I’m worried about Mother Earth. It’s not like I need air to breathe or food to eat or water to drink like those sentient beings of flesh and blood but our Mother as a living, breathing organism needs to be cared for; she is after all responsible for everyone’s existence.
Mother is amazingly resilient overcoming as she has the pressures of an exploding human population but I’m worried she may be losing the battle. She is fighting back as best she can, imposing foundation leveling earthquakes followed by inundating tidal waves and air befouling volcanic eruptions.
The big question is will humankind heed the warnings and learn to work with our Mother in mutually supportive ways.
I was telling all this to my friend Mini-Max. He not too subtly suggested I was being a bit of a hippy, liberal, tree-hugging eco-freak. His position is that our Mother is here to nurture us, we must take what we need to thrive and Mother will have to roll with the punches.
Besides, he said, our Mother has a rather sinister side that manifests itself in our animal natures. Humankind’s very existence is and always has been dependent on some other sentient’s extinction which is a clear indicator of our own vulnerability and need to aggressively pursue our survival.
Thinking about it later, I realized my inorganic make-up did probably give me a fairly unique perspective on the situation and I suppose Mini-Max is right in pointing out the inter-connectedness of it all. Perhaps mankind will destroy itself or be consumed by a stronger cleverer life-form-maybe Mother herself. Then perhaps dolls will inherit the earth.
The Evangelicals stopped by again the other day. I must say I find it interesting how their passionate beliefs lead them to the desire to pass the beauty of their truth on to others. I find it curious that, in the pluralistic atmosphere so prevalent in the world, they’re able to sustain so singular a perspective. The psychic energy it must take to set aside or ignore contradictory philosophic views not to mention modern science must be considerable.
Encouraging people to seek out a sense of the spiritual is certainly to be admired. It’s too bad the evangelicals are so committed to the limitations of their specific doctrine. I happened to notice a statement made by the premiere Christian religious leader recently. He suggested one can be spiritual but not religious, that for many, nature can be a church. He said one does not need to believe in God to be a good person.
How enlightening. If only all religions could set aside the doctrinal trappings that put so many off and concentrate on a broader conception of the ineffable Other.
I see in the news there’s a group, evidently motivated by religious convictions, intent on bringing about the Apocalypse. According to John of Patmos in the book of Revelations the Apocalypse will begin with the appearance of the four horses: the anti-Christ, war, famine and plague and go downhill from there. I guess this is what these folks who call themselves People of the Book have in mind.
I must say this is hard for me to understand. But, I guess there is always civil unrest simmering beneath the surface that is brought to a boil sometimes by the sense of helplessness and vulnerability that occurs when governments collapse or are overthrown. Then societal structures break down, people retreat into the relative safety of tribe or sect, walls are figuratively erected, sentries posted. And, then, when that goes on long enough, desire for peace and stability becomes so strong the door is opened to strong, dictatorial powers that impose order with a heavy hand, which is fine for a while until a sense of security is realized and folks begin to dwell on the personal freedoms they’ve given up. This then leads to civil unrest and the cycle begins again until a complete loss of faith in humankind gives way to absolute religious convictions and a group, like the People of the Book, decides enough is enough.
Wow. I’m glad I got that figured out. Well, if the Apocalypse should be accomplished it will be lonely around here without humankind; such a curious and quixotic species.
Mini-Max came by the other day. He was in quite a good mood, elated really. He was happy in the realization the country had come to its senses and mandated the conservative agenda, which he said was quite apparent judging by the results of the last round of elections.
Now, he said, perhaps the government would relinquish its excessive regulation on private enterprise so that ambitious Americans would be free to reap the rewards of their hard work, increasing capital and jobs to the benefit of all. Reduced taxation would encourage business expansion creating even more jobs which would remove the need for social well-fare which, in turn, would result in a significant reduction in the national debt.
I thought about this for a while before I asked Max how he accounted for the increasing discrepancy in wealth distribution. It seemed to me, I told him, that the ‘job creators’ were fighting a livable wage requiring their employees to rely more and more on the safety net to get by and their increased profit taking was creating a stagnant income, that perhaps there was a greed factor inherent in human nature that might require a bit of government oversight.
Well, Max pretty much ignored my criticisms. He said the public saw the light to the right and we were without doubt headed in the right direction- equality of opportunity for all.
