In Memoriam: We Are All One, Like it or Not…



Spires In Thailand

“If you love your lifeyou will lose itIf you give it up in this worldyou will be given eternal life.”

–John 12:25

For some reason, that sentiment resonates with me, and many others, I think, that the rewards of this earthly existence are transient and ephemeral, and that there are bigger and better things to do here than getting and spending and counting our money. This is but a brief interlude, by any measure, and it’s a real shame to waste it in mindless murder—or even mindless multiplication. But we’re only human; that’s what we do. We possess. We accumulate. We go forth and multiply… all of which is fine, as long as we don’t get too attached to it, or even worse: ‘fall in love’ with it.

The events of Paris last week are a good example. Now that the dust has settled and some scores have been settled over the ownership of the land that was settled by our progenitors, it’s not hard to see the vicious circuitry to it all, the battle for one-up-man-ship that pervades all human interactions from the seminal act of sex to the terminal act of death, the jockeying for position and the positioning of jockeys for maximum exposure and maximum penetration. Pounds of flesh have been demanded as retribution and paid in kind over centuries, but nothing has really changed, has it?

I wish there were a political solution to all the world’s problems. That would be nice, but it’s not likely. Religion is the only hope for this planet, the only hope for this race, the human race, this blessed cursed species in the throes of self-destruction, this species that has done so much and still can’t accomplish the simplest of tasks—survival… and dignity… and justice… and equality. We wave our flag of democracy in everyone’s face as if it’s a red flag inciting the bull to riot, then step back every time to try to fool the beast. Religion is better than all that—but which one?

The West has been on top for so long that we’ve come to believe that this is the natural order of things—Democracy, Christianity and Capitalism—with our innate superiority never to be questioned, not seriously anyway, grudgingly allowing that Asia has earned its stripes by emulating our example successfully, but without threatening it. But the Islamic model is a real threat, because they simply won’t stoop to conquer, as Asia will. They’re too much like us.

China wins by absorbing her challengers, all previous major conquerors ‘becoming Chinese’ in the process, and ending up losing their original homeland to her in the process (okay, so Mongolia got lucky, thanks to Russia). The Western model for religion means Christianity, of course, but that doesn’t work for everybody—love love love and all that rap, sex and sex and sex and sex.

The others are just as incomplete by themselves, Islam demanding discipline and sacrifice above all else, at the expense of free thought, and Buddhism ducking for cover when times get rough, slow to act when ignoring the facts is easier. That’s why I prefer some creative combination of all, like the recipe for gunpowder, a combination of saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal, so I’m proposing spiritual gunpowder—Christianity, Islam, Buddhism—and more…

Then there’s the question of evil. Many people want to exult in the ‘fact’ that ISIS are the bad guys—and we’re not. That’s too simplistic for me. Many if not most people in the world consider the US to be the problem, not ISIS. They’re both right. ISIS have wives and kids just like most of us do; and they have a religion, with a vision of the world. What do they want? Why did they attack Paris? Listen to them. Okay, so their message is extreme and the enforcement is harsh, BUT… it’s not evil, not necessarily. They’re obviously disgusted by the modern Western-oriented world. They’re not the only ones.

In one sense all wars are of barbarians against civilization, heathens against the city, making fall what must fall sooner or later, by simple laws of entropy. No, I didn’t include any New Age fad religion in my mix. That’s not my orientation—catchy phrases and fancy pseudo-philosophical footwork. I especially take issue with the “eternal now” ‘carpe diem’ sloganeering so popular now, which seems to elevate the most basic pop-schlock Buddhism over a blushing heap of much better thought.

I might borrow the equally cliched riff “we are all one”, though. If the phrase “we are all one” has any meaning, then it means that we are every bit as much the bad guys as ISIS, maybe more. Unfortunately no one gets to vote on religions and pop culture, and sometimes there is a reversion to animal instinct. Persevere, and don’t be too judgmental. After all, they don’t make any issue of the brutal practice of male circumcision in the US, now, do they?  Think about it…