The Test for Happiness
What is happiness? If we asked ten people that question, we could well end up with ten different answers. If happiness means so many different things to different people, how can there be a test for it? I believe there is, but for the reader to understand why I believe that, there are a number of things that need to be discussed. So please bear with me.
A Friend Questions My Views
Chet: I read your piece about de-institutionalizing society. It makes sense in a simplistic way, but isn’t the reason humans created social, religious and political institutions that they were in a field of chaos? While it is possible for an individual to ‘drop out’ and live without institutions, for a society of thousands or millions the world then becomes anarchic, with people forming into small groups of power similar to the world created in ‘Lord of the Flies’ or by power brokers and lobbyists in our USA political system today.
Anyway, I enjoy your articles and books and hope you keep me on your reading list. You bring up some excellent ideas. In the latest tract your analysis of what Jesus was attempting to do is very close to what I learned when I was a theology student. His time on earth was not to support organized religious or political institutions, but to challenge people to appreciate what God has given them. This is done by a personal connection to God. I think you are correct in that presentation. Pope Francis has certainly shown that he understands this; let’s hope he can serve and live long enough to make changes happen
Your friend, Bill
A friend of mine sent me the above message, in response to my essay, “Pope Francis and Jesus.” Because his views are well presented, and represent how many others feel, I address the issues he brought up, in hopes of clarifying my views.
Your Idea of De-institutionalizing Human Life makes Sense, but isn’t it Simplistic?
I understand why the idea of renouncing the institutions that make our lives functional can seem like far too simplistic a solution to the problems that beset modern man. To most, it probably seems like no solution at all.
But, perspective is everything, when trying to solve problems. As modern humans, we are highly civilized. We grew up in an environment totally defined by institutions. How could we possibly imagine a world without them? Our institutions have so isolated us from the natural world that we feel threatened by the very idea of institutions not being in control. We see our institutionalized world as superior, so much so that we believe we are fundamentally different from the humans who once inhabited the natural world, and the animals that, unlike us, have never abandoned that world.
The complex realm of institutions that comprise civilization has us living in a world very much like a terrarium: It’s an almost closed system, in which everything is controlled by man, even the parks and nature preserves with which we pay homage to what has been lost. It’s taken thousands of years for us to get where we are. The day the first social contract necessitated the first institution, we began to separate from Nature. Now, we find ourselves at the point where Nature seems totally foreign to us.
And I mean that in the global sense, for it is not just the wilderness that we find foreign, but our own natural instincts—the core of our emotional makeup which evolution gave us, and to which institutional life represents a total aberration. Biologically, we remain wholly defined as natural beings—animals, really—whose wellbeing and happiness are still tied to the kind of lifestyle that our primitive ancestors once led. This is not a small point I’m making. I’m saying that the institutional life we lead is anathema to the essence of our nature as human beings. But we’re so steeped in institutional life that we don’t know this—could never perceive it, from our position within the “matrix,” as it were. We are like fishes making do in a bottle of water! It’s not that it isn’t water. It’s just that it’s artificial and inadequate—entirely inappropriate to a fish’s needs.
Another significant point about our institutional world, is that every bit of it is manmade. It would not exist in Nature. When I say “unnatural,” a picture of skyscrapers or space stations might come to mind. That’s part of it, but it is artificial at the core, too. Institutions, themselves are human inventions. They are abstract constructs that exist only in the mind or on paper, or in the actions and behaviors taken—or avoided—by modern humans whose lives are defined by rules and laws. The word “institutions” takes in government, but it also includes things like marriage and formal education, both of which define what society intends people, and the relationships between man and woman, to be.
The fact that we’ve become so accustomed to this artificial life does not for one moment mean less insult to our bodies or our souls. We suffer from our manmade lives. Our manmade troubles have us running to bookstores for the latest self-help books, which purport to teach us how to live in the moment. And that’s the ultimate joke, because living in the moment is exactly what our primitive ancestors did, without having to think about it. Or perhaps I should say, they didn’t even know they were doing that. They simply knew that they were happy. Life, for them, was a joyful thing lived in intimacy with others and the earth that sustained them. It was life as it was meant to be, where reality, itself was the source of joy. Whether they were sitting on a rock enjoying the sun, or fighting for their lives against invaders, it was the same joy. In other words, to not embrace every moment fully, whatever its nature, is to function eternally under a cloud of anxiety.
Was all that simplistic? Therein lies the most massive insult to our natural make-up. For Nature and its processes are not simple things. They only seem simple, because everything in Nature appears to happen automatically. Human behavior is a quintessential example of that. Our massive human brains—the drivers of all human behavior—are the product of millions of years of evolution. They evolved for a specific purpose—to enable each of us to freely participate in creating the order required for our species to flourish. But we moderns are oblivious to the myriad functions going on in our brains. Instead, we take comfort in the flawed idea that the order institutions create, through which we serve personal needs, is how Nature, or God, if you will, intended life to be.
So, we live as subjects of this artificial order, for which there is no consensus. For example, look no further than our dysfunctional Congress. The fact that Congress is dysfunctional makes it evident that there is no consensus in that body, the very body that, in our artificial world, is responsible for order. They are totally divided. We think that if some issue wins by one vote that we’ve solved a problem. But no problem in the natural world is ever solved by voting. Problems are solved by the natural flow of events. If one half of a natural family strongly felt one way, and the other half the other, then they would go their separate ways, as they should. Compare that to modern humans, bound by laws in our dysfunctional situations, private and public. There is no way Congress can break up. All these people who despise each other because they can’t agree on anything, have got to stay together. It’s mindless.
None of our national discourse—none of it—involves intimacy, the most essential ingredient in a sustainable way of life. If you are not emotionally acquainted with the people on whom you are depending to survive, then you have no clue what you are doing. Cooperating with others for mutual survival is a natural and hugely complex process that cannot exist without intimacy. But our national discourse has nothing to do with sustaining life. So why should it be concerned with intimacy? It’s all about material needs—instituting laws to create a level field for the pursuit of wealth and privilege. Any institutionalized system is all about material needs. In our materialistic world there’s no way to fulfill our spiritual needs through intimacy, because intimacy doesn’t exist. That is why we create Gods and religions, hopes and dreams: Unable to satisfy our spiritual needs, naturally, by taking care of one another, we are reduced to trying to satisfy them in our imaginations.
