The Mind-Eating Virus Most Likely to Cause Human Extinction

"No deed too dirty for a saint like me!"

Posted Jul 15, 2020

For all the curses that we throw and recycle at this or that cult, we have yet to put a finger on, let alone drive a stake through, any cult’s mindless heartlessness. Our invective is at most therapeutic for us with little effect on them.

Cultists are shape-shifters, masters of deflection, but it’s not a blur of various identities. They’re actually shape-togglers shuttling fluidly between two identities, prude and brat, pope and punk, saint and cynic, family-values and anarchist revolt, high-horse parent and petulant child, defenders of the status quo and cultural wrecking crew, upholders of moral propriety and rabid dismantlers.

Yes, that’s just another example of a cult’s hypocrisy, but I think it’s the pivotal one, the mother of all of their hypocrisies. It’s how they declare their foes losers for not meeting their moral standards and losers for caring about moral standards. These shape-togglers reproach people for being immoral and conversely for trying to be moral. 

Holy war is an oxymoron: Holiness is a commitment to righteousness but all’s fair in war. There’s no racket one can’t dignify with holy war because there’s no deed too dirty for the saints who wage it. 

Cults don’t just go low. They go above and below, anywhere but meeting us at eye level. They’re pedant parents talking down to us, or petulant teens complaining about how domineering we are. That’s how they escape adult-to-adult debate. It’s “shame on you!” when that’s to their advantage and when we try shaming them, it’s “So what? You do it too” cynicism.

You don't have to be dumb to become one of these shape-toggling cultists fluidly shifting between playing saint and boor. You just have to be a little hungry, lazy, or swept up in some supposedly holy war.

The dumbness comes easily with time. Thinking about your inconsistency only gets in the way. Discover this shape-toggling trick and your mind just atrophies. You've found a more efficient way to thrive: 

Ignore words. Listen for sounds. If you hear threats to your authority, ape saintly high-horse condemnation. If you hear concern and care, ape crass ridicule and contempt. That's all. Two buttons; two pre-recordings. You'll find you no longer need a mind or a heart. 

Nothing purges a conscience as fast as outrage and with shape-toggling, you have the only two routes to outrage you’ll ever need — caring and not caring about moral standards.

Their cardinal sin is something viral. It's not alive and yet it's a parasite that makes rabid dogs of people. There have been epidemics of it throughout history. No deed too dirty for the holy warriors for any cause. It’s how anyone plays God, eternally omnificent, omnipotent, and omniscient. It’s the ass’s-holy trinity whereby saintliness licenses sin, sin wins, and winning “proves” saintliness. 

Here’s an intervention letter explaining the situation to a cultist of any kind. 

Dear Cultist,

It's not you. It's a bug that's always going around. You just happened to get infected by it, a host for a common parasite in one of history's typical epidemics.

The bug infects the brain. It convinces the host that they're not infected, that instead, everyone else is. It's like rabies. A rabid dog thinks it's normal and that the rest of the world has gone mad. That's a survival advantage for the bug. It keeps the infected host from seeking treatment.

The bug alters the host's brain, making them feel like they've not just OK but superhuman. Getting infected is not like becoming a zombie. Your brain doesn't shrink, it swells. Like a rabid dog, you become fearless, fierce, full of yourself, and then you die but not without spreading it to others.

Whatever you believed before you were infected, you start insisting on it like you're the god of truth. The bug has always made people feel exceptional and exempt. Like when it infected people with communism. Again, that's to the bug's advantage.

I know you think you're the mortal enemy of communism. Again, that's the bug altering your brain. The more the bug can get factions fighting against each other the more it spreads. Rabid dogs attacking each other spread the virus faster.

Yes, it's always been disappointing for people to realize they and their beliefs aren't exceptional, that it's just a common virus going around. It makes them want to attack the interveners.

But many people have bravely accepted treatment. The treatment works. The victims survive. They, their family, and friends are glad for the intervention. Better that than dying lonely, sad, failed in a pool of your own drool.

We're not asking you to join our side. Just to get rid of the bug and rejoin humanity. We didn't go crazy. We're still here. You didn't either. You just got infected by a common bug.