It’s the trump card of all ethical disputes and for good reason. “Wake up, people! It’s 2016!” always seals the deal. Brandished by people from all walks of life such as elected officials, religious clergy, genetic researchers, and corporate executives, this is one phrase that we are sure will never get old.
When we evoke the power of the current year we do so believing that this year’s values are manifestly better than those values of years before. We do so because we have researched thoroughly and we can say with certainty that humanity’s moral trajectory is ever improving. We believe that “Wake up people! It’s 2016!” will win all our moral arguments because it always has. Here are some examples of how fantastic this argument has been from a historical perspective, and I’m going to do it without even mentioning Hitler as an example.
“Wake up, people! It’s 1930!”
The voice of the workers had finally prevailed! The U.S.S.R was up and running on all cylinders. Stalin’s five-year plan was two years in and it had all the moral authority of a modern state behind it. Private property was confiscated, farms were collectivized, and the agricultural excess from this genius plan would be used to feed the newly created industrial work base. Unfortunately, there was opposition. Peasants took issue with the food they produced being confiscated. They held on to antiquated notions of private property. “Wake up, peasants! It’s 1930! This is the way things are now. This is progress.”
Around seven million peasants died in those first years, 20 million during Stalin’s rule, but the U.S.S.R went on to be an economic powerhouse that put to shame the corruption of the capitalist world for years to come.
“Wake up, people! It’s 1793!”
The King of France is dead and so is his whore of a wife! They were making society anew and it was finally time to do something about all these churches. Under the leadership of great men like Robespierre, France began to de-Christianize their nation. Streets were renamed, crosses taken down, and church clergy were openly mocked and abused. Because the people still needed some sort of symbol to worship, the revolutionaries erected a statue of the goddess of reason and turned Notre Dame Cathedral into a house of worship for her. Many of those who thought the revolution had gone too far lost their head. After all, they were stuck in the past. “Wake up, people! It’s 1793! Christianity is on its way out!”
Thanks to the enlightened efforts of the revolutionaries, churches around the world have replaced their crosses with statues of Reason.
“Wake up, people! It’s 1619!”
The Jamestown settlement was only 12 years along and the struggling colony needed labor. A Dutch ship came into the harbor with a few African slaves. The idea of servants was not a foreign concept, but the English traditionally had moral reservations with slavery. It took the English a while to figure out that they could retain the Africans and their children as slaves indefinitely, but they eventually were able to justify it because of their racial superiority. After all, it’s a brave new world and a brave new era. The Spanish and Portuguese had been bringing African Slaves over for about a century. It was time to catch up. “Wake up, people! It’s 1619! African Slavery is the wave of the future.”
This system of race-based slavery would go on to become extremely popular all over the British Caribbean and Southern Colonies. It was such a good idea that historians have had a difficult time identifying any social, political, or economic problems resulting from this benevolent system.
“Wake up, people! It’s 860 BC!”
Yahweh just wasn’t sexy enough. Mosaic Covenant just didn’t offer the kind of sex the people wanted. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel used their executive powers to change that. They blurred the lines between Yahweh with Baal and set up Asherah poles. Asherah was god’s consort and she was worshiped through idols and the kind of revelry that happens around a gigantic phallic symbol. As much fun as Asherah worship was, Baal was even better! He brought the rain, the crops, and the babies! His worshipers copulated with temple prostitutes or cut themselves depending on what the occasion called for. Most of those opposed to these innovations lost their lives. Elijah wouldn’t give in. “Wake up, prophet! It’s 860! The covenant is archaic; let’s have some real fun!”
The next time you’re tempted to argue against the impeccable logic embedded in the phrase “It’s 2016,” just remember this history lesson. There is no future in your past. Yahweh is obsolete, this Baal guy will never get old.
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