Bill feels that I am being simplistic, and I understand that. But, in my view, living with institutions is what’s simplistic. These laws, even though there are thousands of them, are nothing, compared to the billions of neurons in a single human brain. Brains know what they are doing. Laws don’t. Laws institute dysfunctional families, for instance. The brain will never create a dysfunctional family. Whatever errors Nature commits will not destroy life. But dysfunctional families destroy life, because they are incapable of sustaining the life of our species. That is what acceptance and rejection are all about: Our massive brains know when to accept or reject, in order to protect life. They perceive, and they know, and they inspire us to accept or reject, accordingly. So a natural human being will love, according to natural inclinations, while our simplified laws mandate blanket decisionmaking. They make it so we are supposed to love everyone! That is mindless, because, if you are going to have a functional family, you have to have a group whose members spiritually fit. Our instincts know what fits and what doesn’t. Our brains would never have anyone around who didn’t fit. When a person doesn’t fit, it could mean that he or she is not socially acceptable to anyone. Or, if the person is socially acceptable, he just doesn’t fit, here; he needs to find a family where he does fit.
The idea that in the natural world we would reject people may seem strange to the institutionalized mind. But think about it. If people didn’t have the sense to accept or reject an individual, based on that person’s ability to please others, then the trait of social acceptability wouldn’t exist. This social connection is just as true of dogs, who would have no desire to please their masters, if dogs had not been accepted or rejected, based on that trait for generations.
To understand the real complexity of Nature, just imagine having to program what our brains know. You obviously can’t program a brain. It would have to be a robot! But that’s what laws are trying to do. Laws are trying to replace what our brains know about species survival, when laws don’t even recognize that species survival is life’s objective. You can make a law against murder. Sounds simple. But, then, you have to write a thousand amendments to that law, to specify what constitutes murder and doesn’t. And you will never come up with an answer all can agree on. If you are not free to react in a normal way to what’s going on around you—even if that means killing, or sacrificing your own life for others—then, you’re not participating in anything. Nothing is going on that has anything to do with our species’ survival.
What happens naturally is this—and, yes, it IS exceedingly complex: Put us in any situation, and our brain is evaluating that situation from hundreds of different perspectives. All of this happens without conscious awareness. For instance, the brain is constantly evaluating the temperature, checking whether we are cold or warm. If the temperature is okay, we don’t know the brain is evaluating it, because it doesn’t produce any feeling that tells us about it. There are always countless things going on that the brain is evaluating, but we’re unaware of it, because 99% of it is okay. The brain knows you don’t have to do anything about it, so it expresses no feelings. Only when we do have a feeling, such as hunger or anger, acceptance, rejection, romance, etc., does the brain tell us to act on it. And that act is automatic: It requires no rational thought whatever, for us to register the fact that we are in danger of freezing to death in the cold. Modern minds will differ, because we are so invested in the belief that our rational minds are in control. But, in truth, the rational part of our mind that we are so certain is in control is too finite to take care of the endless details of living that our subconscious mind constantly monitors, on background, and to which it reacts, by producing feelings that inspire the appropriate response, as needed.
One of the crucial things to understand about life is that our brains have been programmed, by Nature, to manage the unimaginable complexity of life, for the sake of the only objective of life, which is species survival. Humanity doesn’t seem to recognize any of this—either that the brain has a built-in program, or that species survival is the objective, or how complex, how unimaginable, that process is. But it is because the functions of natural life are so very complex that our subconscious minds must continually evaluate our circumstances, always looking for an answer to the question, “How can I best serve life?” Indeed, the reason our brain continually evaluates the temperature is that we can’t participate in our species’ success, if our brain allows us to freeze to death. If we modern humans can see and understand all that, we can also see how absurd it is to create laws to govern our behavior, and then to say that our survival is dependent, not on our Nature-given program, but on obeying manmade laws. And now we understand why the brain is comprised of almost 100 billion neurons.
We have this admittedly complex system of laws, all based on protecting human rights, an issue that is unrelated to, and outright defies, our species’ natural ability to succeed.
Life is a gift. It comes with needs, not rights. So, the issue over which those legislators despise one another, doesn’t even exist in the natural world. In Nature, there are no rights, no giraffes claiming the rights to massive tracts of land, no baby elephants born with silver spoons in their mouths.
In Nature, nothing is guaranteed. In institutional life, we fool ourselves by believing anything can be guaranteed. The truth is that life is a series of snapshots. Moments. We never know when we will reach the final one, and we are not here to know that. We are here to experience each moment fully. When living in the moment, all we need is the moment. And if we are not free to live in the moment, then the only place where we can possibly satisfy our feelings is in the future. The future, then, becomes the only thing that is important to us. This explains our congressmen’s sincere, but misguided, struggle over an issue that, in reality, doesn’t exist—human rights.
About complexity, a question needs to be asked. Are the few thousand words of a constitution sufficient to order and organize all areas of human life, among millions of people? Does the mere fact of birth into a royal family qualify a person for absolute hegemony over a people? To answer, imagine a “scale of justice,” if you will. On one side are the few thousand words that are the foundation for all the laws of a land, or the brain of the firstborn of a deceased king. On the other side are the brains of every inhabitant in the land. To me, trusting this remarkably complex process to mere written words, or to the brain of a firstborn son, is what’s simplistic. But that is the mindless simplicity to which all humans have innocently, but willfully, subjugated ourselves, for thousands of years.
Didn’t Humans Create Institutions because they Were in a State of Chaos?
Agreed, modern humans believe that institutions are necessary to prevent chaos. But institutions serve another purpose, also. They grant men the right to own property. In other words, if institutions did not exist, no one would have the right to own anything. The issue is: Which came first, chaos or ownership? I argue that, without ownership, chaos is impossible.
Why do we allow people to own things, if chaos is the result? It’s because we are not the rational beings we think we are. If we were rational—that is, able to objectively analyze our circumstances—we would have known why ownership leads to chaos, and never have instituted the practice in the first place. We moderns believe it is natural to institute governing bodies to authorize rights of ownership. Those rights, however, result in a host of aberrations in our personal and collective lives—aberrations that go far beyond just the issue of chaos.
The right to own property, for instance, resulted in the institution of marriage, an aberration that granted men a special right—the right to own women. The dysfunctional families that resulted, aren’t the only issue. As a result of the right to own things—land, animals, and women—men started thinking the earth belongs to us, instead of us to the earth. This constituted a shocking aberration in the natural order of things. Through our right to own things, we each see ourselves as gods of our own domains, while we remain clueless to the fact that attaining “god” status renders us the absolute subjects of the institutions that grant us ownership rights. Through ownership, we presume to control our destiny, but there is a consequence. We must suffer the anxiety of living for the future, instead of knowing the peace that comes of living in the moment. Forced to focus on concerns about our future wellbeing, our behavior is dictated by our beliefs, instead of common sense. Our legal identities, through which we have the right to own property, are far more important to us than who we really are. Having to project a successful “legal self” for the sake of our survival and respectability, there no longer exist any grounds on which to become acquainted with our natural selves, and with the natural selves of those around us.
