New Civilization News: Man's search for meaning    
 Man's search for meaning5 comments
picture11 May 2002 @ 00:04, by Quidnovi

Sometimes as we are looking for words, it is the words that find us instead.

"THERE HAS TO BE MORE TO THE WORLD THAN THIS…"

Those words leapt at me out of NCN online journals as I was navigating the News Logs section today.

The author?

Hamlet?

Oedipus?

Subtle psychopaths or schizophrenic supermen?
(You know who you are ;-)

Names are not important.

Only questions remain.

Ah, why did the ghost of Elsinore appear so to Hamlet on that fatidic night in Denmark?

And what of Oedipus and the Sphinx?

"When the child was a child
It walked with its arms swinging
It wanted the stream to be a river,
the river a torrent,
and this puddle to be the sea.
(…)
When the child was a child
It was the time of these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
(…)
Does evil actually exist?
and are there people who are actually evil?
How can it be that I, who am I, didn't exist before I came to be,
And that, someday, the one who I am will no longer be the one I am?"
--- Wim Wenders/ Peter Handkle ("Wings of Desire")

So many questions, so many voices…

"I hear music and see men of the past and future.
I see wise men and poets and scholars and artists
Harmoniously building the hundred-gated cathedral of Mind."
---Hermann Hesse ("The Bead Game")

And what does the music say?

Is there more to the world than this?

Unbidden, the words leap to our lips---THERE IS!

"It is horrible to think that the world could one day be filled with nothing but those little cogs, little men clinging to little jobs and striving towards bigger one…men who need order and nothing but order…"---Max Weber

Is there more to the world than this?

Surreptitiously, the voice of doubt creeps in our minds---THERE ISN'T!

"Why have the masters written nothing? Jesus was a rabbi, Siddharta a prince. Both literate and famously well-spoken teachers wrote nothing.
Why?
Because they were spell-breakers, not spellbinders."
---A. A. Attanasio (The Serpent and the Grail)

Is there more to the world than this?

I won't lie to you---I DON'T KNOW!

"We are the unconscious, the middle of madness, sharpened like a tree by the turning world, turning pain into answers."---A. A. Attanasio (The Answerer of Dreams)

"What is the number of the worlds?
More than many.
What is the number of paths?
More than many. Yet they are one.
What is at the ends of the paths that are one?
Death or wisdom or both."
---Philip Jose Farmer ("Unreasoning Mask")

Tradition has it that two angels, Harut and Marut came down from heaven and taught humanity, magic and sorcery or the workings of the government. This always cracks me up as it makes it sound like they are one and same thing. Well, I guess that in a way, they are. Our world is a cultural construct and such things are just a matter of perspective. Think of Money as Mana ( Mana: "impersonal force which may be concentrated in objects or persons") and look no further than to the Media to find the modern Illusionists and Conjurers of our times, flimflam, smoke and silver-screen mirrors. The legend also tells of how Harut and Marut ultimately joined the ranks of the fallen angels, as they had no compassion for the children of Adam and Eve.

"Forsaken by our dreams, naked but for our stories, with only the stars for food, the four directions for shelter, and the spirit of all that we love our only companion, we live as warriors of a perilous order, champions of kindness, who battle for virtue in the ruthless war of survival."
----A. A. Attanasio

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon ALL member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

What a great momentous event that was in History!!!

A lot has happened since then, and, sadly too, a lot has failed to happen. Some of the reasons are clear and some among you have talked about them already. I am thinking here very specifically of a post I read about the Top Five Problems Facing our Species. I'll ask its author forgiveness for the liberty I am taking here as I quote/draw on the three first ones. (Please refer to Ming's post for the unadulterated quote, as I have slightly departed from the original source and do not wish his views to be misrepresented.)

Here are the Top Three first Problems as I see them:

1- The low emotional intelligence of the ruling elite of the world. Empathy, a prerequisite to understanding and social progress, is typically a quality all too commonly lacking amongst most people in power---it has to do with the dynamic of power and the kind of people power draws to itself.

2. The growing problem of the ever-present disinformation and/or information overload pervasive to our society. The impact of concentrated media ownership on our culture has become a serious concern.)

