Mankind trying to go beyond what he knows and to pretend to understand and control god and the universe, praying for salvation rather than working earnestly toward it.
I believe in a number of limitations for humankind.
History shows me clearly that mankind is incapable of knowing, understanding, or describing God or gods (whether or not they actually exist) accurately. Our collective record so far is divisive, disruptive, and destructive to those outside the circle of those who pretend to be “in the know.” All attempts at describing God or gods so far have misled us into wars, disputes, and conflict both between and within dogmatic religions as well as between longstanding religious doctrines and well-proven scientific facts.
Whenever a person or group applies the labels “good” and “evil” to persons, places, or things, the effect is to curtail further understanding or insight and to avoid a clear and balanced view of things or people or ideas outside their group understanding. Again, history shows these terms to be consistently misused and misapplied and repeatedly misleading us into misadventures when a clearer and more balanced view might have worked toward more effective decisions. If there is a “good,” then it should be “good” for everyone in the long run, for the long-lasting health of our world and our solar system as an interdependent whole. I see no valid use of the word “evil,” and, as soon as it is used, understanding stops, things are unbalanced, and self-righteousness takes over.
Five hundred or so 12-step programs have, in the last century, clearly demonstrated for us that the same men and women who have an immense capacity for destructive, damaging, and anti-social behavior often have a similar capacity to kind, constructive, and helpful behavior; that the labels “evil” and “good” block seeing the other side or having empathy for a different point of view. They also show the value of empathy and understanding, amends (not just a “mea culpa” or “I’m sorry” but doing our best to right the wrongs we’ve contributed to), looking for our own culpability first, and serving others.
I believe in a balance between rights and obligations. The more rights or privileges one has, the more obligated one is to help others toward those same rights and privileges. This balance is most needed between groups of people such as nations, where the privileged nations must assume the burden of helping less fortunate nations – and I don’t mean sending them guns, ammunition, and land mines or threatening them with Weapons of Mass Destruction – and I don’t mean proselytizing them with our own religious views. The strategy of lifting up others was clearly effective after World War II, when the people of the United States befriended their former enemies, Germany and Japan, and all three prospered. It worked well in post-Apartheid South Africa as blacks included rather than excluding or oppressing their former oppressors. In the United States a century ago, men finally recognized the rights and privileges of women and both thrived.
This leads us to win-win solutions, which view “us” as everyone and everything, not just our congregation, our country, our race, or even our species.
Once our basic needs and our most pressing wants are met, it seems to me that we must pay forward that which the entire past has created for us and help sustain this abundance for our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and their progeny. To hoard this abundance seems obscene to me. We’ve already won the historical lottery in the United States, having a standard of living that, for the most part, exceeds that of anyone in the past. When does the drive for MORE exceed the bounds of decency and rationality? To have an entrenched wealthy class that does nothing for its wealth, hiring middlemen to do their work for them, and an impoverished class that has little hope or aspiration seems to demean both sides providing no path to dignity for the wealthy or the poor among us.
When a business we own stock in forecloses on a family that had the misfortune to get cancer while leaving second and third mansions idle for most of the year seems to me an injustice that not only robs the unfortunate of dignity, but robs the wealthy of humanity, whether they know it or not. And it enshrines a system much like the Middle Ages where parentage divided us into distinct and permanently separated classes.
To American jurists, ownership is sacrosanct, a right of the highest order, but I do not agree with this assessment and I believe history proves my opinion. Certainly, families and tribes rarely follow this aggrandizement of individual or group entitlement over collective need, collective unity and collective well being .
©David N. Dodson, January, 2019, Phoenix, AZ