Deconstructing Narratives

In the study of postmodernism, one is confronted with the concept of narratives — overarching and comprehensive accounts of events, experiences, and social and cultural phenomena based on an appeal to universal truth or universal values. The narrative is the story that’s presented about the event, one that legitimizes power, authority, and social customs.

Each of us in the U.S. makes assumptions about life based on some or many narratives that seem to have been set in stone and against which we have no choice but to go along. We’re in a season where skepticism is increasing, however, as more and more people discover that these things aren’t really concrete but stem from the narratives of others like the ruling class, those who have the power to force rules and hierarchies on the powerless. This growing skepticism is a frightening perspective for the status quo, who demands that the rules be followed regardless of their source. Here, the great enemy is the postmodern exercise known as deconstruction, where narratives are examined to uncover both source and path. Deconstruction is the great commoner counterweight to the status quo.

Here’s an example from my own history. In the early 1970s, I was a morning news producer and part-time Assignment Editor for WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. I lived in the suburb of Shorewood, not very far from the campus of WTMJ, and had to be in work around 4 o’clock in the morning. My street was a one-way street that ended at a normally busy street. I needed to turn left, but there was a sign saying “No Left Turn.” There was zero traffic on the street, so I simply turned left, and one morning, a cop was watching. I got a ticket and was pretty upset about it. I can’t emphasize enough that the street was completely empty.

I did research and discovered that many years earlier, a woman pushing a baby stroller was run over by a car making a left turn at the intersection. The driver didn’t see the woman, because he was blinded by the setting sun, which was directly in his eyes. The story got a lot of attention, and so the authorities banned all left turns at the intersection. Based on that narrative, I was able to successfully argue that the circumstances at the intersection were very different in the middle of the night, and I convinced the Traffic Safety Commission to change the law from No Left Turn to No Left Turn 7am-7pm. If I hadn’t found the narrative that was used to justify the law in the first place, I would’ve had much more difficulty reaching the commissioners.

The point is it can be very valuable to know and understand the narrative behind the things we encounter around us and elsewhere. So let’s dig deeper. According to the New World Encyclopedia:

A grand narrative or metanarrative is one that claims to explain various events in history, gives meaning by connecting disperse events and phenomena by appealing to some kind of universal knowledge or schema. The term grand narratives can be applied to a wide range of thoughts which includes Marxism, religious doctrines, belief in progress, universal reason, and others.

The concept was created by Jean-François Lyotard in his work, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (1979). In this text, Lyotard refers to what he describes as the postmodern condition, which he characterized as increasing skepticism toward the totalizing nature of “metanarratives” or “grand narratives.”

…Many Christians believe that human nature, since the Fall (Genesis 3), is characteristically sinful, but has the possibility of redemption and experiencing eternal life in heaven; thus representing a belief in a universal rule and a telos for humankind.”

The challenge for all of us in 2021 is to recognize narratives when confronted with events — especially those political — so that we might have a chance of separating the facts from the bullshit. If we adapt to this form of understanding, we’ll see it everywhere, because every person, every business, every institution has a narrative that helps explain their language and their behavior. A personal narrative is called “agency,” the freedom I have to present myself to the world in any way that feels right to me. The problem, of course, is that we’re all human beings, and agency narratives can easily slip into selfishness, which is a serious problem for those who are trying to exercise love in their lives.

MAGA Christianity, for example, is narrative, and that’s exactly why it’s so dangerous. Universal plausibility, not fact, is what determines the story, so the grand narrative presented is false but effective in providing its denizens with what sounds like a reasonable story.

“The democrats are socialists who want to take your hard-earned money and give it to those who ought to just work like the rest of us.”

This is, of course, quite false, but it fits the conservative grand narrative that the rich people are the smart folks in our culture and provide a path for people to follow, because wherever democrats are in charge, there is waste. All one has to do to succeed in this life, therefore, is follow the rules and conform to the narrative, including the popular myth that teaching a man to fish is better than giving him a fish. The simple truth here is that the fishing pond doesn’t evenly spread the fish (resources) out in such a way that they can be caught equally.

If you understand narratives, you’ll begin to understand the old adage that “in war, the victor writes the history,” and you’ll also start asking questions about the narratives that you uncover. If you’re super lucky, you’ll soon begin — at some level — the postmodern practice of deconstructing those same narratives in an honest search for truth. History is not truth. History is narrative. As Peter Lurie pointed out in his marvelous 2003 essay “Why the Web Will Win the Culture Wars for the Left: Deconstructing Hyperlinks”, the web puts us automatically within deconstruction’s reach, because every link beckons us to dig deeper and discover for ourselves. We have no idea where this is going to lead culturally, except that it is going to be terribly difficult for the status quo.

