Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Rick Edwards: Writings

Opiate of the Masses - September 3, 2010

Opiate of the Masses

Rick Edwards


The views, opinions, beliefs and philosophies expressed in the following article in no way, manner, shape, fashion or form represent the views, opinions, beliefs nor philosophies of Playground Magazine, its Publisher, Editor, writers, contributors, staff or advertisers.

My dear departed Grandma used to tell me to put my brain in gear before I set my mouth in motion; even before I entered the first grade I knew what that meant.  I asked a lot of questions when I was a kid and was often scolded for it but I learned,  both from what answers I could pry out of those around me and from the scoldings I received.  I knew little of God and nothing of Jesus until I started first grade at St. Patrick’s Catholic School and I didn’t know there was anything wrong with that until I was assimilated into the Catholic Church; they really dwelt heavily on the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus but hell, at five years old I didn’t have a clue what a virgin was nor what amounted to an immaculate conception.  Yet, I was not confused, I could read and write before I started school, and continued to ask questions, but the answers became fuzzier and fuzzier and I was told on many occasions that I simply had to believe some things and that meant having faith; needless to say, that raised even more questions.  And, I was scolded some more, actually rather violently by Sister Rose Anita as she administered corporal punishment in the form of a ruler smashed across the outstretched palm.  However, from these vague answers a personal and highly individual thought process began to emerge with such power that at the end of second grade my Mother was told that I would no longer be welcome as a student at St. Patrick’s Catholic School and they strongly recommended that I attend a public school the following year: I was seven years old and had already read all the third grade books that they had in their library and still nobody had been able to explain religion to me.  I never understood, until later in life, why I was asked to leave that school; I had learned their arithmetic, English, science and geography and had mastered the art of fighting a kid named Aubrey Freiberg every day at both recesses but I simply could not grasp their religion and that has continued to be a source of inquiry, study and scrutiny to this day. 

                When I was in fifth grade two sisters and their family moved into an apartment behind ours, Francis and Patsy Sanders; devout Catholics both.  Both were very pretty, funny and smart; we hit it off immediately and became fond friends, which was very unusual for me . . . and those girls could sing beautifully together and I would get them to sing for me as often as I could persuade them.  I used to use curse words, well I still do, but then when I did they would tell me to ask God’s forgiveness each time and those little mistakes wouldn’t be included on my permanent record in Heaven, so I cursed a little bit more than usual around them but always asked forgiveness from their God.  They helped me understand, at least a little, of what this seemingly ultra-important concept of religion is about.  But I still couldn’t get a firm grip on what the big fuss was over the Immaculate Conception achieved by the Virgin Mary; we didn’t talk much about that sort of thing in those days, those were the fifties: we had no T.V., no internet and very little radio.  But we had encyclopedias and books of wonder and I spent many days absorbed in them under the shade of an old elm down on the banks of the ol’ Chattahoochee River.  In an effort to try and comprehend what all the hoopla was about I began reading my Grandmothers Bible, starting before the first day dawned all the way through Armageddon.  By now the questions were really piling up and answers were getting scarcer and scarcer and the vagueness, the vagueness crept in upon me, eased its slimy way into my brain and the vagueness became my primary concern; since I couldn’t bring this religion thing into focus then I had to adjust, fine tune my thought process: a leap for a ten year old but not a leap of faith, a leap of self-preservation.  I had no way of knowing at that time that this method of fine tuning my thought process would guide me into and through all the bullshit that has inundated my life since then.

                Because I learned to modify my thought process, I learned that in so doing, in incorporating new information into my knowledge base, that my views and opinions in some areas were altered, some slightly, some drastically; I call this the Immaculate Contradiction, from this fodder flows creativity;  spiritually, intellectually, and philosophically.  I have had some extremely fascinating conversations with myself over the years, especially when the information is being collected rapidly and in volume, so to avoid a total shutdown I have learned to process information quickly, to recognize the sweet and the sour, the good and the evil, the black and the white and to understand the infinite, varying degrees of each.  In other words, to be totally confused and still have the wherewithal to trust myself, to truly believe that my thoughts have value and that I have enough pertinent information to formulate an informed judgment, opinion and/or philosophy. 

