Driving along the highway in my ’99 Mitsubishi, I’ve got the radio cranked up as I beat my rearview mirror with my drumstick. (I always drum and drive). One of my favorite 80’s songs plays on the radio, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. I’ve sung the song mindlessly for years, but for some reason this time the refrain hits me.
I stop drumming and started thinking.
Seems to me this song is expressing a pretty profound truth. On some level, don’t all of us want to rule the world – or at least think the world would be better off if we ruled it? Don’t we all believe that if only our ideas were enforced in society, society would be fixed? Does this conviction lie behind each and every one of our judgments? Think about it. Don’t all judgments translate, “If you were like me – e.g. thought like me, behaved like me, felt like me, etc. –the world would be better off”?
This, of course, is the original sin: eating from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Repenting of Religion). And it lies behind most of the violence perpetrated throughout history. When two tribes or nations go at each other, aren’t they really playing “king of the throne” – essentially no different from two kids playing “king of the hill” — fighting each other for ”ruler-rights”? Doesn’t everyone kill for (their version of) “God and country” and “truth and righteousness”? True, the explicit issues that serve as a catalyst for fighting vary from war to war, but isn’t it true that at the foundation of each conflict is the conviction that our way of thinking is superior to your way of thinking, and if our superior thinking had its way, the world would be a better place?