Sunday, April 24, 2016

What's Wrong With The United States Of America

This is not meant to be judgmental but reflective. If we wish to be a great country, then greatness requires reflection, discussion, and a genuine desire to bring out the best in all of us. Let us begin with honestly assessing where we are falling short. This then, is a short list of observations:

We are more concerned with packaging than content, care more for the flag than the ideals it is supposed to represent.

We care far more about winning an argument than actually being right.

We prefer giving advice to taking advice to heart, believe it is better to give than receive only when it comes to blame.

We have discovered that it is much easier to have opinions than search out the facts.

We have the wisdom of the ages available for free through the internet and prefer to watch reality TV shows or play on social media.

We have politicians but not leaders, money for giant televisions but not enough to care for the homeless. We have enough fuel for us to drive our SUVs to the gym so we can walk on a treadmill, but we are in short enough supply that we have to destroy natural habitats and start wars in order to get more.

We have climate controlled houses and cars and an out of control climate. We have stores that are kept at 80 degrees in the winter and 50 degrees in the summer.

We have clocks on all of our electronic devices but never enough time, too many boob jobs and ED pills and not enough reverence for the wisdom that can come with age.

We have more guns and locks and less security, too much information and not enough context.

We have too many liberals and conservatives and not enough concerned citizens.

We are too worried about our rights and freedoms and not worried enough about our responsibilities.

We have too many tools and not enough skills, too many distractions and not enough silent places.

We give too much regard to profit and not enough to work.

We spend too much on elite athletes and not enough on physical fitness for our children and elderly.

We give too much to executives and not enough to the people who have to clean their toilettes.

Too much on advanced weaponry and not enough to care for our veterans.
Too much reaction and not enough reflection.
Too much desire to punish and not enough desire to correct and instruct.
Too much consumption and not enough contentment.
Too many absolutes and not enough balance.

Please feel free to add your own thoughts.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Human Values Versus The Values Of Institutions

Our institutions have failed us. Our government does not represent us, our media lie to us, our corporations care only about their short term profits.

That is to be expected.

Institutions in time become their own entity. They begin to look out for the institution’s interests rather than the interests of the people they were created to help. It happens inevitably. And then the institution begins to tell those who are part of it that they should behave in ways different than a human would, that common sense and morality no longer apply within the confines of the institution. The commandment “Thou Shall Not Kill” does not apply to those in the military. The ethic of not evicting a widow from her home does not apply if you work in the banking industry, the idea of setting a good example for children is not in the interest of the entertainment industry, nor is justice a primary concern of the politician or the lawyer. Institutions have their own requirements and seek to bend humans to their will.

We humans have created human values over the millennia and when practiced they work quite well. They are the laws and values handed down by the great religious, by moral and spiritual leaders. But religions have warped such teachings in ways that promote their own well-being. They place the individual at their disposal rather than seeing their main function as being to serve the individuals. They place themselves between God and man, interpret the words of the prophets and set them down into rigid codes and laws rather than allowing humans to interact directly with them and have a direct communication with them.

Our political parties too place themselves in between individuals and the government they are supposed to control. We are no longer in control of choosing our fate but are instead played upon by one party or the other that insists on blaming the other for all that is bad in the nation. They both realize our instinctual fear of the big institutions, the conservatives playing upon our fear of big government, the liberals playing on our fear of big business. And each is right to a degree, but neither is interested in revealing the bigger picture. Few are the politicians from either party willing to admit that it is the parties and their donors whose interests are being served rather than the interests of the citizens.

Institutions create secrets. They hide away all the truths they do not wish you to see. Few of us are shown the factory farms and processing plants that treat animals the way no society would if they were more fully aware. If the greater populace were to see what life in prison was like we would transform them into places that helped cure prisoners rather than creating new diseases for them to suffer. The harm our system of doing business is doing to our environment is seldom shown on television, we see only what is done in our little part of the world, and then only when we step outside and away from our televisions.