                Though I have determined, through much thought and study, that I am not a religious man; in my opinion, the evidence (information) is overwhelming.  However, I am a spiritual individual and do have a spiritual belief system in operation; like the universe we live in it is always changing, forever in motion, mutating at every twist and turn and infinite in its variations and is still easier for me to understand than religion, organized or otherwise.  Spirituality doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to war; religion, in one form or another, always triumphs: just look at what religion did to the American Indians and their spirituality.  Religions love war.  The religious will fight to the death to prove that their God is infinitely better than the other guys God and the religious will send countless young people to die in His name and spend billions of dollars, nay, trillions of dollars to drive the nails into the hands and feet of the other guys God.  The Bible is full of blood and gore, of plagues, locusts, floods, pestilence, the sacrificing of sheep . . . and children, all in an effort to show their God that they are worthy of his love.  Now the ol’ thought process kicks in and I cannot help but ask myself, “Is this God worthy of my love?”   And what of love, this most abstract of emotions, it too is located in the “thought process”, should it not also be held up to the light and examined like any other, thought/idea/emotion that might flash across our mind.  I say, “yes” and I’m not gonna’ let some unknown, omnipotent bully of a deity jerk me around by the very energy that holds all the pieces in place.  Why do you think we have so many religions?  If you’ve read the Bible and know the story of the Tower of Babel then you already know the answer, you just didn’t know that you knew.  The fable goes that the people were building a tower that would reach into heaven in an effort to actually visit their invisible God.  So, God, in his immaculate wisdom decided that this wouldn’t do and he made them all to speak different languages so they could not communicate and thus could not complete the tower into His domain; it’s the ol’ divide and conquer maneuver , still very much in use today.  Now, do you know why we have so many religions?

                As I entered the tenth grade I had my first real girlfriend, a steady gal and a good Baptist.  She was the love of my life; we argued a lot about religion but we truly loved each other and spent an inordinate amount of time together.  She was a majorette in the band and later became a cheerleader, I was the consummate athlete, football, baseball, track and wrestling; school was boring and I probably wouldn’t have graduated high school if not for the sports.  Like any other female she had the mothering instinct and believed that she could turn me into a good Christian Baptist person.  In time, because it meant so much to her, she was dragging me to church every Sunday and even choir practice on Wednesdays; I just wanted to be close to her and cling to that delicate thread that binds two people together in love.  I continued this course of action both with her and the religion until I graduated high school; she still had two years left.  At that time the military draft was in affect and I was regarded as a “1-A”, blue chip candidate for Uncle Sam and the war was on in Viet Nam in 1965.  Suffice it to say that life got in the way and I was spirited away from her, whoosh, like a leaf in a gale and she was gone from my life.  By that time I had a good grasp of what the Immaculate Conception was and how inconceivable and ridiculous a virgin giving birth was but I found that religion was still a concept I just couldn’t wrap my brain around.

                In the ensuing years I traveled extensively, Southeast Asia with the Army and then the Mediterranean Sea with the Navy.  In some cultures religion takes on a wholly different persona: I found that terribly intriguing and spent the next four years discovering and experiencing firsthand a multitude of strange new religions (new to me) and cultural variations of the ones I was familiar with.  I visited temples, mosques and cathedrals of every variety, many of them thousands of years old; I was hoping that somehow, someway this God might contact me if I made myself available in these ancient, holy places.  But, alas, I received no word from God and was sorely disappointed.  I studied Buddhism and Hinduism with all their Zen, transcendental meditation and incense but their little statues of Buddha and other deities laughingly reminded me of the plastic Jesus statues that Americans used to stick on the dashboards of their cars.  I was more confused than ever but I just kept on reading, after all, information fed my thought process, which was going through yet another metamorphosis. 

                And, now, forty years after all that and countless volumes of the written word concerning religion, the Apocrypha, the omitted books of the Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Urantia Book and many other strange, mystical and thought provoking books.  I studied Edgar Cayce, the sleeping prophet, Joseph Campbell and his mythology theories, Kahlil Gibran and his Christ-like writings and anything I thought might offer a clue as to even one answer to my many questions concerning religion, all to no avail.  I have read philosophy from Plato to Emerson to George Carlin and I pay close attention to the discovery of new texts being found that may shed some light on the subject.  Yet, I stand here now with the same view on religion as when my quest began, a little more enlightened, a little more educated but still clueless as to why so much emphasis is placed on religion, the opiate of the masses.   

Look Into The Picture - January 16, 2010

Look Into The Picture

August 9, 1987

Look into the picture and see how deep it goes

Read between the lines to find what the poet knows

Listen to the music flowing like a breeze

Catch a feeling like the wind blowing through the trees


The sun shines on sand castles and bakes them into clay

The tide roars upon the beach and washes them away

Birds upon the wing stay so busy being free

If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me


For who am I to say the world ain’t right the way it is

And what makes me believe the good guys just can’t miss

Who died and left me in charge of making things alright

Why is it so hard to see such a blinding light?


So look into the picture, read between the lines

Listen with a passion as the wind blows through the pines

Know that love’s not easy and hope that it’s not blind

Let your soul be nourished by the beauty in the mind

Thoughts - December 20, 2009

Rest in peace, ye weary warriors
Let battle also rest
Put aside your sharpened sticks and stones
Return home to your nest

Till your soil and sow your seeds
Work . . . take time for your soul
By nature's hand your food shall grow
Take pride in growing old

Return home to the mountains
The rivers and the streams
Chase away your hatred
But hold on to your dreams

It's love that really matters
She came . . . but from where
Can anyone deny or tie
The energy that's there

Thank someone for the wonders
Like sunshine and new leaves
Like wind and rain and flowers
Butterflies and honey bees

Have you ever stopped to wonder why
When you sit down to relax
Master paintings hang in mansions
Master artists live in shacks

Trees stand out in the rain
Me . . . sitting in the swing
I love you all very much
To me . . . that's everything.