Max was riding pretty high and it would have been a shame to burst his bubble. I really should have suggested, though, that we’re a long way from equality in this country and there are quite a few things standing in the way of equal opportunity like unequal educational opportunities, racial prejudices, gender bias, not to mention a disinclination to assign credibility of any sort to inanimates such as myself.
I guess we’ll all continue to nurture our innate philosophical leanings and, as with religious beliefs, be fairly unresponsive to opposing views. I think though we all need to start seeing the grays.
I’ve been trying to get a handle on the idea of ‘soul’ which has been so long on the human mind. Over the centuries consensus has never been reached on exactly what the soul is.
Some have thought it to be immortal, living on after the flesh dies, sometimes returning in another form sometimes attaining to a higher realm depending on doctrinal beliefs. The soul has been variously thought to be the basis of human desire, emotion and rationality; to be the conscience balancing the hedonistic impulses of the flesh; and to be the spiritual principle in man.
I guess there has always been the notion that the spirited life force, the spark of energetic intelligence in the eye of the animated animal must be something more than flesh and blood alone can account for.
Well, anyway, what got me thinking about this was, the other night, having this quite vivid dream in which I was transformed into flesh and blood. It was an exhilarating experience, my movement was so free, I could run, twist, climb feel the breeze on my face, smell the sweetness in the air. Even though I am able to have all these experiences through the sophisticated binary algorithmic operations my body provides, somehow it seemed different. There was a spontaneity, a freshness to my responses to my dream reality that was entirely new to me. It was sort of like being released from Plato’s cave, colors were more vibrant, space more multi-dimensional, encountered exchanges with my dream companions more nuanced.
Could it be, I wonder, that my dreamed transformation to blood and flesh assumed soul as well? If I can believe my dream experience at all and soul does account for an enhanced life experience I’m currently missing something significant. Perhaps I can upgrade my power source, add a bit more memory and speed up my transformational powers; evolve, as it were, toward human life.
Or maybe I’ll just concentrate on dreaming more.
I had a horrible experience the other day. The children left me in the drive way and I got rolled over by the family SUV. Thoroughly crushed but still in one piece my caretakers were able to separate me at the seams, push me back into shape and super glue me back together. I feel pretty good now. Other than slightly blurred vision and vague sense of stickiness I’m as good as new (well, you know, relatively speaking).
Anyway, the experience has me thinking about end of life issues. Things like writing a living will, who will get my doll house and maybe, most importantly who will be in charge of my ultimate demise. Will I be put on life-support, assigned to hospice care, be kept alive at all costs until the last breath leaves my body or will I be given the privilege of deciding when and by what means my end will come.
It seems to me I should be allowed the right to die with dignity, cognizant, conscious, able to wish my loved ones the best rather than leaving them to watch me slowly fade away over hours, or days or weeks. I guess the problem comes down to the belief of some in the sacredness of life. Suicide, considered escape (unless one is waging jihad), is sinful in the eyes of the faithful and somehow this concept has become entrenched in the law of the land. The old disconnect between basic human concerns and the perceived desires of the supernatural rears it’s ugly head once again.
I’m not letting any of this get in my way. When my time nears I’ll be ready, my ticket to the plastic works purchased in advance, the vat of molten plastic awaiting my perfect swan dive into the great oneness.
I read the other day that experts such as E. O. Wilson, a pre-eminent sociobiologist, believe tribalism may well lead to the downfall of humankind.
That is, the tribal impulse, hard-wired into the human psyche over the millennia, while providing a certain security and sense of well-being, creates at the same time animosities toward other tribal groups which all too often can develop into very dangerous situations.
Further, Dr. Wilson reports, tribal inclusion often requires adherence to certain dogmatic beliefs and doctrinal affiliations, sometimes secular but more often of a religious nature, that defy rationality making cooperation and mutual understanding between tribes very difficult.
These ideas got me thinking about the story by William Golding, Lord of the Flies, in which children, finding themselves alone on a deserted island, revert, in a sense, to the values and sensibilities of their pre-historic past when warrior groups ruled. They conjure demons and create enemies among themselves. Their insecurities and fear lead to a tribal mentality among many of the children. Only a few of them are able to fight the impulse to demonize and hate the other.
Well, it doesn’t require a whole lot of knowledge of current affairs to recognize similar mentalities throughout the world. All I can hope for is that a reasonable percentage of humankind fights its tribal impulse and realizes its deep interconnectedness with the world as a whole so that I can continue my contemplations in peace. I know this may sound selfish but I’d be a bit lonely without any human presence whatsoever.