The aberrations that result from granting people rights of ownership affect our collective lives, as well. By making us each responsible for our future wellbeing, ownership spiritually alienates us from one another. Success in our alienated world is earned through competition, rather than cooperation. Success requires independence, self sufficiency, and personal wealth. Success in a natural culture, on the other hand, requires social acceptance among people who are bonded in mutual trust. Without others to depend on, and who depend on us to survive, loneliness is endemic. Ownership affects how our brains process information. It creates class consciousness, in which the status of each class becomes a measure of how much its members own. And people without the right to own anything have no social standing at all. They are slaves and, like animals, to be bought, sold, and used at will. Depending, as we do, on the things we own to survive, we have become abject dependents on the institutions that grant us the right to own things. As a consequence of this dependence, throughout recorded history, people have willfully killed and died on behalf of the institutions that granted them that right, believing, in every instance, that “God” was on their side.
Ownership so controls our perception of reality that the reason humans invented God, I suspect, was to create an entity to authorize their right to own things. Nothing in the natural world grants that right. For instance, we see marriage—through which men have traditionally been granted the right to own women—as instituted by God. Also each government, the institutions that modern humans believe makes living in mass cultures viable, is authorized by either a mortal god (a king, dictator, etc.), or an immortal one (a heavenly father). People who live in intimacy—in socially bonded communities that depend on Nature to survive—do have origin and destiny stories, but they have no gods—none that dictate moral commandments. This isn’t because they are incapable of creating them: If they can create origin stories, they certainly could create gods. They don’t create gods because they have no need for them, either to sanctify their right to own things, or to offer solace from the pain of an existence without intimacy—the very pain that granting people the right to own things creates.
The point is that legions of unintended aberrations have resulted from granting men the right to own property. Why are we unable to recognize these as aberrations? What prevents us from understanding how ownership transforms our perception of reality? Why did our ancestors institute the right to own things, in the first place?
The answer is that we think we are rational beings, when in fact we aren’t; We are feeling beings. We believe that our sense of what is real is based on an objective evaluation of our circumstances, when it’s actually based on our need to satisfy feelings. This need to satisfy feelings is born into us. It is not learned, and cannot be unlearned. In fact, all beings think they are rational, when in fact the essence of living is that circumstances change, feelings arise in response, and every belief we have or decision we make is based on the need to satisfy those feelings. Perhaps no other feeling is as strong as our will to live. It is because of this feeling that we believe we have the right to own things. What else could we believe, since modern life is organized so that owning things is the only way to secure the resources we need to survive?
Even though we believe in the right to own things, ownership doesn’t really satisfy our feelings. A person living in a mansion on a hill, for instance, can still suffer from agonizing loneliness. But, when we’re in a situation where there is no choice, but to own things to survive, our minds have no option other than produce feelings that support our belief in the right to own things. They produce them, regardless of what that entails—whether it be loneliness, dysfunctional families, living for the future, doing menial things to make a living, a life of abject subjugation to a state, and the chaos that ultimately destroys every civilization. All this happens, because, as feeling beings, we have no choice other than to believe in whatever satisfies our feelings. As a consequence of our absolute dependence on owning things to survive, we modern humans exist in a kind of a hypnotic trance that blinds us to the consequences of ownership. Reinforced, as it is, in every aspect of our lives, the trance holds in the face of all the cognitive dissonance that daily confronts us.
So, when discussing the issue of chaos, many other considerations are in order, because chaos is actually grounded in the right to own things, and ultimately in our mistaken belief that we are rational beings. Having summarized the problem, we now address the particulars of how ownership, and the chaos it creates, came about, as well as other attending consequences.
Institutions are the Sole Justification for their Own Existence
Before institutions existed, I believe, chaos would no more have been possible among humans than it is in other species. I am not saying that natural order meant perfect order. Perfect social order (meaning order without conflict, either within or among groups), doesn’t exist, even among the most highly evolved social species, like elephants and dolphins. But, perfect order isn‘t required for a species to flourish. A high degree of order is. In fact, existence is so dependent on a high degree of order, that existence and order are, in effect, synonymous. Whatever order existed among humans before we created institutions, the very fact that human life existed at all, assures us that whatever order they had was far closer to perfect than chaotic. So, institutions could not possibly have been created to prevent chaos.
This brings up the compelling question to which your comment alludes: If institutions are not needed to prevent chaos, why did humans invent them? I believe the males of our species created institutions to satisfy their desire to own things. They believed that, by creating institutions, they could grant themselves the right to make personal claims on women, land, and animals, and that this would guarantee the satisfaction of each man’s emotional and material needs, for life.
The men who first granted each other the right to own things thought they had found a rational solution to the problem of securing one’s future needs. We humans take pride in our belief that we are rational beings, and granting rights of ownership seems rational. But the practice inevitably creates a problem, for which—as modern humans have yet to discover—there is no rational solution: What is a culture to do, when a few of its members own almost everything!
Chaos is both the endgame, and the only possible solution, to that problem, the chaos of revolution, war, or the eventual cataclysmic collapse of all nation states. In effect, we human beings have built a perverse contradiction into our own lives, by employing institutions to authorize the right to own property—which guarantees eventual chaos—and by justifying those same institutions as protections against chaos! Ironically, the institutions to which we have subjugated our lives are the sole justification for their own existence! How droll it is to realize that our belief in institutions results in a dilemma much like that of a cat chasing its tail!
When cats chase their tails, they eventually figure out their dilemma. Though their tails are at-first enticing, they offer no nourishment, at least nothing of which a cat wants to partake. Likewise, our right to own things entices us with promises of an idealized future, but offers no satisfaction in the end—at least nothing of which humans want to partake. The issue for mankind is: When will we figure out our dilemma? As I see it, our happiness, and the continuing existence of our species depend upon it.
Our Brains Create Beliefs to make Whatever Sense they Can of an Institutionalized World
Let’s face it! It isn’t at all rational that we have failed to make the connection between ownership and chaos, despite thousands of years of history repeating itself! This is proof positive that we are “feeling” beings. Even though we think our reactions to our circumstances are rational, they are actually dictated by feelings that come from the evolutionary wisdom—the genetic wisdom—that our species has accumulated over evolutionary time. When humans are allowed to behave naturally, this wisdom provides each individual with a framework of feelings that guide us to respond to each circumstance we encounter, in whatever way best serves life.
It must be understood, however, that our feelings inspire us to serve life only when we are living the way our species evolved to live, and that is without the legal identities that now subject modern humans to institutionally imposed laws. Once we have a legal identity, that changes everything! To understand the degree of the change, consider: One of the most remarkable characteristics of the brain is its ability to adapt. It is so good, in fact, that a person wearing image-inverting glasses will begin seeing the world as upright again, within a day or so. This happens automatically, without intent. In the process of adapting, the subconscious mind, in effect, reconfigures its internal connections. It changes our brains physically. It changes how the brain processes information, in order to counter the effect of the inverting glasses.
Regardless of how senseless its situation, the brain will always adapt, by reconfiguring how it processes information to make the best sense it can of the situation. If you brand every newborn with a legal identity that forces him or her to survive by complying with instituted laws, then every member of that culture will grow up thinking that the only thing that makes sense is to do whatever must be done to substantiate his or her legal identity. That includes their willingness to kill and die on behalf of the institutions that branded them. Whoopee! Awaken to the world in which we all now live.