If we give them the opportunity, our institutions will crush us individually. Individuals matter little to institutions, they are so much larger than us. But institutions cannot crush humanity, not if we commit to human values rather than conforming to the values of institutions. We don’t need religions to explain to us what “Thou shall not kill” means, nor “Love your neighbor as yourself”. We don’t need our government to tell us what country is our enemy, nor do we need corporations telling us what we need to have in order to be happy. We, human beings, must be masters of the machines we create, not their slaves. We must decide upon a morality that works independent of the needs of our institutions, that like to distort our most basic truths.

And the most basic human value is that we are all brothers and sisters, all members of the same family. Institutions are always seeking to make us forget that, to emphasize our differences rather than our shared beliefs and needs. Institutions create the lie of the “other”, the “not us”, the “them”.

Institutions create fear and doubt, and when we fear and doubt, we seek protection and safety. Institutions, after evoking our fears to begin with, offer us protection from what they have caused us to fear. They offer us a unity that we as humans are always striving for, but it is not the natural unity but a selective one. It is a partial unity at the expense of the greater unity, a promise that something is better than nothing. It is the kind of unity that requires an enemy, the kind that promises peace and security but only gives us war and a perpetual sense of fear and distrust.

Do not allow yourself to belong to any institution at the expense of your humanity. Do not put your country above the needs of the planet. Do not put the company you work for above your need to do what you feel is right. Do not place your religion above God, nor your political party above the nation it is supposed to represent. Institutions are useful and often necessary tools, but we must never let them become more than that. Instead, be a human. Trust yourself, be yourself. Trust your human qualities. Trust what you know and feel and believe in as well as the examples of those who have sacrificed to put humanity above the interests of institutions that would belittle both the individual and the entirety of humanity of which each of us are a part.

You are a human being and that is a beautiful thing. You are a part of humanity, and that is even more beautiful still.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Night Of Madness

Earlier today I wrote down ideas for a blog. It was an impassioned plea for human morals in a world that is too often dictated by the needs of our institutions. But I find tonight to be a night where madness speaks, and so I am sharing images I have acquired while researching my novel in progress. Perhaps a glimpse into what we can permit ourselves to become and do will sate our appetite for insanity so that we can go back to building a more rational world. I begin with the propaganda and work my way to the reality of war.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Shell Shock: Another Sample

A sample of today's writing from Shell Shock. To set the scene, Doug Slattery is in search of a missing soldier, and visits George Laderoutte in hopes of getting information:

At first it appeared that Doug was alone in the room. The sunlight lit the better part of the room, but made the areas untouched by it seem darker still by comparison. There was a chair on either side of a coach which faced the fireplace, which contained a fire, and in the chair that faced away from Doug, he could see a head above the chair’s backing.

Doug walked towards the coach before turning around and facing the figure in the chair. Fearing the worst, Doug was relieved to find the man in the chair did not appear too damaged, at least not noticeably so. There was a certain unevenness to his facial features, a certain tilt to the head that was somewhat disconcerting. His shoulders were covered by a blanket, so that Doug was unsure of what damage might have been hidden underneath.

“George Laderoutte?” Doug asked. Getting no response, he continued. “My name is Doug Slattery. Thank you for meeting with me,” he said, and reached out his hand to shake with the other. But no hand came from the blanket, the unbalanced stare not really telling Doug if the man had even heard or understood him.

Doug sat himself on the edge of the couch closest to the other, trying his best to appear comfortable and genuine. There was something about the appearance of the other that made Doug look away. He found his gaze instead focusing on the mantel above the fireplace, where family pictures were displayed. He saw one that must have been George, only slightly younger and lacking the glasses he now wore. Doug turned his gaze back to the man sitting in front of him, the shadows he was sitting in more pronounced due to the bright fire beside him. Still, the unexplained unevenness of his appearance made Doug’s gaze unable to maintain eye contact for long. He shifted his stare back and forth between the man and the picture of who he had been.
“I’d heard you were in the same battalion as Peter Rothary,” Doug talked, filling the silence the other was unwilling to break. “As you know, his is missing. Anything you could tell us of him would be much appreciated.”

“Peter,” said the other, the voice coming as if through a filter. While his face appeared undamaged, as he spoke the normal facial movements were lacking. He spoke from lips that barely parted, the words somehow formed from somewhere deeper inside him


“You wish to know what happened to Peter,” his voice sounding as though it were coming through a telephone. “There is only one way to know what happened to Peter, what happened to me. What happened to all of us.”