3. Humanity enslavement to that all too abstract entity (which no one truly comprehend---not even Greenspan), that we call "Economy". Flemming Funch speaks of "a global economic system owned and controlled by people who don't have everybody's best interests in mind."

As the world is entering a new millennium some of those problems are slowly rising to the forefront of humanity's awareness and with it the chilling realization that this situation is following a course that if left unchecked might just threaten the survival of the species as a whole.

There is a NEED, that all who listen can hear, and feel, and fear---for feared it should be if it goes unanswered or is answered by the wrong currents.

Humanity is WOUNDED---it has been so for quite a while already.

It is wounded in its HEART and in its SPIRIT. The collective Dream (dreams, small and big) that has kept its heart beating is dying. Mankind needs to believe that humanity has a future but young people readily admit they have no reason to live.

Inequities, violence, injustice have always been part of humanity's history; there is essentially nothing new to that. What has changed is that the very things upon which humanists were placing their hope of a better future haven't turned out to be the panacea they had envisioned, as those very same things have become---or are in the process of becoming---themselves new tools of oppression. We've seen it happen again and again, one of the biggest disappointments, maybe, being the failure of the Industrial Revolution, and
the failure of SCIENCE in shaping a new social ethic and a new world better to ALL.

GLOBALISATION which under the right circumstances could flourish to create a healthier, more synergetic, convivial world is in danger of becoming a totalitarian nightmare. Our current world is a direct descendent of Feudalism. Sure, here and there Democracies have surfaced. But the rules remain the same. They are more complex of course, but the game is the same. Economic Warlords have replaced the Feudal Warlords. And a certain balance has been maintained through their rivalries (free-competition is supposedly the motor of our economy). But what will happen when the warlords unite and "fix" the rules in their sharing of the World? Am I misconstruing what is happening? I hope so. I so sincerely hope so. But haven't you noticed, just to talk about what's the most obvious (there is so much more going on) the alarming rate at which the trend for mergers, and bigger and bigger mergers, has been increasing of late?

Some will say that none of those things are new (social injustice is endemic); humanity has lived with them and always will. They are wrong! Take a good look at the planet. Globalism and the age of Sciences are catapulting us into the future at a dizzying speed. Changes are happening faster and faster. What this means is that just as with a speeding automobile mistakes will become more and more difficult to correct and bound to have more and more catastrophic impacts. We cannot afford to make many more mistakes. We cannot afford to play feudal games. We cannot afford to have our nation led by egotistical, greedy, shortsighted men.

Why is their purpose evidently to terrify the public about criminals, and now terrorists, rather than to make them feel the terror of an environment that produces criminals and terrorists? Suicidal attacks are not an act of jealousy; they are an act of despair. While great emphasis has been put on the "terror" from "abroad" we must not forget the disturbing wave of gun rampages which afflicted some of our schools not so long ago, also such an act of despair (alienated children who had lost all faith and all hope in the future.) It is preposterous to think it is possible to just "order" people to think and cooperate (a common mistake among those who still believe despite all evidence to the contrary that punishment is an effective deterrent). Thoughtfulness and cooperation must come from humanity inner pulsing. It manifests at its best where there is a sense of JUSTICE and MEANING and PURPOSE (all of which our current society is severely lacking, and which was the death of the Soviet Union and will soon be ours too if we don't watch out).

What has fundamentally changed is that, even though few will voice it in that way, in the mind of many, we are playing an ENDGAME. We are playing an endgame and they see no light at the end of the tunnel. They see none of the utopian futures that Democracy and Science were supposed to bring about. And because they think (wrongly so) that WE HAVE ALREADY TRIED EVERYTHING AND FAILED, they are losing hope.

And who could blame them. They are, here at home and all over the world, looking at the Democracies, and foremost among them they are looking at OUR Democracy, the American Dream, the beacon of light of the free world, what they assume, rightly or wrongly to be the very best that modern civilization has to offer. And what do they see?

They see that the Dream is no more. Long gone is the time when people were crossing our borders because they wanted to be part of that dream and were "PROUD to be an American living in a GREAT Democracy." The reasons people are crossing our borders have just become the same reasons that cause people to cross borders to different countries all over the world. It has to do with WEALTH and STABILITY, and our nation is one of the wealthiest in the world and certainly the most powerful on the face of the earth.