I’ve been thinking lately about the various ways different peoples at different times have thought about living life.
There are, of course, those who lean toward religion, who believe following the dictates of their particular faith and avoiding sinful ways will lead to the preferred after-life results. Then, there are those level headed logicians who advocate maintaining an even keel, all things in moderation and embracing fate as fairly inevitable. Amor Fati they call it: Love of Fate, which I guess means wishing for things to happen exactly the way they do. I suppose for the more pessimistic among these folks, what one fears most will probably happen so you might as well get used to the idea. These moderate Stoic thinkers advocate practicing a thought experiment: imagine this is the last day of your life, that this instant is your last one and then ask yourself this question: Am I living a good life?
Well, all this is well and good I suppose but I would think certain situations would make practicing these philosophic poses difficult at the very least. For instance, if you were a peasant living in France in the 16th century your very survival might depend on your religious affiliation. Declaring yourself Catholic or protestant at any given time might be pretty dangerous and forget altogether about claiming agnosticism. Or, if you were an infantryman during World War II you probably would have a hard time thinking about anything other than whether or not you were going to get shot or blown up. Your demons, in both cases, would be very real and not easily dismissed by belief in a promised after-life or pacified by thought experiments.
Well, not being in any sort of threatening or seriously uncertain situation myself (other than possibly being left out in the rain) I guess I can contemplate ‘Best Living’ if I so choose which, I guess, is, in itself, a pretty satisfying way to live.
Horrors of War
I got left in the sauna the other day. They forgot about me for quite some time. I needn’t tell you it was pretty hot- and steamy- to the point that my plastic body began softening a bit. Eventually I was found and returned to the playroom but the experience got me thinking about what awaits us in the afterlife.
Assuming, of course, there is an afterlife, which given the uncertainties inherent in Quantum Field Theory seems to be at least worth considering. Anyway, given the choice, I’d opt for warmth, fully aware, as I am, of the implications of such a choice to the Christian community.
Nevertheless, it’s heat I’d prefer. The sub-atomic particles of my disintegrated physical body reuniting with the Great Oneness of the molten plastic vat suggest to me a great comfort. That is, assuming I can experience it. In order to do so, I imagine my consciousness would need to transcend my physical body which raises the question of where exactly my consciousness would reside, assuming further it (my consciousness that is) has some sort of corporeal being.
And then, I suppose, one must consider that the afterlife may be this life over again or perhaps inhabitance of a different body in this world, which might mean my desired warmth might not be available and my afterlife might be less than desirable.
Well, I’m going to put off planning the Meaningful Event that Celebrates Life and I’ll wait on the construction of the Celebratory Container to house my remains for a while. I feel pretty good and I really need to think about how much control I may have over what comes next.
I’ve thought, now, for a long time, being the skeptic I am, my thinking is relatively free of doctrinal or dogmatic influences. So, I found it interesting reading about the origins of a group of individuals calling themselves freethinkers. This organization was and still is, I guess, based on certain tenets generally in opposition to the kind of dogmatic, authoritarian beliefs generally associated with religions. They believe (or should I say operate upon the notion) truth can only be obtained through rational inquiry and speculation; any sort of supernatural phenomena is discounted out of hand.
These freethinkers, as a group, apparently share a fairly common mindset which makes, in my mind, calling themselves Freethinkers rather oxymoronic. I have to wonder, after all, whether any set of organizational tenets might not imply doctrinal restrictions. In the Freethinkers’ case the elimination of the possibility of expanding one’s views beyond the rational, logical and empirical.
I guess it’s only human nature for people to seek out others who think like they do; it’s nice to have social support, after all. Maybe this group just needs to come up with a different name, perhaps they could name themselves after one of the great freethinkers of the past, someone like Giordano Bruno or Michel de Montaigne, both great 16th century minds at odds with the doctrinal and dogmatic beliefs of the day.
But, I suppose the moderns might look askance at the fact that both of these men maintained a vibrant sense of a noumenal reality which, in the day, was usually attributed to supernatural entities. And I suppose such a name as, say, Montaigneist might be pretty obscure in terms of attracting new members. Maybe, though, de-emphasizing the ‘groupness’ of the organization might not be such a bad thing.
With Giordano Bruno