“And what might that be?” asked Doug quietly.

“To know what happened to Peter you must see through Peter’s eyes, experience what he and I and a generation of young men have experienced. You must live in the trenches, you must know war before you can hope to know what happens to the soldier.”

Doug remained quiet for a while, wondering about the best way to approach his next question. But George continued.

“You…you are not much older than I am. Why were you not sent to the trenches?”

“I am an American,” Doug began, knowing that wasn’t an answer. The U.S too, was now at war. But the other did not bother to question his response.

“I do not judge you.” He was perhaps younger than Doug and yet he spoke to him as if an old man to his grandson. “You are better off not knowing. You are better not looking too closely at the truth. You have your health, you have your illusions. Live the life humans are meant to live. Do not go searching for madness, for that is all you will find, madness and death.”

“I am only looking for the truth.”

“Madness and death are the truth,” he said, the words coming out of him as from a dusty tomb. “All else is a façade. We paint over the unpleasantness, it is only natural. Man is not meant to live with the truth, any more than any other animal. We are meant to go through the motions, perform all the duties encoded in our genes. But there are abysses that are never intended for human sight. And when those such as myself are forced to gaze into it, we are not permitted to speak of it.”

“And yet I ask you to. Whatever affect it might have on me is not your responsibility but my own.”

George shifted in his seat, a hand that had been hidden by the blanket now gathered it about him. “My position in the war for a time was as a censor, you know. It was my duty to scan all the correspondence written by the soldiers to their family, to make sure the truth did not make it back to people such as you, who could not have accepted it.”

Doug did not wish to deny the truth George had been forced to see, yet he could not accept the answers he had come to. “Perhaps the truth would have helped put an end to the war.”

“That is what I thought. I couldn’t live with myself anymore, could not live with the idea that I was keeping the truth covered. And so I gave up my position behind the lines and was sent instead to the front lines to fight.

“But I was wrong,” he continued. “The fragile façade was all that mattered, and it has been irreparably shattered. We see now what we are, killers unable to control the machines we have created. We were too smart to be content, and yet not smart enough to grasp what it was we sought.”

“So you say. I do not deny what you have seen, what you have experienced. And yet your perspective is altered by it the way any other person’s perspective is limited by their experience.”

“If you had such courage you would have been to the front and seen for yourself. Then you might have the right to question me, but you would not. No one I have ever talked to has come back unchanged.”

Doug had until that time avoided staring too directly at the other. There had been something about him that assaulted his sensibilities. And Doug wished to respect what George had been through. But he made sure now to stare him in the eye, as if to directly confront the dark vision that was truth to him. Doug had not lived through the war, but he had peered deeply into the darkness that was inside of humanity and had survived and perhaps even become stronger because of it. He would not accept the other’s answer, would not look away merely because he feared the answers.

“I do not willingly look into the darkness,” said Doug. “I look for the light, it is only natural to do so. But the light I search for now is somewhere amidst the darkness. You may deny that any such light can exist, but it is my choice to believe otherwise. Will you not help me in finding what it is I seek?”

George unwrapped the blanket from his shoulders and arose from his chair. Doug had been concerned that he had been wounded in the war, was pleased to see he still had his limbs and the use of them. He walked to the mantel place, his back towards Doug. He picked up the picture of himself that sat there, stared at it for a moment as if trying to remind of himself of who it was he once had been. Then he removed his glasses, set them on the mantel, and turned back towards Doug and the sunlight.

Doug did not immediately look at George, looking instead at the glasses sitting on the mantel. It was far more than the glasses that sat on the mantel, and at last Doug understood. They sat in front of the picture of the younger man who wore no glasses. When George had removed his glasses he removed with it a nose, an eye, and part of his cheek. Doug looked now at the man in front of him and saw something he could not understand. How could such damage be done to someone and still permit him to speak? Doug could not put the pieces of the puzzle together, could not see how such a thing could have been created from the remains of what once had been a human face. How could the war have taken it apart in such a fashion? What blueprint were the doctors who operated on him working from when they attempted to reassemble it?
Doug stared without regard or awareness, unable to make sense of what it was he saw. Where before he could not seem to stare directly at the former soldier, now he could not look away.