“The content available online is much less important than the manner in which it is delivered; indeed, the way the Web is structured. Its influence is structural rather than informational, and its structure is agnostic. For that reason, parental controls of the sort that AOL can offer give no comfort to conservatives. It’s not that Johnny will Google “hardcore” or “T&A” rather than “family values;” rather, it’s that Johnny will come to think, consciously or not, of everything he reads as linked, associative and contingent. He will be disinclined to accept the authority of any text, whether religious, political or artistic, since he has learned that there is no such thing as the last word, or indeed even a series of words that do not link, in some way, to some other text or game. For those who grow up reading online, reading will come to seem a game, one that endlessly plays out in unlimited directions. The web, in providing link after associative link, commentary upon every picture and paragraph, allows, indeed requires, users to engage in a postmodernist inquiry.”

Be a deconstructor, but think positively. This is a time of tremendous opportunity. Distance yourself from the status quo, for it is crashing and will blow up in time. Before that happens, however, the heat on all of this is going to be burning furiously, and it points right now to civil war. Trump and his cronies continue to pull followers further to the right, and there will come a point when all their guns will begin firing. The ensuing terror will exceed that of 9/11, because this will be perpetuated by our neighbors, not foreigners who already hate all of us. Follow the narrative to get a glimpse of tomorrow. By presenting their political ideas as an overarching narrative, followers have no choice but to go along to the very end. The appeal, after all, is universal plausibility.

The media doesn’t get this, because the media presents itself as a special class, which is part of its own narrative. In other words, the media is simply unwilling and therefore not capable of presenting life as narrative. Goodness, that would be a lot of work.

A citizenry that does its own deconstructing is not easily fooled by political narratives, and that’s where we’re all headed thanks to the World Wide Web. This shift in human understanding is eonic in nature, and we can say with great confidence that the era of modernism is over, which likely accounts for all of the current conflict between ideologies that we’re experiencing today. One era dies; another rises. Welcome to the era of postmodernism.

The irony is that this changing narrative was brought about by a pandemic and the shutting down of the culture for a season. Suddenly home alone and with tons of “free” time, people retreated into survival mode and began a great awakening amongst the people that “jobs” aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and that nobody really cares for anybody else, just themselves. This has spawned an entire generation of unsatisfied people who’re working the system to start their own businesses and thus be their own employers. Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, Doordash, and others have given many of these people a way to make a few bucks while exploring their options. I use Uber several times a month, and my survey of drivers strongly suggests this is so.

So, who’ll run things when the era matures? We will. The people. And that has a chance to be glorious.

Deconstructing Life: Consciousness

What Is the Purpose of Life? | Psychology Today
Courtesy Psychology Today

A lot of “science” keeps showing up in my news feed these days concerning the study of consciousness. I read every one of these articles, but I always (at least often) find them lacking in the sense that our world views consciousness as only an individual experience. I think, therefore I am. That’s fine, but what we’re missing here is a more important matter. Unfortunately, it’s anathema to science and is therefore lumped together, by science, with superstition, myth, and fantasy.

There are two forms of consciousness in the human experience. One is, of course, our private, individual consciousness, which includes our thoughts, moods, actions, reactions, motivations, behaviors, and more. The second, however, is the consciousness that both surrounds us and flows through us. This forms the very fabric of Life under the sun and consists of the consciousness of all who live, have lived, or await the birth of the flesh. It is the consciousness assigned to “God” in worldwide religions, but it is not a being separate from us. This consciousness is forever evolving with cultural and individual advancements and is experienced by all of us who live life under the sun. This is pure consciousness, the very life blood of planet Earth.

We are in the birth pangs of making space travel a regular (normal?) part of being human. When we travel in space, we must abide by the laws that govern life on earth. Otherwise, we’d die in the vacuum of outer space. Astronauts take the consciousness of the moment with them and therefore the rest of us along with them.

This suggests that all personal or private consciousness exist within this greater consciousness, which explains a great many naturally-occurring events that we tend to dismiss as happenstance or fantasy. I’m referring to things like reincarnation, impossible “memories”, déjà vu, feelings like you’ve been somewhere before, some dreams (but not others), “bad” apples, and even sociopathy and other serious mental conditions.

This is the consciousness that begs our study and consideration, especially in an age when individuality and agency tickle the ears of those humans confessing their form of uniqueness. Yes, we’re individuals who can determine our own agency, but we cannot dismiss the sameness of the human race. It’s the problem with our thinking that’s played the biggest role in the separation of humans based on religion or politics in the early 21st Century.

We are all a part of this forever and always have been. Deja Vu? More likely a breach of this reality. Reincarnation? Same thing. People who don’t understand this believe what they’ve been taught, that this life is where you prepare for the next, crudely identified as heaven and hell. What they can’t realize is that our addresses in the future will be the same as today, for heaven and hell are states of living under the sun. Those who’ve lived a life in hell, for example, bring that hell with them into the consciousness of all. Good and evil function in the same way and impact the culture through this ever-present living consciousness.