So you see, it’s not because of who we are, but because of our brains having been forced to adapt to a senseless world—a world hostile to life’s existence—that we spend our entire lives seeking wealth and privilege, when the only thing each of us really want, in our hearts, is to love and to be loved.
Altering how our brains process information to make sense of our institutionalized world, requires a far more complex physical reconfiguration than that required to compensate for a simple inverted visual image. Our brain must produce neurological pathways for all the beliefs that are so important to us, because only those beliefs make it possible to emotionally survive an existence without intimacy—beliefs in Gods, religions, ideologies, nationalism, money, law, technology, progress, hopes, goals, and dreams for the future. That’s bad enough, but the crucial issue is this: With the reconfiguration in place, success is defined by wealth and privilege. This places all individuals in direct competition, which profoundly separates us from one another. Ultimately, all modern humans feel this separation, and we pine for the “something” that is missing from our lives. Regardless of our family relationships, our accomplishments, our positions of power, our beliefs, our circle of friends, ultimately we all “know” that we are alone.
In the natural world that humans once took for granted, the one without legal identities, there were no artificialities to adapt to. The things we believed in did not require our brains to reconfigure any neurological pathway. We were born to believe in one another, and to love the land that sustained us, and that’s what we did. Success, in that world, was gained through social acceptance within the intimate context of small extended family groups. In the give and take, the desire to cooperate, the loving relationships within a circle of people totally dependent on one another for survival, all humans simultaneously served their own needs and each other’s, while serving the needs of life itself. And no one ever had any reason to feel alone.
If the guy who wears the inverting lenses, for a week or so, removes the glasses, then “reality” is upside down again—until he readapts. The same would be true of humanity, if only we could remove the veil that the brain’s adaptation has pulled down over our eyes. If we could remove the veil, we could see beyond the artificial reality that our brain’s adaptations cause us, now, to take for the real world.
The complex distortions our brains must create, in their effort to make sense of institutionalized reality, exist in every modern human being, and include all the beliefs and goals every individual holds so dear. Little wonder that we all feel threatened beyond words at the very idea of an existence without institutions. We are nonplussed! We can’t even picture existence, without them! But, whether right or wrong, I proclaim, here and now, that we, too, could readapt. We are every bit as capable of readapting as that guy who took off his inverting glasses. These brains of ours, that are doing such an remarkable job of adapting to our artificial modern civilization, have not lost their ability to readapt. They would quickly respond to the removal of the veil of artificial reality, at which point the natural reality that sustains human life, after thousands of years, would again make sense.
The way we would take off our inverting glasses would be to figure out how to survive without a legal identity. That involves cooperating with others outside the usual rules that come with legal identities. Call it direct cooperation, with no separate legal or monetary identity, and no rules on the wall to prescribe acceptable behavior! No rules is essential, because that frees the human spirit, which has been taking care of life since its very beginnings, to decide what behavior is socially acceptable. If we could cooperate directly with each other, we would quickly become cognizant of the fact that, in the real world, individual survival doesn’t happen without mutual survival. With that cognizance, our lives would suddenly make infinite sense, compared to the ones we are now living.
Another consequence of humans having been granted the right to own things is that we have become addicted to having that right. The highest form of human irrationality is our desire to own things, a desire that persists, despite both the spiritual alienation it immediately creates, and the chaos to which it eventually leads. Indeed, it is because we are feeling beings, not rational ones, that we are vulnerable to addictions. And ownership is the ultimate addiction. As happens with any addiction, the pleasure we take in owning things renders us blind to the consequences—alienation and chaos. Keep in mind that the need to satisfy feelings is the inspiration for all thoughts. Because satisfying feelings is the conscious mind’s singular goal, the reasoning required to satisfy them doesn’t have to be rational!
But, in one important sense, comparing owning things to a drug addiction is unfair. People don’t have to take drugs to survive. As institutional dependents, on the other hand, our addiction to the “drug of ownership” is forced upon us, because possessions, property, and the prosperity associated with them, are the only source of survival and respectability for modern humans.
There are No Rational Solutions to our Problems
If we were the rational beings we think we are, none of the consequences of ownership would have happened. We never would have instituted the practice of granting rights of ownership, in the first place, because any objective evaluation of our circumstances would have revealed the chaos to which ownership leads, as well as many of its other attending consequences. But, as a result of trusting our ability to reason, instead of our feelings—which are grounded in millions of years of genetically accumulated wisdom—here we are, buried in this mess with no clue about how to get out.
Ironically, because we are feeling beings, we must rely on our feelings to get us out. We have only two options—trust our feelings, or trust our reason. Trusting reason is what got us here. Continuing to seek rational solutions to our problems can only bury us deeper.
One example of how we keep burying ourselves deeper is the “rational solution” offered by communism. We have noted how the right to own property, granted under capitalism, leads to a few people eventually owning everything, then, to the chaos of revolution. Communism’s rational solution to avoid the eventual chaos caused by capitalism, is to institute a system in which the state owns everything. How has that rational solution worked out for humanity?
In the same way, the nuclear family is universally accepted in our society, as a rational solution to the question of how to organize family relationships. But, it is a rational solution that’s not working out so well, either. Again, we need to trust our feelings, and this is not rocket science: By common sense, alone, we can clearly see that intimacy comes only when we trust our relationships to our feelings, not to some idealized notion of how we think relationships should be. Back when our ancestors institutionalized human families, their rational minds overlooked some crucial things. A human family not about satisfying men’s desire to guarantee their future needs by owning women and children. It’s not suited to being a legal instrument for establishing inheritance rights. A real family is about far more than just raising children.
A human family is about survival, the survival of its members and, ultimately, the survival of our species. The fact that we moderns depend on money and law for survival, not Nature, does not change that. The instincts that inspire human behavior have been honed through millions of years of evolution, to enable pre-humans, then humans, to survive the natural world. Our instincts will never settle for family relationships that do not enable their members to survive the raw forces of Nature, whether we presently face those forces or not.
In the natural world, human families are, in effect, eternal. People’s lives flow through them. The family doesn’t appear with the signing of a contract, and then disappear with the death of one of the cosigners. Though, on occasion, members might join or leave, a real family is there to serve the needs of each of its members, in every moment of life from birth to death. One of the ways governments self-destruct is by funding social programs in their effort to artificially serve the human needs that real families serve naturally. In other words, governments destroy themselves, by trying to be surrogates for the families that governments originally destroyed, by authorizing the right to own property.
Indeed, the difference between a conservative and a liberal ideology is that conservatives think our problems will be solved by not allowing the government to interfere with each individual’s right to amass wealth. Liberals, on the other hand, seek to solve our problems by taxing the wealthy to materially support the people who have lost out in this game of monopoly we have going on. (Show me how everyone around a table can simultaneously win at the game of Monopoly, and I will show you how capitalism can succeed.)