Oh we are still the Land of the Free, but what of the DREAM? They see that the same old power structures are still the same at work behind our Democracy and the Democracies of the world. They see a regression of the middle class and of its influence in the control of our destinies and an ever-increasing gap between the extremely rich and the extremely poor. They see a world more and more urbanized. A world where for most the notion of
"home" has become just a word bereft of any of its original meaning as people discover themselves more and more without any of the real protection and security of a "home" in the true sense of the word, or a village or a land they can call truly "theirs." People (all of them) have found themselves reduced everywhere to the status of journeymen (alienated cog in a machine) unsure of the future, unsure of the security of their job, unsure of the meaningfulness of the social universe surrounding them and where abstract and inscrutable economic and monetary wars they hardly comprehend are being waged on what is no longer truly "their" land.

In its guts Humanity knows it is the sorcerer's apprentice. Mankind has created a system that it no longer controls (if it ever did), a gigantic economic spider web at the center of which rules a heartless and hungry god (the biblical Golden Calf), who requires to be fed incessantly ("consumerism"), as he is devouring the world and most of humanity with it.

And the world is growing colder and colder. What is one to think, for example, of a system that has come to accept unemployment (3% seems about right according to our economists) and poverty, as a necessary evil, the inescapable and necessary condition to the well-being of our economy? And what of consumerism? Modern Consumerism is destructive and absurd (and an obscenity in the face of the poverty of the world) but no one can stop it, for doing so would have incalculable consequences on our system and would cause the collapse of our economy. As a matter of fact, almost anything one could do to improve our world IS A THREAT to the stability of the Golden Calf to which the world has become enslaved (imagine for example the devastating consequences the sudden uncontrolled discovery of an efficient alternative source of energy would have on the oil industry and its many related industries).

The ideologies and philosophies are dead from which politics pretend to have originated.

Cynicism has taken their place, and resignation, and along with it, despair, have both been slowly settling in. People go on "playing the game," but their heart is not in it, and no one thinks any longer that TOMORROW will bring a better world.

This is how civilizations die.

There is a need, a SPIRITUAL VACUUM.

Because of the PULL they generate, spiritual vacuums are dangerous sources of great disturbances.

People need VISION, without which they perish. America was one such vision once before it became America.

Viktor Frankl, the founder of Logotherapy, is known for bringing the concept of "will-to-meaning" to the field of Psychology. His book, "Man's search for Meaning" was a story about a man who became a number who became a person. The story of our century is that of men and women who feel they have BECOME NUMBERS.

People need to know that there is more to life than that. They need to live for meanings. America needs men and women of vision, citizens of the future, who will revive the dream and tell us that, NO, THE WORLD IS NOT DEAD AND NAUSEATING. It is alive an unknowable and thoroughly invigorating.

If WE don't do it---if we can't find our heart, if we can't find our voice---others WILL. They will find and exploit that vacuum to further their own ends. They are the new Demagogues. They are speaking already. Look around you. Look at the world. Everywhere, the specter of the extreme-right is raising its head (Edmund Stoiber, Silvio Berlusconi, Jorg Haider, Jean-Marie Le Pen.) Beware the Zeitgeist of the times!

September 11 and the subsequent policy, or lack thereof, of powerful world leaders such as G. W. Bush and Ariel Sharon have awaken dangerous forces whose roots feed on some of the darkest currents of humanity's collective unconscious. Do you see the DANGER? We are talking about Political Messianism here (It is no accident that Bin Laden called for a "Jihad" and that Bush used the word "crusade"---that he retracted afterward.) Political Messianism is EXTREMELY VOLATILE and those who open such doors do so at their own risks. Every firefighter will warn you of the danger---they
call it BACKDRAFT. The problem, of course, is that it's humanity here, no less, that is standing on the path of the back draft. It could come under the form of World War III, or, WORSE, under the form of creeping Global Totalitarism, or something much akin to it---a death of the spirit---cold and quiet, slowly suffocating the World into its coils. Either one would be lethal to the future of humankind.

There is no point clamoring that we are united, if there is nothing we are united around. Where is the VISION? Where is the DREAM? Where are the FRAMERS of the NEW WORLD?

People want to know.

And they say: Speak not in the language of merchant to us. Our lands, our lives, our children's future, our souls, none of this is for sale!

