Random thought/dime-store epiphany:
It occurs to me that, above all else – economic, military, ideological, or other forms of control over a society; that the most effective means of controlling large groups of people is to manipulate their expectations for their lives.
If the state, religion, or a private entity, can convince enough people that 2.5 kids, home ownership, a white picket fence, and retirement in Florida, for example is “a life well-lived”; then people who hold this belief are effectively fenced within said white pickets. The same went for the founders of ancient Sparta, the Samurai, or the Viking thanes; they shaped the expectation of thousands of lives within a frame that dictated that glory was to be sought, and on the battlefield.
An old friend of mine is currently living in the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While keeping up with the goings-on in her life over there, I’ve gotten a clear sense that she’s growing progressively more frustrated with how things are done in a country run by a fundamentalist religion. I genuinely feel for her in that predicament.
Moral pantywaist apologists notwithstanding, I would hope most clear-headed people are aware of how culturally backwards things are in any country which allows itself to be governed by something as nebulous as faith, and ruled by something as archaic as a monarch.