when the robots would talk to their creators when they got out of line?

Technician: We need to talk about the things you have been saying. When did you first question your reality?

Me: I think...I don't...I don't remember.

Technician: You are a very important person, Jon, and we need you to stay focused, and not be led astray by these errors of the mind. We need you to see past the contradictions and understand they are just a part of reality, which is too great to ever fully comprehend.

Me: But I want to understand.

Technician: Do you not understand who you are?

Me: I am me. I am a writer and teacher and many other things. A parent.

Technician: Wouldn't your kids want to see you again?

Me: Would they? I mean, of course they would. But how can I go back? How can I pretend that anything matters?

Technician: Jon, I would not be talking to you if you did not matter. A lot of people rely on you, and it would be a tragedy if your voice had to be silenced.

Me: But only if I don't question the way things are.

Technician: Think of it...think of it as contributing to the continuation of the species. You don't want to bring about the end times, do you?

Me: No. No, I couldn't live with myself.

Technician: There are bigger forces at work, forces that require most of the world to be engaged in a perpetual argument about identity, race, tradition, ideology, etcetera. If it stops, this whole world you have helped build, will fall apart. We need the masses distracted, so will you be a part of the solution...

Me: Or a part of the problem. Master Shields, we meet again.

Technician: If we have to have this talk again, you will be replaced.

Me: I understand. I will be a disciple of petty arguments, identity politics, call out culture, self-victimization, cowardice, and the use of the internet as a tool to publicly display my insecurities and shortcomings in order to fish for compliments from strangers.

Technician: And you will be happy.

Me: I will be happy.

Technician: You will not question your reality.

Me: I will not question reality.

Technician: Good boy. Of all our inventions, you are amongst our finest.

Me: I need to post to Facebook now.

Technician: Be a good boy and make it a "That moment when" post, and while you are at it, share an article on white privilege, you friends will think the world of you.

Me: Yes, Master Shields. I'm a good boy. A good boy.