All ideologies fail. The ideology of conservatism fails when a small percentage of the people own virtually everything, at which point the police and military become the protectors of the haves from the have-nots. For an example, picture revolutionary Cuba in the mid-fifties. The ideology of liberalism fails because the massive debts accrued in support of the needy eventually destabilize the monetary system. Greece in 2016 exemplifies that. Why not a good balance between the two? That would be like trying to stand a pencil on its point. There nothing to maintain the balance. One side or the other always gains the advantage, causing the system to swing to and fro. The amplitude of the swings always seems to increase, until the situation is unrecoverable, at which point the system slaps to the ground. In essence, you rob Peter to pay Paul, and then vice versa, until the day comes when there’s nothing left to rob.
We moderns become enslaved to one or the other of these ideologies, for one reason: Dysfunctional families. Dysfunctional families differ from functional ones in many respects, but principally, because they can’t take care of life. In functional families, no one needs personal wealth to be happy, nor do they need assistance from governments to take care of their needs. Assistance is all around them.
Unhappy homes, divorce, domestic violence, and the fact that over half of American adults now live alone, are not evidence of human failure. These aberrations are evidence of institutional failure. They are the result of institutionalizing family relationships that our souls cannot accept. “Irreconcilable differences,” a commonly used legal term, these days, highlights the fact that the soul’s desire has always been to serve life, as it has existed for eons, not some idealized notion of what modern people think life should be.
We Face an Existential Choice: Trust Institutions, or Trust the Human Spirit
Only when we understand the significance of the fact that we are feeling beings, not rational ones, can we recognize how humanity has boxed itself into a corner, where we now face an existential choice. Our two options are mutually exclusive—the first keeping humanity on its current trajectory toward ultimate demise, the second, returning humanity to the natural balance in which human life flourished until only moments ago, in evolutionary time.
For thousands of years, humans born under the authority of institutional rule have, understandably, accepted the first choice. Yet, we have been perpetually blind to it: Consider all the negative consequences that institutional subjugation inflicts on our lives—the poverty, divorce, and loneliness, the unhappiness imposed by having to do things we despise, in order to make a living, and the chaos to which it eventually leads! In the face of all that, we so-called modern humans spend our entire lives trying to make the best of things, never realizing there is a choice.
But there is a choice, and it is clear: Do we continue pursuing happiness in wealth and privilege, or do we seek it in the interdependent relationships through which humankind developed into the most highly evolved social species on earth? The two choices are mutually exclusive. They contradict one another, because the first choice requires that we trust our lives to institutions, and the second that we trust our lives to the human spirit. “No one can serve two masters…”—Mathew 6:24
The choice cannot be made en masse. It will never appear on a ballot. It has to be made by each individual. And, because we are not rational beings, our rational minds are not capable of making the choice.
The prerequisite for choosing to trust our lives to the human spirit is that we want to, that we feel like it. Feelings dictate our behavior, not reason. For instance, why do some people refuse to fly, despite the excellent safety record of airliners? It clearly has nothing to do with reason. It has everything to do with satisfying feelings. It’s because, for whatever reason—unknown even to them—they are afraid to fly.
Like people who are afraid to fly, we have no direct control over how we feel. Consequently, we have no control over the choices we make, other than to decide which feeling to satisfy, amongst whatever feelings we may be experiencing at the time. It makes no sense to pass judgment on ourselves or others, based on the choices we make. Our choices—including our refusal to trust the human spirit—are dictated by our need to satisfy feelings. Our choices are not made by us. They are made for us. They are the result of our need to satisfy feelings emanating from our subconscious minds, in response to circumstances.
When we choose not to trust the human spirit, we are acting like the people who are afraid to fly. Before institutions existed, the behavior inspired by the human spirit was solely responsible for the survival of our species. So you see, the human spirit has much more than an excellent safety record going for it. Only because the human spirit exists, does our species exist. And yet, we refuse to trust it. We distrust it, not because it hasn’t done enough to deserve our confidence, but because our minds are so pickled in institutional dependency that we don’t feel like trusting the human spirit. Keep in mind that we are not rational, so the fact that we owe our existence to the human spirit makes no difference. All decisions are based on the need to satisfy feelings, and, given the present state of our minds, we simply are afraid to trust the human spirit.
Reconnecting with Reality, Ourselves, and One Another, is Going to Require a Learning Experience
Humanity is disconnected from reality because our brains are not serving their purpose, which is to sustain the life of our species. Ownership has literally repurposed them, putting aside the millions of years of evolution that honed the process by which our brains produce the feelings that inspire humans to act in ways that serve the species. In their co-opted state, as creatures of institutional subjugation, our brains exist in utter denial of that core purpose. And they are stone blind to the fact that they are in denial. All those billions of neurons are working just the way they should, but they can’t see what’s happening to them. Our brains aren’t stupid. They are denying their own purpose, because, above all else, we need to survive. And right now that means being successful within the context of modern civilization, which requires us to trust our future to legal claims, not to one another.
If, however, a drastic change in our circumstances occurred, it could change how we feel. As a result, we could find ourselves trusting our lives to the human spirit, at which point we would be finding satisfaction in the moment. This would relieve us of having to keep optimism, hopes, and dreams alive. Dreams will never, nor have they ever, saved humanity. They are simply the means our brains use to patch up the emotional wounds we regularly suffer on our various treks to hell, the very wounds through which our instincts are trying to warn us that, regarding the issue of taking care of life, we are off course.
What would happen, for example, if hell arrived in the form of a total collapse of the international monetary system, on which people the world over now depend for the resources we need to survive. Ironically, in what we think of as our worst nightmare, we might discover heaven. Without institutions to depend on, people would have no choice other than to reach out to one another in relationships of mutual trust. Though their material circumstances would be dire, they would learn, through placing their trust in the human spirit, that intimacy is the only real path to happiness, not dreaming of wealth and privilege.
On the other hand, if we encountered a learning experience—as I did during the years of study through which I arrived at my views regarding the significance of feelings—that too, could irrevocably change how we feel. Should any learning experience teach us the significance of the fact that we are feeling beings, not rational ones, we would then realize why we should trust our lives to the human spirit! When the day comes that we feel the need to trust our lives to life itself, though still physically surrounded by modern institutional life, emotionally we will be separated from it by realizing that spiritual fulfillment is not found in satisfying institutional requirements. Because we are feeling beings, the desire to fund real spiritual fulfillment will throw a switch in our minds, at which point our rational minds will apply themselves to the process for which evolution honed them—to seek happiness in the intimacy of interdependent relationships, instead of owning things.
