A common Christian notion is that God created man in his image. (Yes I know it could be “her”. I will use “him” in this piece simply in the interest of syntactical simplicity). In turn man depicts God in his image via representations of Christ the son. Aside from whether you are religious or not, lets consider some implications:
If we are all a reflection of what God looks like it means he is tall and short, fat and thin, and of multiple races. And how would he sound if he spoke? Would the voice be female and male? High and low? Not to mention which language would he speak? All languages (including all dialects) at once or one at a time? If he selects one at a time, what would influence his choice?
He may look like us but is he physically made up like us? Does he have arms, legs, breasts, a tummy, baby teeth, wisdom teeth and a beard? After all if he is in our image it implies all of us – men and women, adults and children – all simultaneously. If he doesn’t resemble us from head to toe then the statement that he is in our image is not true. Rather he is just a mirage of sorts that looks like us – but isn’t really.
To further complicate the scenario, Christians depict God in the human form of Christ. A Caucasian guy with dark hair, eyes and a beard. There are some variations of course, but inevitably at the very minimum he is male and bearded. So again we have a fallacy. If we look like God and he looks like us then a bearded guy negates probably close to 90% of the population and is therefore a false representation.
We haven’t even gone into all the other creatures on the planet. Why would only humans be created in God’s image? Are animals just an invention out of thin air? Does it mean their place in the world is less because they aren’t the “mirror image”?
It seems if we are really to believe that we all simultaneously look like God and he looks like us then it would be impossible to represent him in any image. Instead of praying to an image of Christ therefore, we should simply look in the mirror should we want to see a true, albeit fractional, representation of God.
Have you ever noticed that when looking at well known places around the world, everyone manages to take practically the same photo? Whether it is Uluru, the Eiffel Tower, St. Basil’s cathedral, Big Ben, the White House or innumerable other places around the globe, the perspective of tourist and professional photographers alike is practically 100% of the time absolutely the same – straight on.
So it could possibly mean that we as a species utilize an organ we all have in common but do not share as one in order to capture what we perceive to be the ideal representation of what is before us in complete harmony with one another. If we can achieve this visually, why can we not emulate this same notion in other aspects of our lives towards living in greater harmony with one another?
Or does our lack of varied perspective indicate a narrowness in our ability to tap into our own individuality instead of taking the well trodden path of the expected norm? Is it out of fear that we do not? Do we worry that by individualizing our perspective that we will be out of sync with the expected norm and thereby shatter the harmony that is perceived, albeit falsely, inherent in following the herd?
After all, only one person can climb a ladder at a time leaving all others behind. Not to mention the fact the struggle to be that one who gets to make the climb often involves all sorts of backstabbing nonsense. When one looks downward from the rungs of the ladder it isn’t a patiently waiting queue that one is likely to witness but rather corpses and chaos.
In practically every place I ever worked they always babbled on and on about being a team. Yet when opportunity arose, it wasn’t the elevator that we all took as a “team” to the top to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Rather it was a stampede towards the ladder where only a singular individual reaped what was sown by the team.
We were always encouraged to share with others in the playground as children, why does all that nurturing go out the window when we enter the work force? Are our childhood morals based on lies? What makes us discard over a decade of instilled goodness when we enter the workplace? Is the cheque the wand of some sort of evil wizard that turns all the princes and princesses into self serving demons?
If it is little more than a stroke of a pen on a cheque to completely change your entire moral compass that has been decades in the making, then why is it not just as simple to reverse it back to the course of compassion that was intended to be the cornerstone of your character to begin with?
Replacing ladders with elevators means you alleviate the fear of falling, the guilt of leaving others behind and you’ll never be “lonely at the top.” In this era of advanced technology and unparalleled sophistication isn’t it time to advance our concept of success beyond medieval thinking and at least try to make even a tiny office in an anonymous corner of the planet a better place?