Fallacy is the great destroyer of consciousness.

Consciousness is locked into the moment. As a result, it exists in the unique position of advancing the culture despite what the fallacious earthly command and control mechanisms demand and need for the maintenance of their power. Our politics, for example, may wish for better days (for them), but in so doing, they draw attention to their self-centered demands. For example, consciousness knows that abortion has always been a choice of the one who carries the child and therefore, that attempts to control the rate at which we murder our children in utero cannot compete with the consciousness of our planet leading us as a whole to stop killing our own children. The image of women entering abortion clinics for convenient birth control have been blown apart by the stories of women who struggle greatly over the matter. It’s inhuman to describe these women as gleeful for getting rid of something unwanted. No, our consciousness has already moved on, which is why continued efforts to support the institution of “Pro-Life” are the equivalent of beating a dead drum. Next?

Consciousness is bound to time and space and moves in time under the sun. The past is not conscious, nor is the future. Life under the sun, therefore, begins with individual consciousness and is automatically a part of the consciousness that sets the parameters of what’s allowed under the sun. There can be no logical argument against this. Are fetuses conscious within the womb? Ever read “The secret life of the unborn child?”

How do Monarch butterflies return from North America to a specific set of trees in Mexico to overwinter? They are a part of the Earth’s consciousness and know the way via those who’ve been there before. It is impossible for science to view such thoughts as viable, despite the reality of Occum’s Razor.

Consciousness cannot travel backwards or forwards. This is why time travel is a fantasy, for your own consciousness is bound to all consciousness, and in order to travel backwards or forwards, we’d be locked into the consciousness of that time, so why travel at all? People all the time say they’d love to go back with what they now know, but that isn’t possible, for consciousness evolves as life advances. A 50-year old mind has adapted to the contemporary moment, but none of that can move forwards or backwards. It simply evolves in place, because that mind has consumed 50-years of data. One year equals one-fiftieth of his life, and he could not survive intact, for example, when a year equals only 1/25th of his life. All of the knowledge and wisdom gained by age 50 simple cannot go back to his point at 25, so again, why the wish to go back and relive all of it? You can’t even tell your past self to enjoy life more, because that knowledge will likely have been gained during years 26–50.

What an incredible gift it is for each of us to live under the sun, but we come from consciousness and to it we shall return.

When we learn things “naturally,” where do you think that comes from, if not the corporate consciousness of all humanity? An infant gets frightened and will not venture out onto a platform with a glass bottom, for she knows she might fall and hurt herself. She senses the concept of falling, because those types of consciousness have been around since the beginning. They are hard to ignore. We call these things “instincts,” but where are they embedded except the consciousness she’s a part of.

Are newly discovered civilizations in the Amazon, for example, a part of this advancing consciousness? Absolutely, because we must admit we know very little about the spiritual nature of such simple human beings. Moreover, we dare not judge such, for the quickest path away from the moment is to lord oneself over others, and this is one of the fundamentals of the consciousness being discussed here.

This group consciousness serves as a governor of human behavior, and as it gets infected with radical selfishness, it becomes burdensome to everyone. Have you ever walked into a room of loving people so filled with life that the room itself seems to almost float? Sensitive people know of which I speak. Likewise, the feel of that room can be so dark that they’ll have to leave quickly or be consumed by it.

This consciousness functions at the subconscious level for most of those who’ve entered animal bodies under the sun. Like God, it has a one-way connection to human kind, but it is observable by those who believe it exists. Most people can’t, won’t, or don’t, and so it appears to them as if we’re alone and not connected. The contemporary desire for agency is found here, and while that’s fine under the sun, it’s limiting when it comes to a greater understanding of life.

The most exciting thing about all this is that consciousness is slowly evolving as we gain knowledge and wisdom, No matter how much political pressure is applied to stop this evolution — after all, the status quo doesn’t want any part of this evolution — it’s just not going to stop the advancement of the human race. If consciousness is evolving, then what is to be our response but to evolve along with it?

I realize that what’s presented here is counterintuitive and may be considered foolishness to those who prefer a more scientific perspective, but that’s exactly why we need to explore alternative explanations for life under the sun. Frankly, the hope for the human race is going to require innovative thinking that doesn’t accept the limits of science as ultimate truth.

The Ego’s Role in Trauma Response

What is ego? Does it need to be destroyed? | Isha Sadhguru

“I am the result of the way I reacted to what happened to me as a child.” AA Big Book, Freedom From Bondage

The ego is a part of the self but not the self. When all needs are met, the ego and the self work together efficiently to take us through our lives. Ego is not inherently evil, although it can become very much so with the right set of circumstances. For example, where there is trauma, the ego rises in defense and seizes the opportunity to lead the damaged self. But, as the ego continues in this position, it becomes stronger in representing the self’s identity, one that is often fallacious and harmful to the self’s wellbeing.