“You wish to look at the truth. Then let us put aside the lies that try to make the truth more appealing.” The voice still sounded as though it came from elsewhere, but Doug now understood why. How he was able to speak at all was not something Doug could understand. He could not perceive of anything that seemed to be a mouth. “Where is your light in the darkness? What do you see in me that speaks of some deeper truth that is worth scratching beneath the surface?”

“I’m sorry,” said Doug, finally able to avert his gaze.

“It is nothing. It is but the surface, and yet you would wish to look beneath. You would explore the darkness, but you will find nothing.”

“I do not do so lightly. I have questions that need answering. The evil that manifests itself on the battlefields does not end there.”

“I will tell you what I know, but it will do you no good. Sooner or later you will turn your eyes from the truth. I have seen it so often, from men far braver than you, men who were willing to go to war and face their fears. When the war became too great, they looked away, refused to see any further. Something inside them flickered out so that they would not have to deal with the truth.”

“I'll take my chances,” said Doug. “Do you know where Peter Rothary is?”

“He is among those whose mind could no longer endure the light, who live instead in the darkness.”

“What does that mean?”

“He has found himself a bunker inside of himself which provides safety. He has discovered a shelter from reality. The world calls it madness, but they know nothing of it. The doctors who try to heal men up only to return them to war are the mad ones.” 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cappy Talist And The Fruit Pickers

The beginning of yet another potential book:

Once upon a time there was a land without laws. And because there were no laws, there was no property, for how can one claim possession is nine-tenths of the law when there is no law? I won’t try to paint the picture as being rosy and perfect, but the situation was how God made it, rather than humans. And there was no doubt that people were both free and as equal as possible given the fact that nature gives to some more than to others.

But because there were no laws, there wasn’t even any law against making laws. Until one day somebody decided he didn’t like things as they were. You see, there was one person who decided that whatever benefits nature had endowed upon him, and let us charitably say that he was already above average, he realized that what he was able to achieve through his own efforts wasn’t enough to satisfy the needs of his ego. Whatever attributes nature had given him, it didn’t give him the ability to realize that he wasn’t the only person that mattered.

You see, this person decided he was better than the rest. And since he decided he was better than the rest, he figured he was in a position to make the laws. Of course, he didn’t call them laws, he called them rules. He decided to play a game and told everyone else how it was to be played. It was called the ownership game. Everybody would carve up the land, which previously belonged to everybody, and take a little piece for himself.

Now the happy people playing in a land with no real obligations, thought it might be a good idea to play a new game. Also, since there was one among them who had a certain fever, they may have contracted a little bit of it as well. So they all decided to play a game in which they would see who could build the biggest pile of stuff on the biggest piece of land.

Of course, since the first guy, we’ll call him Cappy Talist, made up the game, he was able to make the rules. He decided that since he was standing on a certain piece of ground, that that piece belonged to him. There were others that argued the point, but since it was he who suggested the game, he convinced the group to agree with his assertion. They were all interested in whatever amusement the game might provide and weren’t interested in quibbling over the details. After all, Cappy assured them that the game would be a most enjoyable and rewarding game for all.

The area that Cappy called his own happened to contain a rather lot of fruit trees, something nobody but Cappy had thought much about before agreeing to play the game. So it turned out that very quickly there were very many people who wanted a snack and had nothing available. Cappy was quite accommodating, however. He suggested that others could strike a deal with him. If they were willing to climb the trees and pick the fruit, Mr. Talist (as he insisted they call him) would give them a portion of the fruit.

Seeing no other option, they readily agreed to pick fruit, thinking it was a small thing to do in return for food. And so they climbed the tree, picked the fruit. Except that one of them, while scampering towards the tree to pick his fruit and so fill his belly, happened to trample upon a flower in Mr. Talist’s garden. The man, Manwell, apologized to Mr. Talist, although not with much conviction as the flower he trampled upon was a rose with many thorns and Manwell had no shoes. Nevertheless, Mr. Talist was quite upset that Manwell had deprived him of one of his great joys in life and demanded compensation.