Is it even possible to be happy without owning anything, you may ask? Well, humans have flourished on this planet for around 200,000 years. The age of the ruins of ancient temples and other places of worship are testament to the fact that the type of hierarchy that is required to authorize ownership, did not begin to appear until around 11 to 15 thousand years ago. So, for at least the first 180,000 years of human existence, no man or woman ever owned anything. Are we to presume that those people were unhappy? Quite the opposite, I think. You see, only they—and the members of the other species, that didn’t own anything either—were free to live in the moment. The freedom to live in the moment is the only freedom that can sustain life, the only freedom of value to the souls that animate all life.
Destroying Happiness: The Perverse Inclination of the Institutionalized Mind
Since the earliest civilizations, wherever civilized people have encountered indigenous peoples living on land that civilized people wanted, we have callously wiped them out. If we are so civilized, how could we have done this? It has to do with the perilous limitations of our ability to reason. What in hindsight seems callous, was rational, at the time.
Civilized people own property. Indigenous people don’t. Civilized people see themselves as expressions of, and subject to, the laws of godlike institutions that grant those property rights. Indigenous people, on the other hand, see themselves as expressions of Nature. Yes, they’re subject to Nature’s laws, but they experience themselves as free. This is because Nature’s laws do not refute human instincts. Indeed, instincts express Nature’s laws.
The civilized mind has no clue that Nature’s laws apply to humans. To the civilized mind, anyone living outside the control of our godlike institutions is lawless, amoral, and spiritually depraved. As our civilized ancestors saw them, indigenous people were of little significance, and—like Nature itself—to be used or discarded at will. To the institutionalized mind, annihilating indigenous people was a rational solution to a problem. The only feelings involved—feelings the rational mind was compelled to obey—were those of distaste, superiority, and arrogance.
Consider that the sole distinction between a citizen and a slave, throughout all of civilized history has been the answer to this question: Does the individual have the right to own property? Our inability to display soul-felt respect for those who do not have property rights demonstrates, above all else, the degree to which the “drug of ownership” affects how our brains process information. What chance did indigenous people have against civilized ones who were so out of touch with reality that they were incapable even of recognizing indigenous people as human?
Had we only known.
But we didn’t know.
The issue of life is happiness. We were destroying happiness and we didn’t know it. We thought we were destroying things that were of no significance, whatsoever.
If Individuals Lived Without Institutions, Wouldn’t a Society of Millions Become Anarchical?
As you suggest, it is possible, I suppose, for individual humans to drop out and live off the land, in order to avoid institutional dependency. But, humans evolved as a social species. We’re not constituted, either emotionally or physically, to live off the land, as separate individuals. Being a social species means that we can’t know happiness or intimacy, nor can we ever experience the sense of commitment to life that our spirits long for, without the close company and cooperation of others of our kind. The operative words, here, are “close” and “others,” for no human is an island. Human survival requires the multiplication of individual capabilities, to ensure the species’ success. The evolutionary process long ago established the “survival unit” of all social species as a socially bonded group—not an individual, not a pair-bond, not a herd, and certainly not a mass society!
Because individuals can’t survive alone, the type of chaos you alluded to—individuals going about doing their own things, totally inconsiderate of the needs of others—can’t exist. It can’t exist in institutionalized life, because, to survive, we need to respect the property rights imposed by instituted law. It can’t exist in natural life, because of our need to obey our instincts, which are rooted in our profound need and concern for others. But, by institutionalizing human relationships, we have created a unique kind of chaos—organized chaos, as I think of it. Organized chaos is what eventually brings nation-states down. And, in my estimation, organized chaos will eventually bring our species down, should it continue.
Trying to live in mass cultures, an attempt which—you’re right!—can only be facilitated by instituted laws, creates a management problem that no intelligence in the universe can solve. Our brains are large, because they evolved to inspire the many behaviors required for each individual to play his or her role in taking care of life. Chief among them is the unimaginably complex task of maintaining order even in the small social groups, of 50 individuals or less, in which our primitive ancestors flourished. Without institutions, how large do you think our brains would have to be to manage the intricacies of social order among millions or billions of individuals?!
The point is that our brains simply aren’t large enough to manage mass cultures. That’s why a primary function of the institutions, through which we presume the ability to prevent chaos, is to outlaw our brains’ innate sensibilities about social order, altogether. Our instincts must be kept off the table, because their sensibilities are in relentless conflict with the dictates of institutional life. The harshest example of how we are keeping instincts at bay can be found in our institutionalization of family relationships. In effect, marriage outlaws the natural instinct to live in intimate social groups, an instinct that evolved over eons, and was responsible for the organic social order under which our species long flourished. Having outlawed our innate sensibilities, we are reduced to following only institutional prescriptions, and to do so by rote, while we manage the pain of our repressed emotions.
By living in mass societies, we are staking human life on the unsupported presumption that formularized behavior can sustain the life of our species, forever. It’s as if we think our species could sustain itself, if our brains could be replaced with computers programmed to obey the laws. I wonder what our “computer brains” would have us do when a few people owned everything. Having been programmed to exclusively obey the law, they wouldn’t have the sense to revolt. If they couldn’t find a place to live, or the resources needed to survive, they would probably just have us lie down and die. There’s no law against that.
Mass societies have demonstrated, throughout history, that they can maintain order via institutional prescriptions…for awhile. But, because the order they impose is artificial, it results neither in the happiness of relational intimacy that humans naturally crave, nor in the ultimate objective of our species—survival.
Think about it. How can we expect to experience the happiness through which life rewards all beings for contributing to life’s success, when we are reduced to seeking personal success, instead, by obeying artificially imposed laws? Only when functioning in our natural way, as the members of a social species, can we simultaneously serve our own real heartfelt needs, the real needs of those around us, and the needs of life, itself.
Allowing us the freedom to take care of life is the only thing that can prevent chaos. Institutionalizing life, thus denying us that freedom, is the cause of chaos.
What Would Keep People from Forming Factions and Power Brokering, Resulting in the Chaos World Depicted in “The Lord of the Flies?”
When men attained the right to own things, that was the birth of the “Lord of the Flies” scenario that you describe. We think of the lord of the flies scenario as the definition of outright chaos. We think that human civilization has organized our world against chaos, but, in truth, civilized human life has chaos built into it, a chaos manifested in factionalism and inevitable self destruction. The way it is organized, human civilization pits people against each other. It creates a world of factionalism that separates us, both collectively and individually, afflicting all relationships, from nations to individuals.
The moment men formed the first coalition, through which they claimed the right to own women—or to own anything—each one of them became subject to the power wielded by that coalition. Today, that subjugation extends to every man on earth. It also extends to every woman on earth, to whatever extent that woman has gained her civil rights—specifically, the right to own property. And that is the world in which we all now live. We adhere to its institutionally imposed rules in order to qualify for the power that the rules permit us to accrue, in the form of wealth and privilege. To the extent we succeed in accruing personal wealth, we are all powerbrokers, under the rules.