For purposes of this discussion, it’s important to view ego as a two-sided coin. On one side, there’s the image of being better than others, but the flip side reveals the image of being worse than everybody else. It’s the same dynamic at work in either case, and in fact, the latter is much more common than the former.

The ego knows when the self has been hurt and uses that hurt to maintain its position in the mind of the victim. It does so by leading the self into constantly repeating the pain of rejection and abandonment that the self feels. In this way, the balance between the two is nearly impossible to restore. The ego is in a constant search for situations that will remind the self of its failings and, thus, keep the seat of power in the patient’s mind. What person reeling from abandonment issues, for example, hasn’t deliberately walked right into likely rejection? That person is lost, because she cannot figure out why she keeps doing this over and over again. It is the very definition of insanity.

The character of the ego, post-trauma, is described in Eric Bernes’ Transactional Analysis as a juvenile ego state known as The Little Professor, which is why some trauma responses are often viewed as foolish and childish behaviors. The Little Professor is smart, creative, and obsessed with protecting the self. Unfortunately, however, protecting the self includes living the life that the self knows should be hers, and in order to stay in charge, the ego then works to continue the pain that keeps the self bound in what feels like complete helplessness. This is often where the patient’s damages surface in what is often addictive behavior. Quieting the voice of the ego becomes the self’s obsession, which addictions provide for a season. A nervous breakdown of some sort will occur when the patient’s ego/self runs completely off the rails, for example, through an arrest, an outburst at work, or some other form of self-destruction.

The ego’s weapon is deception. Through this, she works very hard to prevent the patient from the contentment of the moment, which is where healing is possible. When the self walks into the ego’s trap, she finds herself in one of two artificial “places,” the past or the future, and often both. Those badly damaged in the past deal with immature emotions, because the ego keeps reminding her of her wounds. With such feelings, the self is then obsessed with what might be coming around the bend. She often rehearses (in her mind) the various scenarios imagined, so that she would be prepared in the event one of her possible scenes would actually occur. Like a baseball batter who’s been brushed back by the pitcher, he faces the next pitch with just a bit of trepidation. He’s, at least partially, expecting to get hit with the next one. The pitcher has the batter exactly where he wants him, just a little off. This is the same concept with the abuse victim. She’s waiting, planning even, that she’ll have the information necessary to know exactly when to duck. This is living in the future.

A self that’s been badly damaged is incapable of rightly judging the world around her, and this is just another way that the ego runs the show. And it can be quite a show, for the ego’s relationship with shame is a two-fold cord that is constantly at enmity with the self. Beginning with the innate sense of worthlessness that comes with the trauma, the patient believes that they are alone in their suffering, which leads to the disease known as Terminal Uniqueness. “There’s something wrong with me” is what manifests in the minds of trauma victims. This feeling is so strong — after all, normal people are lovable and happy, and things like this don’t happen to them — that the best she can do is hide it, and for that, she turns to the Little Professor for help. He does not, however, have her best interests in mind.

Craig Nakken writes in The Addictive Personality that suicide is actually a form of homicide in which the self finally destroys the ego (Nakken references the ego as “the addict”). This internal battle, therefore, can truly be fatal. In recovery, we have a saying that the mind can be a dangerous place, because we’re not alone in there. 

There is little doubt that the ego functions like the devil from the Bible, which was likely early humankind’s way of explaining the complex mechanizations of the human mind. When Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, satan,” he was more likely speaking to his own ego than some external creature with red skin, horns, and a pitchfork.

When preachers fall from grace, count on the ego of that person to be the source of the mischief. The same ego that led them into ministry as a way to escape feelings of unworthiness will pull the whole house down upon them sooner or later. The self of that minister may have genuine feelings in the service of others, but the pulpit has been chosen as a hiding place for the inferiority he actually believes he’s covering up. This person is constantly under stress, but, of course, he’s very good at hiding it until acting out seems the only reasonable response to his feelings. Humiliation is just one of the weapons of the ego. As British Evangelist and author John R. W. Stott expressed, “And they who fain would serve Thee best are conscious most of wrong within.” It’s an open door to behavior that acts out rather than deals with the history behind it.

The most powerful message that the ego brings to the self is one that denies the existence of the ego whatsoever. Science is the ego’s unaware partner here, because science simply isn’t equipped to deal with things that cannot be measured. Besides, the view presented here is too simple, and science “just knows” that it has to be more complex. We must remember, however, that science pursues a paycheck of some form, and complexity sells when approaching potential patients with treatment options. The extent to which we believe that science is “supreme,” is the degree to which we’ll deny human nature in the quest for wellness. Science presses our uniqueness. Recovery voices our sameness. It’s doubtful these two enemies will ever see things the same way.