Now none of the other players at this point blamed Manwell for this innocent blunder, but none of them were willing to risk the ire of Cappy. Already, several of the weaker members of the community, seeing where there fruit was, were quite willing to dance to the tune of Mr. Talist, thinking that while they had never amounted to much in the realm of nature, they might advance their lot by throwing their support behind the Fruit Master, as one of them, Ask Isser, called him. So Mr. Talist, by showing some slight advantage, now found himself much stronger than he started because he drew the support of Ask Isser and others like him.

Still, there was more than enough for everyone, so there was little to argue about. As a matter of fact, under the new way that society was arranged, there was more fruit available than ever before. Seeing that they now needed to work harder than ever before in order to gather fruit not only for themselves but for Mr. Talist and his cronies, those who picked the fruit devised improved methods for harvesting so that they were soon picking fruit more quickly with less effort. Mr. Talist, realizing he stood to gain by the increased productivity of the pickers, devised ways of his own to improve the productivity of the pickers. Of course, Mr. Talist had never been very good at picking fruit himself, which was one of the reasons he devised the game in the first place, so his suggestions weren’t always useful. In fact, most of them involved the pickers working harder, which Cappy urged on by what he called “motivational speeches”.

Also, Cappy Talist realized there were some among the pickers who envied Ask Isser and the others who did nothing but eat the fruits that they picked. Some of the pickers thought that they would very much like to be like Mr. Isser, and were willing to do whatever it took to curry the favor of Mr. Talist. These aspiring individuals Mr. Talist was fond of holding up as an example to the other pickers, and Toe Dee became the role model that Mr. Talist held up for the others. As the pickers spent their days in the coconut trees and date trees, the idle likes of Mr. Isser and his chums would stroll along, praising the efforts of Mr. Dee, so much so that the other pickers came to believe themselves that Mr. Dee was the epitome of what a good picker should be, despite the fact that he spent more time polishing apples than actually picking them.

So efficient was this society at harvesting fruit that Mr. Alist found he scarcely had room to walk on his own property due to all the piles of fruit that were all over. In fact, even though Mr. Alist and those who were part of his circle ate like shameless pigs, they could not put a dent in the piles of fruit that lay all over. They soon took to squeezing the juices from the fruits in order that they might not have to eat the lesser parts of the fruit and instead drink the best of what the fruit had to offer. Soon, the ground was filled with the squeezed lemons and limes and what have you, the better part of it going to waste and making the landscape uglier and more filled with vermin. And somehow they did not seem to realize that while they wasted fruit that was a gift from the gods, there were those among the pickers who did not seem to be getting enough. For not every season was bountiful, but Mr. Alist and those who were most useful to him continued to have more than they needed, more than they could ever eat., for even in the lean seasons they demanded their share, even though they could not possibly consume all that they took.

So efficient were his workers that Cappy had more of them than he needed. Now he could have simply told the bunch of them to stop working so hard, but that was not the kind of thinking that had gotten him to his successful station in life. And so instead he decided that he had too many workers and the solution to that would be to tell a few of them their effort was no longer required. The pickers felt that this went against the agreement they had initially struck, but many of the other workers were simply glad they still had the opportunity to pick fruit for Mr. Alist. All in all, it was still an okay deal. And it could be worse, it could be them who were told their labor was no longer needed. Such might be the situation if they protested too loudly.

Now those who still were actively picking took care of their brethren who were no longer permitted near the trees that were owned by Mr. Alist. Although they were working harder than ever before, they still understood that the ones who were no longer picking still needed to eat. And although they assumed Mr. Alist would throw a few bananas in the pot in order to make sure everyone had enough to eat, they soon learned that Mr. Alist had different ideas. It was not that he was indifferent to the plight of those who now had no access to the fruit of the island, it was a matter of philosophy that made him refuse to participate in the charity and sense of brotherhood that the others believed in. You see, Mr. Alist, believing himself to be the example of the ideal man, understood that those without labor should invent their own games should they wish to have a full belly. In short, they should be more like him. Mr. Alist was an idea man, on a mission to make the world a better place. Well, mostly he wanted more for himself, but somewhere in his own self-interest was a most noble and selfless philosophy.