As things now stand, our personal success—man or woman—is largely the measure of how much power we are able to broker in terms of wealth. And we view our collective success, as a mass society, in terms of how much power we broker, as a nation. This power is the measure of our ability to impose, on the rest of the world, the religious and/or secular beliefs, on which our institutions stand. And it exists, forever, as a moveable, a changeable power, a power capable of being lost. Hence, the anxiety that civilized people suffer as a result of believing that security resides in being either the most dominate, or allied with the most dominate, power broker on earth.
There are now hundreds of nation-states, each one claiming sovereignty. But, the state’s claim of sovereignty, through which it presumes to be in control forever (the contracts that states authorize, keep in mind, have no termination date) can be sustained only for awhile. All “sovereign” states, in due time, are eliminated by insurrection or war. States are justified because their subjects believe that they can produce rational solutions to the problems that face the populace. But states are predisposed to failure, because there is simply no rational solution to the problem that eventually develops, once the state grants people the right to own property. What does the state do when a few people own everything? That question is of even more serious concern, now that modern technology has “gifted” states with weapons of mass destruction. When hundreds of states claim sovereignty, it creates the perfect “Lord-of-the-Flies” scenario—in its most devastating and frightening manifestation.
Consider these words by Yanni, during his World Without Borders Concert. PBS 12.01.15
“I remember, a few years ago, I was watching this astronaut from the space shuttle talking about his experiences in space… And talking about what earth looked like to him from above. A lot of his ideas and thoughts over the years are now echoed by the astronauts in the international space station right now. What they’re saying is that when they are looking at earth from above, they’re having a hard time telling countries apart from each other…because the lines that lay on the maps are not on the ground.
It’s a great point, isn’t it. Those lines really don’t exist. And human beings have been using them since the beginning of time in order to commit aggression and violence on one another. And all the lines on the maps…completely made up, anyway…and they perpetuate this illusion that somehow we’re all different form each other. Well, I dream of a day when all lines fade away and we finally realize that we’re all one people living on this one magical beautiful place called earth”
How true. Indeed, those lines on our maps are not real! But, then neither are legal identities. Our “paper” identities are so unreal that, to have one, we must spend most of our private and public lives pretending we are something we aren’t. That is a pretention to which we are so habituated that we don’t realize we are pretending. We don’t do this by free will. We have no option other than to pretend. As things stand, there is no place on this planet for the human beings we really are. “All the world is a stage,” said Shakespeare, at least all the institutionalized world.
Those lines on the map, the ones that don’t exist on the ground, graphically illustrate how our legal identities separate us and inspire the violence we moderns commit against one another. I spent most of my professional career developing electronic devices to facilitate our nation’s ability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, for the purpose of protecting the very institutions through which I was being paid for my services. My counterpart, in the U.S.S.R., who, by Nature’s standards, could have been my brother, was doing the same thing. And I thought I was making the world a better place, which I presume was also true of him.
Talk about the mindlessness of a cat chasing its tail! I was in it up to my ears. But, I’m not blaming myself. I had no clue. And I’m not blaming anyone else, whether they have a clue, or not. We all have to serve the monetary system, and advancing technology is a proficient way to do it. Besides, if I had decided not to do it, there would have been plenty of others ready to step in and take my place. In that sense, we are all powerless. Given institutional dependency, it doesn’t matter what any of us do. Those lines will remain on our maps, and all the implications of their presence will remain in full bloom, as long as we depend on institutions to survive.
Amid the hubris of burgeoning human societies, Nature’s undeniable ultimate sovereignty has been forgotten, for thousands of years. That sovereignty is Nature’s irresistible force, the very force to which we owe our existence. This is what Jesus was trying to tell us 2000 years ago, when he proclaimed, before Pilot, that there was a power far greater than Rome’s. His effort to get mankind to stop “chasing its tail” cost him his life, a life he willingly surrendered, on behalf of the suffering being visited on all mankind, at the hands of hundreds of false sovereigns.
Jesus realized, it seems to me, that Nature’s sovereignty is made manifest through natural laws that govern the life of every species on earth. These “laws of life” are unique for each species. They are revealed, by emotions, to each individual creature. They are its inborn guide for what to do, or not do, in response to every situation it encounters. Among the members of most social species, it is the females who make these laws of life manifest. Through their natural social bonds as females, they satisfy their need for mutual support in raising their young. In so doing, they form the essential core of family units wedded, as they are, to the laws of life. Their natural sensibilities exert a powerful spiritual authority that organically maintains order, within each group, and among groups. This pattern of behavior is exemplified by female elephants and lions.
Among humans, the institutionalization of men’s right to own women destroyed these naturally bonded sisterhoods, wiping out the laws of life, as they apply to social order, among humans. A huge blow. As a result of men forming coalitions to authorize their right to own women, the forces of Nature that created us lost control of us, a situation not conducive to happiness, or to our species’ survival. By owning women, men destroyed Nature’s sovereignty over human existence. They unknowingly unleashed, on our species, the “Lord-of the-Flies” scenario in which each of us innocently participates, today.
Because they are mutually exclusive, female and male authority cannot coexist. Male authority is expressed through the hierarchies that are inherent to mass societies. Female authority, on the other hand, is expressed through the intimacy of interdependent relationships. The two cannot coexist, because hierarchies destroy intimacy. Male authority is focused on the future, in which case, the end always justifies the means. Female authority applies to the present. Take care of now, and the future will take care of itself.
For Nature to regain control of human existence, it is necessary for women to reassert their natural spiritual authority. Whether sparked by a realization within, or by the opportunity presented when institutions collapse, I believe it is possible that just a few women would be capable of doing that? To do it, they would have to divorce themselves entirely from what instituted law has told women for thousands of years—that making a lifetime commitment to a man is necessary to have a child. The dysfunctional nature of the legal arrangement called marriage is evident in the unhappiness, family breakups, and child and spousal abuse that have become rife in modern society.
Those women would also have to free themselves, spiritually, by renouncing all personal legal identities. And how would women do that? As I see it, the key issue isn’t how to do it, but wanting to do it. It’s going to take a learning experience to create the necessary spark, and that’s not something you can make happen. It comes when it comes. And each of the women must experience it individually, because, if the reassertion of natural order is to happen, the learning required to inspire it must occur in each individual involved.
It’s not that people aren’t ripe for the profound change of which I speak. We all know there is something wrong. The pain, discord, alienation, and anxieties that seem inherent to our present existence make that crystal clear. Though the epiphany we require can’t be guaranteed, there is no reason to believe it won’t occur. The pressures on the side of making it happen are constantly increasing. The fruit of that epiphany, if it happens, to those few women of whom we peak, will be the renewed upwelling of a natural desire that every individual once took for granted. I speak of the innate human desire—currently blocked by institutions—to trust our lives to our own spirits, and the spirits of those around us. As they form, anew, the core of a natural human family, those women will have rediscovered the simple recipe, long hidden from modern humans, for experiencing the intimacy and connectedness that typified human life, as it thrived for the tens of thousands of years, before institutions changed everything.