The problem, of course, is that insurance will more readily pay for science, not this mushy, new-age kind of nonsense. It is a significant problem.

The victims of horrible abuse are mostly shunned by our culture. Firstly, victims don’t advertise their wounds as abuse. They move forward, always anxious for tomorrow, and this often appears to outsiders as “wallowing in self-pity” instead of putting their big girl pants on. The truth is that such victims are often highly sensitive when it comes to their skill at reading a room, for example, as a way to position themselves against those who likely won’t understand. We call many of these people “Empaths,” and they are legends in their own minds. They view their sensitivity as a gift in order to feel special, but this is simply another manifestation of the patient’s trauma response. People like this are a full-course meal for science in its unwillingness to explore such things, because they are almost always wrong or overly general in their analysis of what’s going on around them.

Empaths are usually approachable and friendly, so they make good healers, friend, and sounding boards for others, who are more interested in using empaths for self-gain than genuine friendship. Empaths are often overweight, having used eating as an addictive response to the trauma that they’re fleeing. Not all fat people, however, have mental issues, and they’re quick to defend themselves against such accusations. Overeating can be a very visible form of “sin” — a.k.a. gluttony — to those not trapped in a trauma response, and these sorts of judgments only make things worse for the patient.

We all want to feel special, and trauma victims are no different. Their specialness, however, Is laced with the poison of feeling utterly unlovable and different in a bad way. They blame themselves for what happened, and it’s through this door (the one labeled “shame”) that the ego makes its appearance.

The only cure for this of which I’m aware is the practice of deliberately making the effort to live in the moment, for the ego has great difficulty functioning outside the world of time and space, choosing instead to live in the pain of the past or the anxiety of tomorrow. This must come, unfortunately, as a revelation or an awakening, something science completely rejects.

Remember always that as long as he/she is trying to run your show, your ego is most definitely not your friend.

Those Satanic Democrats

ABC Family, No Matter What It Calls Itself, Can't Get Rid of Pat Robertson's  The 700 Club

My old boss Pat Robertson is using the latest Arab-Israeli conflict to threaten every person who doesn’t unilaterally support Israel with a curse from the Bible. Isn’t it amazing how fundamentalist Christianity uses threats of future harm as a way to manage its denizens into doing exactly what the Republican Party wants done today? Evangelicalism, at its very core, uses such fears to scare people into marching in lock step. It’s a clever ruse, because it doesn’t require proof other than its shared beliefs in interpreting the Bible.

Evangelicalism is the management of people via the threat of hell. Every pamphlet, every first contact with a sinner to “save” begins with the question of one’s future habitation. This way, you don’t have to address what’s happening to a person in the here and now. You’re doing them a favor by promising them a future in heaven. It’s how pro-lifers can dismiss what happens to all those babies after they’re born. They just don’t seem to matter, do they?

Dismissing the entire concept of grace, Robertson and his ilk have slid into legalism as their theological core. Do this, not that is the very definition of legalism within the faith, even though the Bible says “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” and “the just shall live by faith.”

Quoting from his broadcast of The 700 Club on Monday, Newsweek noted the political aspects of his screed in a piece called “Televangelist Pat Robertson Warns U.S. Will ‘Suffer Curse’ from God If Dems Don’t Support Israel

“Here’s what the Bible says in Genesis, talking about Abraham,” he (Pat Robertson) said, “ ‘I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families in the earth you shall be blessed.’ Genesis 12:3 NKJV. Now, I think the Jews have been God’s messengers. They have been entrusted with the oracles of God, and to see this rise of antisemitism which mirrors what was done in the Nazis… This is satanic.”

Robertson then named names, …calling out “Tlaib and the other members of the Squad,” meaning six young, left-leaning, POC members of Congress including Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Jamaal Bowman of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri.

“If the United States of America stopped supporting Israel…if you listen to what [the squad] is saying, and if the Democratic Party swings in that direction, and if the millennials lead America away from Israel, we as a nation will suffer the curse that God placed on those who would curse Abraham,” Robertson said.

To be clear, in the name of political expediency, Pat Robertson has just determined that the Democratic Party is the party of satan, thereby forbidding his followers from ever voting for Dems.

Zionism — to be factual, the geo-political base of the state of Israel — has carefully and systematically shifted the definition of antisemitism to now include unwillingness to be supportive of their plans, tactics, and goals. Israel is free to act in its own best interests with impunity and not those of its neighbors or even the whole region we call the Middle East.

Zionism is not Judaism, and they’re not even close.

Fundamentalist Christianity MUST support Israel, or its entire narrative crumbles. After all, its theology is based in the end times, and Israel’s resurrection in Canaan is their (Biblical) signal that Jesus is coming back soon. To deny the political nature of its Zionist government, however, is to turn a blind eye to real poverty, suffering, and death in the process of self-justification, and that, folks, is the total opposite of the commandment of Jesus to “love the Lord, ourselves, and our neighbors.”