Published In Playgrounds Magazine, August 2005 - June 2, 2007


Will Johnny come marching home again? Maybe this spring, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. George W. (the W. is for warmonger) Bush, Dick (the dick is for the American people) Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld (the rum is for Donald) and of course, the “yes” girl, Congo Lisa Rice have a plan to bring our boys home; many of them in body bags and boxes. War is never a good thing and it is never for the people, there are always political implications and this war is no different than all the rest. The people always do the actual fighting and the dying while the politicians work their asses off trying to justify the blind, brain washed patriotism exhibited by the conquering forces. The war has been over for quite some time now yet more troops have died since the so called end of the war than died in the actual war. The Iraqis want their country back, so the newly elected officials of that country have told our leaders that they will be able to take control by next spring, hey, they were in control when we got there. By the time next spring comes there will have transpired many events that will postpone withdrawal of our young men and women and there they will remain, many of them strewn across the desert sands, their remains basking in the hot Iraqi sun waiting patiently to be shipped back to the good old U.S.A. to be laid to rest by their families and loved ones; quickly forgotten except maybe a black, marble wall will be erected somewhere in Washington, D.C. with their names emblazoned on it for all the good citizens with stupid yellow ribbons and American flags made in Taiwan on their vehicles to witness. What a fitting tribute to the great sacrifice they have made for their politicians, but alas, that is not their greatest sacrifice; their greatest sacrifice was to give up their free will and succumb to the whims of the politicians who sit behind mahogany desks and plan their demise, obeying every command; secure in the knowledge that God will guide them and protect them in the heat of battle. Now, how is this different from Islam? Is your God better than theirs? Why the hell don’t we let the Gods fight it out? Because there are no Gods involved in this war, only politicians who want to create a legacy. So, why don’t we let the politicians fight it out? Because they have a yellow streak running up their backs from anus to brain stem; George “Warmonger” Bush didn’t even have the testicles to do the things that he is asking our brave young men and women to do: to fight and if need be, die for their country.

So, now that the war is progressing so well, are we free from the threat of terrorism? Why hell no! Even as I write this article there are illegal aliens crossing borders all over the free world, forming cells, planning and scheming for their next attacks. “Give us your tired, your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” This is a religious war, as most wars are and there is no way to win short of genocide, there is no way to assimilate an entire religion that has been in existence for millennia.

Why are Americans not standing up and saying, enough of this ridiculous war? Because they are afraid, afraid that they will be considered unpatriotic, afraid that they will be branded as bleeding-heart liberals, afraid that the government’s power will single them out and censor them; take a lesson from the McCarthy area censorship of the Jews in the 1950’s. Listen people and listen well; this war is not even close to being over. What did it take to finally end the political conflict in Viet Nam? Did the government decide on it’s own that the war was taking too many American lives, did the logic and good sense of the politicians cause them to arise one morning and realize that the atrocities must cease? Of course not, they tired of fighting the American people in the streets and having to contend with demonstration after demonstration against the war: their political lives were at stake; for a career politician, that is all that matters. Oh yeah, where was George “Warmonger” Bush in that war, was he on a river boat with John Kerry or flying a fighter plane in support of the ground troops? No, but I’m sure he was busy doing really important stuff, you know, being the son of another, now well known successful politician and all.

What the hell has happened to the youth of America, don’t they know that they have an extremely powerful voice? Is everyone afraid to go against the status quo, where is the backbone of America? All the radio talking dummies are constantly alluding to the founding fathers pride in making this country great and the great sacrifices they chose to make in seeing that it all came to pass; all were rebels and dissidents forged together against a repressive government, the only difference now is that the repressive government is our own. Our government has passed several laws/acts which limit the freedoms of good Americans, reference the Patriot Act and the newly enacted Transportation Act; the latter of which came about because of the bombings in another country. But can we administer criminal profiling toward likely perpetrators of criminal or terrorist activities? No, we lump all citizens and non-citizens together however we can strip search Caucasian grandmothers in airports, and now bus terminals and subways yet we cannot do the same for people of foreign origin, lest we be accused of racial profiling. How long are we going to let this injustice continue? As for me, I’m sick of it and for those of you who say if I don’t like this country then leave it, I have a few words for you. I have already served my time in defense of my country, honorably and with all the dignity a young man can muster. We all have a responsibility, not to abandon our country when it is in peril but to do everything we can to change it more to our liking, to mold and shape this, our country, where American citizens enjoy the freedom and bounties of this great land not the interlopers who steal across our borders with visions of disrupting all the things that far too many Americans in the past have fought and died for. Yes, protect America but don’t kill off its greatest resource, the youth of America.

RSS feed