The lost sisterhoods through which the laws of human life are made manifest were once the great moderating force, among humans. This is not to say that even their spiritual authority results in perfect social order. In Nature, where everything is a work in progress, even order continually evolves. Absent the spiritual authority of those sisterhoods, however, there is no viable reference for order, among humans, at all.
Sisterhoods, among both social animals and humans, share the most important ingredient for order, territorial sensibility. It combines readiness to defend your own territory, and to show respect the territory of others. Women are territorial, because evolution honed them for maintaining the order required for them to raise their young. For men, on the other hand, the most important issue of life is the question of identity—that is, “How important am I?” So, when men found self-importance in managing their hierarchical systems, they removed all reference for making or respecting territorial claims. In other words, under male rule might makes right. And, instead of the land being the resource for all life, it is like everything else, a commodity subject to power brokering.
The necessity to own property, in order to have a place to live, defines our lives, because male hierarchical systems rule modern civilization. But, like it or not, nobody’s rules change the fact that we are part of the natural world. Once upon a time, when humans lived close to the earth and the other species, we established territorial homes, as they did, and shared the earth’s resources, according to the sensibilities of the human soul. That was the way that came naturally to us, before manmade rules reprogrammed our brains to function in the modern human terrarium governed by laws and technology. If sisterhoods can be reestablished, we can return to being the people who thrived in concert with our inborn spirits. Individual success would once-more be social acceptance, not one’s aptitude for brokering power.
Most importantly, with sisterhoods in control, we could again trust our future to the inborn sensibilities of each of our brains. We would be spared the mindlessness of trusting order to the 4,400 words that make up the U. S. Constitution, that is the justification for the millions of laws that now govern this land, or, in the case of ancient civilizations, to the dictates of the firstborn of the previous king.
Your Analysis of what Jesus was Attempting to do is Close to What I Learned when I was a Theology Student. Though he Didn’t Support Institutions, He was Not, as you Assert, Against Them
I appreciate that comment. I have long held that Jesus is the only figure of historical prominence who had any clue regarding what is actually happening to us humans. I trust there must have been many others, because what happened is remarkably simple, once you see it. But the story of their lives never gained prominence.
I equate God with Nature. In other words, the forces of Nature created us. If others want to refer to Nature as God, I take no issue with that. So, what did God/Nature give us? It gave us our existence, our emotions, and a planet to live on. The question, as you put it, so well, is: Are we appreciating what God has given us? Well, every time we lie about our feelings of the moment, which we do in virtually every instance that we broker power, we are failing to appreciate the emotions that God gave us. And, when we do things that are destructive to the planet, which we do every time we drive to work in the morning, we are not appreciating the planet that God gave us to live on.
If we were appreciating the planet God gave us, we would be living close to God, and acquiring our resources by living on the land. As a person who depends on money for all my material needs, I am—by definition—brokering power. I do this without having a clue how the tens of thousands of dollars I spend annually affect the planet. Even if I suspect that the effects are devastating, I have no viable option, as the subject of a monetary system, other than to continue spending money for the sake of my survival—free will or no free will.
It’s common knowledge that one of the most effective ways to solve the crimes that humans commit against one another, is to follow the money. Likewise, to understand the crimes we commit against Nature—and against the other species who share God’s gift of this planet with us—all we need do is follow the money. Brokering power, by using money, is so central to habitat destruction that, without money, humans could not possibly have the power to denature this planet. The question that I—and anyone else who would like to join me—would ask the world is this: Is money compatible with human existence? With due respect for the situation in which all of us presently find ourselves, I don’t think so.
Your comment suggests that Jesus was concerned only with spiritual issues, and that he had no feelings about institutions. But I believe he did. Indeed, when brought before Pilot, Jesus could have saved his life and spared himself the pain and shame of the crucifixion, simply by recognizing Rome as sovereign. But he didn’t! How could he possibly have made it more clear, how he felt about institutions? And he was right. Rome is gone. Nature is still here. And in my view, it will always be here, regardless of what happens to our institutions—or for that matter, to our species.
My hope, in responding to my friend’s critique, has been to open the reader’s mind to the possibility that the very institutions we trust to prevent chaos are actually the cause of it. We think we must control the indefinite future, via the authority of instituted law, when in fact we can’t. As a result of that misguided effort, our minds have gotten wrong virtually everything else about life. Our most problematic error has been to elevate the authority of the written word, to place men in control of social order, instead of recognizing the authority of the human spirit, and of the sisterly bonds through which that authority naturally maintains order.
In closing, let me note: I don’t know whether my friend is right, or I am, regarding these matters. I feel I’m right, but that is unavoidable, because of the way the brain functions. As feeling beings, we have no choice other than to value as truth what we feel to be the truth. The fact is, no matter how certain we are of our beliefs about the future, only the future contains the truth. And, since the future hasn’t happened, yet, it’s not telling. Despite our differences, I thank my friend for sharing his views.
If, like Michael J Fox, we could hitch a ride in Christopher Lloyd’s DeLorean time machine, we could transpose ourselves a thousand years into the future. Then, we could know who’s right. If, in that future, there are humans, but no institutions—or if there are no humans at all—then I am right. On the other hand, if we find that future humans have successfully amassed the resources required to colonize a planet orbiting the next star beyond the sun, then I will be proven wrong.
If it should happen that there are no humans, one thousand years from now, then there will be no one to care who was right or wrong. The whole issue of human existence will simply have imploded—returned to the nothingness from whence we came—except for the massive stacks of abandoned junk still lying around. But mankind’s ultimate survival is not the issue. The issue is what we do, and how we feel, while we are here. Do we feel happiness? How well do we treat ourselves and those around us? How well do we treat the other species who share Nature’s gift of life with us? How well do we treat the planet that sustains us all?
If we, as sisterhoods and brotherhoods, can break out of our encapsulated institutional lives, we will naturally embrace their opposite, a way of life in which we need no personal legal identity to survive. We will trust our lives to the human spirit as manifested through our own feelings, and through the feelings of those around us. When we place our trust in the human spirit, life rewards us with immediate intimacy. For a social species, intimacy is happiness.
When loving, and being loved, there is no need to look for satisfaction in the future—whether it comes from the accumulation of wealth, the promise of the hereafter, or technology’s promise that mankind will someday inhabit the universe. That is the test for happiness, you see. If we are not looking for satisfaction in the future, it is because we are finding it in the present. It is because we are happy.
Into the womb of mother
She who gives birth, care, affection,
nurturing, and protection.
Painting intuitively on the canvas of life,
For all of us, unconditionally.
Mothering: The most sacred of arts.
The art of loving creation.
—From the film, “Echoes of Creation” (Sacred Earth Pictures)
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