Actor Jon Voight made a video that attempts to shame us all in the same direction. “How dare you attack the righteous souls of God’s highest truths,” he angrily chided those who stand against America’s $10 million-a-day gift to Israel, noting that Jews brought the concept of love into humanity, a claim that’s convenient but hardly true. There’s no love whatsoever in Israel for a Palestinian community it wishes would just go away.

Remember, friends, there’s a difference between freedom and license, for the former includes responsibilities to others, whereas license offers carte blanche in the acceptance and development of self-centeredness. Republicans deny their responsibilities as humans in favor of the most sinister form of selfishness ever brought forth on this planet.

Which one is God truly undergirding?

What Makes Us Think We’re So Special?

Snowflakes and avalanches | Science News for Students

The postmodern internet has given us many things, but nothing looms larger than the ability each of us has today to determine the persona with which we wish to represent ourselves online. We present ourselves in the best possible light, and that’s fine. The postmodern mantra of “I participate, therefore I understand” is something we now all have, and we’re really just beginning to learn what that means. There is simply no end to the possibilities for connected human beings. It’s the closest tool ever created that can match the threat that the Tower of Babel once posed, under the watchful eyes of God.

Today, what we say about our uniqueness is what matters, not what anybody else might think or say. We are the author of our own identity, which means nobody can challenge us, not really. Even a simple observation by a friend can be repudiated fairly in the name of one’s agency.

We are indeed entitled to create and manage our own agency online or IRL — and paying attention to this can reap great benefits. However, we’re not permitted to alter natural laws governing human behavior in the process. One can state all they wish, for example, that they “never get cold,” when in truth everybody gets cold. We shiver in the cold and when we have a fever, because we’re human. We make mistakes. We can’t help it, for that’s a part of being human, too. We resist governors that prevent the kind of license we seek to justify our behavior. We are in it for ourselves, when left to our own devices. “No, I’m not,” you say, but you really can’t help it. Survival is the most base instinct of all, and we can’t help but go there.

In fact, the farther we reach into this uniqueness in creating ourselves for distribution, the greater the likelihood we’ll paint ourselves into an unsalvageable corner sooner or later. Again, we can deny our humanity, but we will be responsible for so doing. This can be life or death stuff, for who doesn’t want to feel special?

Therefore, one of the greatest ills of our society in the postmodern era is the idea that we each are completely unique, and it’s getting worse.

In recovery, we call this concept “terminal uniqueness,” but it applies to all human beings, not just those who’ve come to realize they have a problem, one that’s compounded by presenting ourselves to ourselves as a unique entity within the species. Think about it for a moment. The word “unique” means “one of a kind.” Are you really one of a kind? I think not, and therein lies the difficulty. Another word for unique is alone. Think about that one for a minute. Utterly alone.

Our science will examine other animals to study their reactions to all sorts of stimuli, and those results are based on the reality that all mice are the same. Research subjects, regardless of their species, are always grouped accordingly, because a monkey is a monkey, and a squirrel is a squirrel. How is it that we can conclude that somehow the human animal is not subject to natural laws and therefore must be studied as complex individuals?

The real problem with this is that we feel free to skip over those commonalities that make us all the same, because we’d rather stand out by arguing how different we are. As my old psychiatrist Dinshaw Gagrat taught me long ago, “People are like snowflakes, Terry. All different but all still snowflakes.” So, this business of exploring our humanity might be far more important than we think.

In his marvelous series of books, Edward Bear (Marty Slattery) speaks to and for all of us when he makes the observations that humans are driven by certain common needs and fears. His Seven Deadly Needs are the Need to Know, Need to Be Right, Need to Get Even, Need to Look Good, Need to Judge, Need to Keep Score, and the Need to Control. This allows him to make general comments about human behavior, because we all — to one extent or another — have the same deadly needs. He also writes of our Seven Deadly Fears. They are Fear of Intimacy, Fear of the Unknown, Fear of Change, Fear of Rejection/Abandonment, Fear of Conflict/Anger/Confrontation, Fear of Becoming a Burden, and Fear of Dying. The reader can see what kind of unity is possible if we’d but agree that these are descriptive of the nature of being human. It’s also possible now to see what common good can be achieved with such a general understanding.

But what about the person who insists they have no fear of becoming a burden? Are we to argue with such? It may be useless, but it shouldn’t alter our overall perspective. Of course, there are exceptions, but we’ve built an entire culture on those exceptions and shunned the need to speak about ourselves as members of the human race. You want a total cultural makeover? Let’s begin here.

