Hi y'all. I really appreciate this community's ability to dissect complex ideas and given the state of the world I thought maybe a conversation about our culture’s path could be interesting.
So, Where Are We Going?
I think we're all well aware that humanity is at a strange and precarious turning point in our collective journey. We seem to have arrived at the end of an epoch, of a specific way of Being in the World, and now we need to alter our path or risk destruction. Our previous path was one of exploration and domination, there was a world out there to venture into. Civilizations thrust themselves outward, expanding, conquering, and evolving rapidly. The story of linear progress made sense here, there was the opportunity for seemingly infinite growth.
But now, we’ve spread ourselves over the entire world. The myths that drove us for centuries don’t seem to be working anymore. In fact, they seem to be causing a lot of the problems we’re seeing arise in the world. Climate crisis, authoritarianism, social isolation and inequality; so many of the issues we face can be traced back to an imbalance in our relationship with others and with the world, and this imbalance stems from outdated worldviews. I think we need to speak a new story into being, we need to take control of the narrative we’re living our lives by, because the consequences of unexamined cultural perspectives seem to be a blind sprint towards a cliff.
Below I’m going to explore the direction I feel our culture to be shifting in, framing these concepts in dualistic poles as I think that will highlight the state we’re currently in as well as the direction we need to head towards if we want to return to humanity’s homeostasis.
Masculinity (Progress and Independence – Externally Driven) and Femininity (Conservation and Community – Inwardly Drawn)
It seems more and more apparent to me that a return to our relationship with feminine energy is part of what’s needed to heal our society. Part of the feminine archetype that I think is called for is that of the homemaker; rather than going off in the world and conquering new lands, we need to appreciate and take care of what we already have. We need to settle into this place that has supported us through our entire existence and remember that we belong here. This world is our home and its ok to rest and enjoy our being here. What use is striving if you never reach your destination? Our cultural progress doesn’t have to be a mad dash towards ever new horizons, part of growing is the rest you take after your journey. This is where you can integrate all that you’ve done and learned and reflect upon what’s valuable in life.
These ideas are mirrored in the archetypes of Hermes and Hestia. These gods were traditionally constellated together as their energies balance each other out. Hermes resides over technology, commerce, and movement. He is the spirit of the traveler and the inventor, of language and its use to create material things. He is very much the god of our times, with so much information moving around, and so much attachment to our goals and strivings. What we have lost in modern times is a connection with Hestia. She is the goddess of the hearth, of warmth and belonging. In Hestia, we find our own centers, we find that we can rest where we are and tend to what needs nurturing. Hestia is the grounding presence that’s needed if Hermes’ wanderings become manic and uncontrolled. And so her embrace is greatly needed in these unstable times.
Materialism (Deconstruction/Discernment) and Spirit (Interconnection/Relationship)
Another myth that I feel is coming to an end is the idea of a purely materialistic universe. The idea that this world can be broken down into its fundamental pieces and that from there we can understand what all this is. Materialism is certainly true on one plane of reality and has aided our understanding of the physical world greatly. The technologic and scientific knowledge we have amassed through viewing the world through an objective lens is truly astonishing and has created the context for the world we currently live in. But viewing life as if it were mere material is both shortsighted and problematic, the consequences of this belief allow for the destruction of the natural world and exploitation of its inhabitants. When we view the bounty of nature as resources for our own use, we strip the world of its needs and its voice. The world loses its subjective presence and becomes a dead backdrop for our own human activities rather than a living environment we are a part of. This world is not a collection of objects, it is a community of subjects.
I feel like most sciences are coming to this understanding, we’re finding that we can’t ever truly know anything in complete isolation for identity itself is relational, we are what we are only in relation to what we’re not. In the natural sciences, we can look at biomes and see how each creature fulfills a necessary role that allows for the whole environments flourishing. Each organism exists not just as an isolated entity, but as an interconnected force in constant relation to its environment. We are participants within the world, we are the world’s unfolding, we are verbs as well as nouns, waves as well as particles. Even physics has come to this understanding with ideas of quantum entanglement. You can’t remove the subject from its context because its context is what makes it it.
This brings me to the phenomenological perspective, to the illusory duality of subject and object that allows the phenomena of experience to happen. It is the experience of separation that allows for the creation of experience, there must be a you and a me for relationship to occur. Our language operates in this form as well, the subject finds itself only in relation to an external object and the object can only exist in the gaze of a subject. But in reality, it’s just experience, it’s simply a happening. Buddhists call this idea “Dialectical Monism”. Reality is ultimately a unified whole, but for experience to take place, a separation has to occur, there must be polarities for any quality or perception to take form. Light requires darkness, the inner requires the outer, the subject requires the object, these traits are in a state of interdependence for the other to make sense. Mathematically, this idea is 1-1=0. The absolute state of things is unified, but a dualistic trick of the mind allows for creation and relationship to occur. Now what this illusion of separation allows for is the possibility for union, for a coming together. God must split himself in two in order for the cosmic dance to unfold. And I guess I’m hoping that as a culture, we can start to come together once more. Even in our language, to heal means “to make whole”. I hope we can move out of this manic delusion that we are all isolated beings fending for ourselves and find communion with those around us, to find ourselves in our togetherness.
In this time of transformation, we must bear witness to the death of our old ways of being. Like the caterpillar, we must allow our previous form to dissolve so that the imago will come into being. We are moving into a period of great change, the old ways will not go easily, but as individuals and as community, we are empowered to move with this current and live out these new myths. This is not to disavow our past or dismiss all that we’ve learned from this experience. My thinking is that our path is like that of the prodigal son. We left home so that we could return and see it with new eyes, we were cast out of the garden so that in our return we could hold true understanding of our place within its sanctuary. Our story is of our great wandering and of our forgetting so that one day, we may come back home and remember who we are.
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