Philosophy was a big word, bigger than any the simple fruit-picking islanders had heard before. And the way that Mr. Alist used it so freely and so confidently gave the pickers the impression that Mr. Alist had a wisdom that surpassed that of others. In fact, so wise did Mr. Alist appear that they could not even see what he was talking about. It must be beyond the minds of simple fruit-pickers, they thought. “That is what makes Mr. Alist such a great man”, said Toe Dee, Ask Isser, and others who approved of him. “He can see things that others do not.”

“For you see,” said Mr. Alist, “the system I have created is a wonderful system. It has created a wealth undreamed of before I came along.” And the pickers couldn’t help but agree that the amount of fruit being picked was now greater than before the time that Mr. Alist instituted his system. And yet they couldn’t help thinking that they had enough to eat before, and didn’t work so hard. And some part of them seemed to be nostalgic for the world as it was before progress became their standard rather than happiness. But of course, progress was so much easier to keep tabs on than happiness. One only had to look down from the trees in which they spent more and more of their time to see all the coconut shells to be able to verify their progress.
The amount of rotting fruit that now lay on the ground DID take away from the beauty that once existed on the island. Also, there were those individuals who were now no longer permitted to pick fruit who were worse off than before. But Mr. Alist was quite confident, and they were, after all, simple pickers. Who were they to argue with Cappy when he was so certain and so successful?

Now Mr. Alist, while not being overly intelligent, was nonetheless in possession of a good deal of shrewdness. He realized that by letting some of his fruit pickers go that he created a degree of uncertainty in the others. The result was that those who still worked worked harder still, afraid that they could be the next to lose their fruit-picking positions. Soon there was even more fruit piled upon the property of Mr. Alist than ever before.

This should have been a good thing, but in fact it made Mr. Alist’s problem even worse. He could only eat so much fruit. And he had far more fruit than he could eat in a lifetime. It was such a big problem that it began to affect his appetite, which made matters even worse. There was no way to consume all the fruit the pickers had given to him as his payment. He tried letting go of even more workers but was afraid that too many people with empty stomachs and idle hands might interrupt the game he had established. And while he now faced a problem, he had no desire to go back to the days when he actually had to work for his living. It wasn’t so much the work itself that he worried about: he had always been a bit of a shirker, and if the truth were known had never really earned his living. No, it was being the man who controlled things that appealed to him. He would never go back to being just one of the people again, not after tasting the power and the prestige he had acquired.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Deeper Understanding

Please bear with me a moment while I attempt to explain an idea that’s been evolving within me for a while. If you are charitable in your reading of what I now write, then perhaps you yourself might rephrase it with more understanding and insight than I am able to bring to the subject at the moment. It is after all, just the beginning of an idea, one which began before I came to it and shall continue far beyond anything I have to say.

What if humans have a higher means of relating to the outside world than the intellect, the way many other species do? After all, there is no species as intelligent as us, and yet many of them accomplish feats that we cannot begin to understand. Take birds, for example, that are able to migrate thousands of miles to return year after year to precisely the same winter grounds. Or fish, who return to spawn in the streams in which they were born. There are many species capable of doing amazing things without themselves being able to understand how it is they accomplish what they do.

More importantly, many species have a swarm intelligence, or hive mind. A colony of insects are capable of working together in such a way that is far beyond the will or thought process of any of the individual members of the group.

So what if humans have similar abilities, ones that our intellect would reject should it become aware of them? Because after all, the intellect and the conscious mind are very much biased towards the intellect and the conscious mind. Individual humans are very reluctant to believe that they act according to anything other than their conscious, well-reasoned thoughts. But that is vanity and we can all site examples of people who rationalize their behavior rather than attempting to understand it. Psychiatrists and advertising executives would be more than willing to tell us that human beings often behave according to more primitive and sub-conscious motivators than we like to think. But our egos do not let us admit to such behavior.

So if we were to have senses similar to ones that animals possess, it is most likely our intellect would deny them, just as it denies myriad pieces of evidence that suggest we do not always behave in our own best interest, that we are often not even aware of why we do what we do. That we develop justifications later for the actions we perform now.