Religion is perhaps the greatest offender here, because religion offers a different spin on the nature of our beings. Trusting in God, for examples, means we “shouldn’t” have any of those fears, for God is our provider. He’s also the Meeter of our every need, so we don’t really need to be anxious about anything, nor are those deadly needs really all that deadly to us. We don’t fear death, because we know where we’re going. Etc. Etc. Right?

Wrong!

Nothing about our basic nature changes through religious experiences or “faith”. The Christian “born again” experience, for example, doesn’t actually change the nature of the human vessel. That would be impossible, and that’s not what it means anyway. There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking, positive confession, or any motivational tools that help people better live their lives. But, to build one’s entire life around such is to miss the real value of life, which is love, strength, courage, hopefulness, self-control, imagination, self-awareness, joy, justice, and mercy, Life rejects self-centeredness, which is the entire point.

If this were not true, then why is there so much manipulation of others built around religion’s very core? Why is it that the few can create and manage a narrative that allows people to believe that they are somehow special, and therefore, entitled to their special space within the culture? The few will always exploit human nature in maintaining their place at the top. Envy is never satisfied. Wealth produces discontent, because wealth has the resources to act on that discontent. The more discontent is addressed, the greater it grows. Rich people, it seems, are just as human as the rest of us.

We are all — every one of us — simply garden-variety human beings. Time and chance determine under-the-sun circumstances, which is why the comforts we deem as our “rights” are really just happenstance based on our environment and circumstances. There is truly no one “special” and yet, we all are special.

Like snowflakes. All different, yet all the same.

Deconstructing Life, A Series

When we awaken each morning, we do so from within the confines of life under the sun. By that I mean all the beauty, emotions, and grandeur of that which our animal senses provide. Unfortunately, it also binds us to this animal world, and rather than study what “might” lie beyond, we fix our attention on that which we can touch, taste, see, smell, and hear. The traveling of great distances all begin with our knowledge under the sun. Earth is the starting point, or so we believe. The mere suggestion of time travel is the stuff of science fiction, with its warp speed, jump drives, and time travel machines. All of it begins with the assumption that, as animals, we must develop our science around that animal experience.

One of the greatest revelations in my own life was the discovery that I am a spiritual being on a human (animal) journey, not a human being on a spiritual quest. I can’t make myself or ever be any more spiritual than I am today. This body of mine is the vehicle within which I live and move and have my being under the sun, as Ecclesiastes puts it. As such, I’m bound to a perspective of life as an intelligent animal, and time travel is limited to my imagination within that perspective. But, if I can allow my mind to wander, I find that a whole new world of rules apply, beginning with the filter that there are no rules, other than that which can only be understood from outside, beyond, or from deep within our animal experience.

This makes questions far more important than answers, because we know so little about the subject.

For example, in the Messianic Psalm 110, David writes: The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” It’s a very important Bible verse, because Melchizedek was a “priest of the most high God” in the book of Genesis, which is essentially the story of the birth of the Jews and their priesthood on behalf of Jehovah. Abraham encountered Melchizedek early in life and paid a tithe to him, thus validating his priesthood for all time as being greater than the priesthood of the Jews. Abraham’s son Levi was the head of the priests of the entire Jewish faith, and yet, his priesthood was lesser than that of Melchizedek. Why is that, and how is it so?

“You could say,” Paul notes in the New Testament, “that Levi himself paid a tithe to Melchizedek — while in Abraham’s bosom.” And, this not only validates the Psalm as Messianic but also raises some interesting logic for our consideration, namely that Levi, who hadn’t yet been born, was bound in his life to the deeds of his grandfather. For those who think only of life under the sun, this is impossible, for Levi was his own man, with his own agency, his own set of responsibilities, his own sense of time, and completely separate from his father.

And yet, we have evidence presented that Levi was present when Abraham paid the tithe to Melchizedek. So, if Levi was so bound, what can be said of the rest of us? Are we all subject to the actions of our roots? Are we then responsible? Do we carry forth in the shadow of our roots or are we actually guided by them? Was I there — in my father’s, grandfather’s, great-grandfather’s bosom — when he ruthlessly managed his slaves? Do I carry the mark as a slave owner? If we are to understand this correctly, the answer must be yes.

This is why it’s so preposterous to argue our terminal uniqueness. None of us are truly unique, because we are all human beings. Now, can we be unique in our view of life? Of course, but that view often attempts to escape roots we’d rather not be a part of them, and in so doing, we can make enormous mistakes.

Consider the new rage among us with the use of the word “agency.” The Urban Dictionary describes it this way: “The new hip word, meaning one realizes and uses their power to further their ends.” Basically, it means that you have tools available to develop and shape your own reality, and — here’s the important part — nobody else has a right to deny you your agency. What it really applies to is life under the sun, for your agency is lost the moment you try to separate yourself from everybody on a human level. That’s not possible, so even those who “identify” a certain way, may be setting themselves up for future disaster, because humans are more alike than different.