I’ve been reading a fair bit about the Evenki – an indigenous group of northern Russia. They were originally a hunter-gatherer nomadic tribe that despite their integration into modern society still maintain (at least in spirit) their nomadic ways. A hallmark of their society is their egalitarian independence. Rather like snowflakes – we’re all of the same species and have similar form and function, yet no two are exactly alike.
Amongst the Evenki no one ever dictates orders to anyone else because the notion of hierarchy simply doesn’t exist. Through the natural course of events, the skills required on any particular occasion are met by those who possess them, whilst those who do not discreetly step aside to be utilized on another day and in a different way – not feeling slighted in the least. After all the sun doesn’t shine everyday but on the days it does everyone sees what a difference it makes.
For those too young to have a firm sense of their talents as of yet, encouragement to action is set through example as well (watch me do it and you’ll soon emulate my actions and see whether or not you too possess this skill or something even better.) It’s a constant checks and balances act that serves to maintain an equilibrium amongst everyone. Everyone has the opportunity to be the hero of their own story rather than following a map someone else printed.
Not to say that it is a total Shangri-La. Restrictions on hunting mean the prey of choice these days is often alcohol. Whilst they maintain that inebriation gives them a sense of independence from their surroundings – thus maintaining their ability to both be a part of and independent of conventional society via their own hand – obviously there is a very real downside to their choice of vehicle by which to get there.
That being said, there are some interesting points to be made from their sense of independence. Instinct often helps even the seemingly most feeble survive storms. It shouldn’t take a storm however to make us realize that if we believe in ourselves, we too are completely capable of making our way through the forest with anyone telling us how to. Our feet traverse our own chosen path – they aren’t pre-programmed or subject to being overtaken by forces other than our own free will . No one following us can match step for step our path through life and why should they want to? After all our main concern in the forest is not finding the paths of others but utilizing our own intuition to find sustenance for our bodies and our souls in order to maximize the potential that is uniquely ours.
I don’t think at any other time in history has there been more falsehood not only accepted, but preferred as “the norm” in everyday life than there is now. We log on to our computers and surf through innumerable sites under a wide assortment of names – rarely if ever our own. It goes without saying reality shows are not real. Photos are rarely unaltered. Maps are redrawn before wars are even fought let alone won. Elections are decided before anyone goes to a poll in a vast majority of the world. News reports are broadcast before verified – as a rule and not as an exception. Artists of all sorts are rarely acknowledged as their work is copied and pasted at random through thousands and thousands of sites with some claiming it as their own and most not caring whose it is. If that weren’t enough, now with the advent of 3D printers people are now creating sculptures of themselves as superheroes, busts of themselves as emperors and the like.
It is sad that no one seems to take pride in simply being themselves anymore. Everyday is a masquerade to not just create an illusion for the benefit of others, but now we wish to delude even ourselves. Reinventing ourselves beyond a merely creative impulse to the extent that we no longer wish to just enhance reality, but crush it in its entirety. Mirrors will soon be obsolete, reality itself an unnecessary relic of the past.
Can you imagine how challenging it will be to be an archaeologist several centuries from now?
Someone asked me the other day, “how many people like you?” With a bemused smile I answered, “I have no idea, I don’t typically ask people post conversation whether the experience was as satisfying for them as it was for me.”
As I run quite a few internet sites I am frequently bombarded with messages such as, “follow our site and we will follow yours.” At first I fell for the ruse only to discover that 1) I was rarely interested in their sites and felt like a hypocrite to say I liked something that in essence I could have cared less about and 2) although they claim to “follow” me I never actually heard from them – due most likely to the fact that they never visited my site aside from the ten seconds it took them to “like” it or “follow” it in the first place.
I don’t feel compelled to “follow” or “like” people in general so why would I present a false front whilst online? I have no idea how many followers and such I have and I couldn’t care less. I want people to visit my sites because they wish to out of independent will and not a false sense of obligation because the rest of the herd is headed in that general direction.
If I am truly inspired by something someone has said I acknowledge their efforts not in copying and pasting but in using the inspiration as a catalyst to not simply emulate their ideas but expand upon them and thereby surpass the foundation they have laid – giving them full credit for turning on the light in the first place of course. Even if I don’t succeed, there is satisfaction in the attempt in and of itself.