Is it not likely then that not only are we capable of operating according to senses we are unaware of, but that we have been doing so all along? After all, it was little more than a hundred years or so that the idea of the subconscious has come into our language.

Of course, while the idea of the subconscious came into common knowledge at about that time, it began somewhat earlier as a new thought in one or two people’s heads. I don’t like thinking of an idea as belonging to anyone, as if one genius created it out of thin air. I prefer to think of an idea as gestating until it is grown enough to leave the womb and make its way into the mainstream. Such ideas are never the child of a single person but the result of a sort of collective conscious that suddenly starts to break out in different minds. Freud is most closely associated with the term subconscious, but he was not the only nor even the first to use the term.

So let us for a moment imagine a concept similar and perhaps even parallel to the subconscious. Let’s give it a name, the superconscious. There, it has now entered into human thought, perhaps for the first time, perhaps not. Let us just for a moment imagine it exists and it is this idea that has been responsible for such unexplainable phenomena as the Third Reich, market bubbles, and fashions. The concept of a superconscious can perhaps then explain what we find unexplainable otherwise. It is what we sometimes call the mob mentality, the hive mind, the herd instinct.

Maybe it doesn’t exist at all, but perhaps by using it as a place filler it serves as a function to explain the world we live in. If it helps us see more clearly, it really doesn’t matter at all if it exists or not. Just as x in math is used to represent a variable, let us use the idea of the superconscious to solve a problem that might be unsolvable without it. This is not to say it doesn’t exist, it’s just to say that it need not actually exist to be useful.

So, what if it exists? Might it not go a way towards explaining things the conscious mind has always had difficulty explaining? Might it not exist in religion, giving voice to feelings that science has never been able to assuage? Might it not exist in things we call intuition, insight, and revelation, things we cannot erase from common understanding and yet cannot explain through science or observable phenomena?

Prior to a couple of hundred or so years ago, we as a society were quite blinded by the idea of a God whose laws were not to be questioned. We did not probe such ideas as I describe then because we felt it sacrilege to do so. We had belief, but not enough to question. In short, we were ruled by a fear of God rather than a faith in him that would have allowed us to explore our spiritual selves and any connection we might have with a “superconsciousness”.

Once human beings started actively questioning reality and meaning without regard for a divinity who took care of us and who provided meaning, the idea of an abyss took hold in our collective imagination so that we feared to gaze beyond, worrying like ancient mariners worried that we would simply fall off the edge of the universe into the great void. Nietzsche said that when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you. A chilling thought. And he was not alone. Other thinkers of around his time expressed similar sentiments. As we explored the physical world, we began to truly appreciate how humanity was not the center of the universe. We began to see just how insignificant a part of the whole we are.

The scientific method of observing the universe required putting ourselves outside of the equation. Our inner yearnings, our desire to be part of the whole, did not fit into the mechanistic view of the outside world. But they do exist and we are part of the whole. We cannot deny that. We as human beings have spiritual desires. I won’t bother trying to define them, but it is time we starting exploring this aspect of our humanity that has been common to every culture and every people dating well back into prehistory. This is not to deny science, it is to admit that science does not, can never explain everything about our role in the universe. The intellect and the scientific method are immensely important tools, but a little humility regarding the limits of our intellects might be the greatest wisdom we can hope to achieve. After all, the intellect often misdiagnoses situations our sense of smell or taste might easily make clear to us. It doesn’t matter what the date on the gallon of milk says so much as what our senses relate. It is important to explore all aspects of who we are, not merely what our intellect relates to us. Spirituality, like our other senses, is unavoidably part of what we need in order to understand ourselves and the world we live in.

Perhaps for the first time in the history of humanity we are in a position to explore what spirituality can show us free from fear of offending God or our intellect. There is new territory to experience and map, facets of our being we have been fearful to delve into. It is not supernatural, just another aspect of our nature. As long as we cannot adequately explain the world we live in, as long as supposedly intelligent humans act contrary to their best interests, as long as we use technology to build ever-greater weapons of destruction, and as long as we destroy the planet that will be the only one the vast majority of us will ever know, it could prove suicidal to our species not to humbly seek to learn from it. But of course if you think we’re already on the right path…