You’re entitled to create your own best version of yourself, but you have no right in stating that we must accept your agency. It doesn’t work that way, for your being has so very much in common with mine. This is a key part of the pathological fantasy that Donald Trump is living. We just can’t bring ourselves to believe his view of himself (and we don’t have to). Donald Trump is a garden-variety human being, just like the rest of us.

For most believers, time is a linear construct, one that is always moving forward, never backwards. For those with knowledge beyond the sun, however, time is fixed, and we are the ones who are moving. And, if time is a fixed construct, then time “travel” isn’t nearly so mysterious as we think. The problem we have is that we’re attempting to travel forwards or backwards from our lives under the sun. Why? So we can bring things back to use in positioning us for this life. We can’t help it; it’s our animal nature to be so.

Einstein proved that time is relative, and this is down to the cellular level. Each day for me as a 74-year old man moves at a speed that is much more rapid than when I was a young man of 18, for each day today represents 1/74 of my life, whereas at age 18, it was only 1/18 of my life. And while it moves quickly for me, that movement is different than all others, because time is fixed for everyone. Immortality under the sun is absurd, because such a person would burn and move at such a high rate as to be invisible.

Hence, spiritual truths like the above involving Melchizedek cannot be understood without knowledge that doesn’t exist under the sun. It must come from the world of the spirit.

If I’ve lived my life in the past, then I will live my life in the future. There. That was pretty simple, right? If I was there a thousand years into the past, then I’ll be there a thousand years from now. Time and distance are physical constructs within which human life exists. But it also exists outside these dimensions, beyond them, and within them simultaneously. This is Zoe life, the Life of God, eternal life, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God. Think of a portrait plane traveling left to right across a landscape plane. Only dead center of their connection is fixed. Everything else is moving.

And, it is to this Life that we must give our attention, if we are to grow as a species. The price is a high one, though. We must first possess a soft and giving heart, for the life of God flows from the source, through us, to the rest of the human race, and only then, beyond.

Religion fears sex above all, because sex threatens their logic by occupying all of our animal senses simultaneously. In this way, their thinking goes, it’s impossible to be connected with God when even such thoughts of sex occur. The animal is not the spiritual, they would have us believe.

However, the truth is that sex is one of the very few human sensual experiences that can actually do the opposite. By occupying all of the senses simultaneously, sex completely frees the spirit and the mind to fly to and from the source. There is no higher calling for animals than to reproduce. Throw in the deep spiritual connection available to humans during the act, and it’s also very high on a spiritual level. Our species has it so wrong here.

When we die, our spirits don’t really “go” anywhere. They simply return to occupy their place back within the whole of life, which then influences those living under the sun. It’s why evolution is undeniable, despite the insistence of some believers that we were made exactly the same as all those who’ve come before us. There is not a lot of logic in such a belief, because life is much too efficient to toss aside everything that a generation has brought to its table for dispersal among the population yet to come.

Evolution comes from a spirit filled with possibilities based on all that has gone before. Evolution is the result of the species learning, bringing that knowledge to life beyond the sun, sharing it widely, so that life in time brings it about. What do other animal species do with what they’ve learned? It’s imprinted forever in the life that governs all in the here and now.

Just because I leave life under the sun does not mean that I lose my ability to influence this life, because, for all practical purposes, I will be, indeed, still here. Just because your animal senses can’t detect me doesn’t mean that I’ve disappeared into nothingness. My thoughts and views are actually more influential beyond the sun, because of what I’ve learned and applied in my animal life, a life that requires marketing to the masses for influence to be counted. Influence coming from within the whole of life beyond the sun is lasting, because it speaks to the inner man instead of the outer man.

There ought to be an entire branch of science that investigates this, but science under the sun requires measurements that only exists under the sun. Therefore, it’s a useless enterprise.

When a baby breathes in life, she’s automatically entered into time and distance from an animal perspective. But, she also has the ability to access all that came before her and all that will come ahead, because this connectivity is what will determine life’s quality or quantity throughout her days under the sun. It’s hard to look upon a baby and see her potential as anything less than amazing. Parents can set her on the right path, but she will need to do her own living without outside interference.

Such interference is the curse of the wealthy, because discontent increases with opportunities for acting on it. We never learn the necessary lessons of humility and sacrifice absent the lack that encourages both. This is why every act of humankind is ultimately vanity.

Time and space are only for our animal selves, as is Maslow’s quest for self-actualization. In truth, we are all part of the vast resources that make up our planet, but life doesn’t begin or end there.

And that, my friends, is our hope, and the best way to prepare ourselves for that hope is to first align ourselves with it, then to consciously keep ourselves in the moment, and then finally try our best (it is the nature of human beings to be born with clay feet) to live in accordance with a new set of rules that begin with self-sacrifice.

To be continued…