Typically when one thinks of the phrase, “living in the shadows” images of lawless fugitives come to mind. However there are two other connotations on a similar theme that I think are often overlooked.
First are those who choose to retreat from society, often by way of trials in life that they can no longer endure. I suppose many might refer to it as retracting into your inner self but that isn’t entirely true because in this case it is not a state of reflection to enhance character and eventual return to society that is desired, but rather a capacity to live outside of ones reality – an escapism if you will- for an extended, if not permanent period of time. The shadow being a two dimensional representation of self implies a diminishment of presence and therefore a lowering of expectations from society as a whole. In a sense it can be more or less likened to an infantile state of being. You are present yet not held accountable for actions and in fact not called upon in the slightest to assert any notion whatsoever that would colour you as an individual separate and distinct from all around you.
Secondly there are those who never develop beyond a two dimensional presence in society throughout their entire lives. For the most part these are those who largely ignore all attempts at education or sociological personal development including but certainly not limited to interaction with the greater world. They are lives largely unlived, potentials untapped, static forms unshaped by experience, giants who might have been. Some are complacent of having consciously thwarted opportunity whilst others are simply embittered by what they perceive as societal persecution rather than a failed individual initiative.
Something to consider as you note either your shadow or your potential self as you sit in the garden during these last days of sunshine before winter is upon us.
There are countless people who are drawn to ruins. There are those who sketch them and photograph them. Others want to dig around and find a memento of long ago. Whether it be a long lost piece of jewelry, a note, a weapon – they gather them up like holy relics. It’s the pastime of “cultured people”. For the most part it’s a jolly clean business too. You can wear a linen white suit or dress and positively wax poetic over the scenery – not to mention the possibility of coming home with a trinket or two.
Yet these same “cultured people” ignore the ruins being created in the here and now – many in their own backyards. Within easy reach of practically every population centre on the planet there are people struggling to survive in dilapidated housing that is crumbling around them. Whether from unemployment and hunger, urban crime or outright warfare sadly you don’t have to look far to find a ruin.
Rest assured it is happening on an unprecedented scale. One can only think that in the centuries to come it will no longer be a fanciful hobby of “cultured people” to stroll about ruins – it won’t be a novelty anymore because it will be so horrifyingly commonplace to encounter the ashes of destruction.
There are a frightening number of people in society that measure the worth of a woman in large part by whether or not she has produced offspring. Whilst it is perfectly lovely to extend the life of one’s gene pool, I think it is actually a fairly minimal contribution to society at large.
After all it takes no great effort to produce said offspring. There is no grand intellectual effort invoked in either its production or expulsion from incubation. Many sadly leave the finished products of production just lying about here and there across the planet with little to no effort to mold them properly and thereby provide the incentive and means from which the being can break through the chrysalis into adulthood. Without such manifestation of energy and intent most of the souls wandering around us in our daily lives are in an infantile state emotionally or intellectually (or both) well past their supposed childhood years.
Lets face it, in its essence reproduction is simply a desire to be cloned beyond ones mortality. It really isn’t an act of charity to the world, it is an act of sheer narcissism for most. Yet, physical state isn’t the only means and probably not even the most meaningful way of doing this. Providing those around you with intellectual inspiration or simply with selfless kindness which inspires them in turn to transcend their mediocrity can not only change their lives but society as a whole depending just how far beyond the pale they choose to soar.
The beautiful thing about this sense of reproduction also is that it has no expiration date. After about 40 you’re pretty well washed up in terms of the physical ability to have children. Your ability to release a genius and/or a saint from hibernation is ongoing. Whether someone is 90 or 9 the potential for enlightenment that will in turn last for generations to come is well within the realms of possibility. Not only that, you can do it countless times during the course of even a single day making your ability to populate the world with your “offspring” incomparable to the arduous 9 months it takes on average to produce a single “clone” which will in turn take years and may possibility never yield the full potential of its promise.