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"God is mythology that we tell ourselves to make sense of the world and reinforce our self-importance."
I'm binge-watching The Handmaid's Tale at the moment and I'm so blown away by the human mind to conceive of potential alternative realities for us all. Margaret Atwood wrote it in 1985 and I cannot believe I didn't have the opportunity to read it until last year. With the current political and social systems eroding our human rights and dignities, Dystopian stories help us to imagine possible scenarios of our society and our place in it. Gilead is one of many dystopian futures which could potentially be real futures for all of us - with the assistance of the human ego.
We humans are capable of great passion, love, creativity and innovation and yet, we are also capable of great evil, control and hate. They are two sides to the same coin and the series of events that we are seeing now in Australia with the religious and political interference in the media could easily swing either way and force us down the dark roads of fascism and dictatorship or to a society where all life is valued. The American erosion of women's reproductive rights sets a dangerous precedent for the return to the suppression of women, who are only now starting to make great strides in equality.
But what is behind all of this? Is it about money? Control? Or is it something bigger? After the great yoga debacle of 2016 where my whole belief system came crumbling down, I have been in this state of, well, hollowness. It's a hollowness of faith and belief that feels empty without having something to fill the void. Religion fills that void for about 95% of human beings, and helps us to make sense of the world and our place in it. But ultimately, God is mythology that we tell ourselves to make sense of the world and reinforce our self-importance as the superior species.
Humans are just one of an approximate 8.7 BILLION known life forms on this planet. That means, for every single one of us, there is another species, plus more. How did we get to the point where WE think we are more important or valued than any of the other species here? If we look back into history, the Great Chain of Being was a massive IDEA to explain our existence which has influenced humans the past 2500 years - particularly in Western cultures. But it was an idea, first suggested by Plato. It was one man's idea about how to explain our place in the world.
We are still living with the consequences of that thought through racism, sexism, class systems and species extinction. The idea that an educated, wealthy MAN is superior to women, non-European humans, slaves, animals, plants, minerals and the Earth itself, is insanity. It's also an OLD idea that continues to affect the day-to-day lives of women, people of colour, animals and our ecosystem. That doesn't make it right. But the other thing that the chain of being does, is place "God" at the very top of the chain. A God, which, when you strip back the layers of ego, just doesn't exist. Of course, God serves a role, in helping people to have faith, hope, a sense of purpose and a feeling that we are somehow important - there's nothing wrong with that, it's good to feel purpose - unless it elevates us above another living being on this planet. That isn't God, it's human ego.
Which brings me back to the imagined realities; what if the way that we are currently living is an imagined reality that doesn't belong to us? What if we are just accepting the reality and regurgitating other people's ideas without actually having a single unique idea of our own? This was my truth when my yoga world came crumbling down. Yogic philosophy is somebody else's idea about the world, it's not mine.
It's far too scary to conceive of a world where there isn't some great creator watching over us, the alternative is horrifying - that we are alone and all we have is this little blue dot and the life on it. It makes sense that we have made up stories to help explain our existence; the stories give us comfort, faith, hope that we aren't alone. I too have been there.
With the impending ecological disaster facing our world, surely we can move past an idea that places all beings in a pyramid-style hierarchy. Surely, we need to be looking more to a world where we work with one another, with the environment and with the natural rhythms of the planet we inhabit and not some imagined reality, with the mythology of stories that we continue to tell that someone thought millennia ago?
©Alyssa Curtayne 2019
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