I fact check a popular conspiracy theory.
I found myself going down a bit of a worm-hole when I stumbled across ‘the cremation of cares’ ceremony on the internet the other day.
If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the opening ritual in a week-long gathering at Bohemian Grove. Bohemian Grove is a sort of Californian holiday park for the who’s who of wealth and power. Some people say ‘Illuminati’. Members include Ronald Regan, Richard Nixon and Walter Cronkite.
This club has been closed to women for most of its life and is fairly secretive with what it gets up to. So it attracts a lot of suspicion.
Some people say that ‘the cremation of cares’ is about the shedding and shredding of human empathy – a process that is necessary if you’re to become a fully-functional member of elite society – i.e. someone who is willing to butt their cigar out on the butt cheeks of third world slaves.
Others say that ‘cares’ here just means anxieties and worries, not empathy. The ritual is simply an invitation to leave your worries at the door and enjoy the festivities the week has to offer.
What’s the truth of it? Who knows. It’s fun to speculate, but I’m only interested in actionable knowledge these days.
(Though this obviously has the illuminati’s fingerprints all over it.)
But what I thought was interesting is the cultural touchstones this conspiracy uses to feel so believable.
And I don’t want to use conspiracy theory in a negative sense here. Conspiracies are real. They happen. Not all of them obviously, but don’t judge a theory by who it hangs out with.
But anyway, this theory taps into the idea that to accumulate serious wealth and power you have to have a sociopathic lack of empathy. You have to be completely morally bankrupt.
And it’s not just something that looks good on your resume when applying to join the Illuminati. It’s actually a required skill. Ruthlessly oppressing sheeple without any flinches of moral qualms is part of the job description.
And when you get to that level of power and wealth, you have a self-enforcing culture. Innocence, purity, and righteousness simply cannot coexist. The culture’s immune system forces them out.
You hear stories of this in prison gangs. The first step of initiation is to knife someone. That way, you become damned with the rest of them. You share a common fate.
And so I can see how this story could catch on. It’s got currency.
I think we can also see it as the end game in a system that has some fairly perverse incentives.
It’s like, we all feel that we could be richer if we were willing to be more of a heartless bastard. We know we could make good money dressing toxic plastic up as baby food and selling it to orphans, but unfortunately for us, our morals get in the way.
In modern capitalism, a strongly defined sense of right and wrong is a liability. You’ll never get ahead.
And the sum effect is that everyone at the top of the pyramid is the very worst of us. It’s the people most willing to do horrible but profitable things. And if you want to compete with them, then you need to jettison your human decency, and let it burn on the funeral pyre of cares.
True or not, this story points to something.
But what I would say is that morality is not learnt. The heart has a compass. It knows right from wrong. I believe.
And because morality is part of our make-up, it cannot be ‘unlearnt’. And it can’t be destroyed by dressing up in a dress and prancing about in the forest.
And we can only go against the instincts of our heart for so long. Eventually, we break down or get cancer.
If you really want to know power – and I mean the fullness of your own power, the power that is your birth right – then you need to move in alignment with your heart.
You need to be in integrity. You need to do what your heart knows is right.
Even if the cremation of cares worked, and severed you from empathy, in doing so it would also sever your from a powerful source of energy – the energy that comes from moving in integrity and alignment and with your mission and purpose.
And so I just can’t see it as a process that’s going to give people enduring and potent power.
So the verdict on this episode of Jon Giaan’s myth busters?
Cremation of Cares?