They want to know WHAT IS THE WORLD WE ARE BUILDING FOR OUR CHILDREN.

When the rest of the world agrees that global warming and environmental degradation is threatening our very existence on earth and G.W.Bush refuses to sign or even discuss a treaty to deal with these problems, what kind of message are we sending to the world and to our youth here at home?

Humanity must awaken to the age of reason or it will perish.
This is more than an alarm it is a CRY!
We are running out of time!

FD


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5 comments

11 May 2002 @ 03:44 by istvan : Thank you for joining this network
Writings like these are the only indicators that perhaps some day there will be a new man, new civilisations, those who managed to shake off the rubbish of the clouded minds of the "little man".
A few jears ago i found a CD by a group called America is Slowly Dying.
I liked the title so moch that i made a battery operated clock out of it and hang it on my wall. At times i wached the hands of this clock, wondering, just how long will it take. As you mention this possibility is at hand right now.
I came to this country as a political refugee of a blody revolutin inspired by America for the promise of democracy, that all solving treasure that is worth dying for as 300 thausand of my countryman did. After 42 years the country is riddled with mc.donalds and kentucky fried chicken bones and total cultural disintgration, enslaved by phoney promises of a better life.
There is no America, there is no souch country. The United States was a promise, nothing else, an opportunity for the ambitious to enslave the meak legally.
You are right about the spiritual vacum does exist and getting more prevelant. It can create disasters or be the seed for a better life for all. The choice is ours, but we must search for the spirit of the underlying unity of What is to be human. The new age "we are all one" is a lie, but there is a spirit that is undivided in a maddening whirling of diversity. Thank you for searching for that.  



11 May 2002 @ 14:56 by b : bee says
Quidnovi, I too say Welcome to NCN. You have a great voice. Please don't give up on America. She is still the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. It has been said that the price of our freedom is eternal vigilence. The heart of Liberty still beats strong. Freedom is just that. It does not encompass anything.  


12 May 2002 @ 06:33 by dadak : I wouldn't add
much to what Zendancer says.
I didn't read tha wole thing about the link above, but it reminds me of Hobbes' theory, which i had to study last year at university. He is considered as one of the funder of modern cicil society. I felt his theory is bull... and thought all the time "I, or we, didn't sign the damn constitution thing this guy was talking about !". But I could not say so in my partial !

There is one thing, though, Francis, we have also to take in account : when we talk about the way modern societies are organized, it is not only a question of pointing to the leaders of the world (capitalist pigs, sorry for the violence, but that's what they are, because they make a mess of everything in their undiscriminate use of the world (environment - natural and cultural, nature and human) and the caracteristic of pigs is that they eat just anything) but also to each of us, unavoidably drawned to the market's goods, we the consumers, and that includes our family, our friends, our neighbours, our fellow human beings. Mc Donalds has power inasmuch as people consume their goods. So it is not unsolvable, first lesson, and it is not entirely a conspiracy, second lesson. All that remains is to bring about consciousness, true and i guess that is why we are here in ncn, but also to live by the standards our conciousness, that is conscentioulsy. This is the challenge.  



12 May 2002 @ 10:30 by quidnovi : Not all those who wander are lost
Bee Berez wrote:
"Please don't give up on America.
She is still the Land of the Free
and the Home of the Brave."
----------------------

I WON'T.
And SHE is!!!
Thank you for the heartwarming words bberez.
Keep the faith.

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken..."
--Verses from "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R.Tolkien

FD  



14 Jun 2002 @ 23:52 by alchemist : The need to see the positive and act
Thanks Francis for sharing your thoughts so honestly.

According to recent research in the US carried out by Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson, Americans can be roughly grouped into three types. Of these the 'Cultural Creatives', the alternatives/new thinkers, are characterised by their valuing of family, community, environment, feminism, diversity, personal growth and spiritual development.

Estimated at 26% of the adult American population (approximately 50 million people), their numbers are growing rapidly.

As these people become aware of each other's existence rather than feeling isolated and marginalised by existing power structures, I'm sure that they will have a strong impact.

They are also held back by the media tendency to focus on problems rather than solutions. In contrast, paradigm-shifting US magazines at the forefront of change such as Yes! have a strong positive bias.  



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