Where are we running to?

Posted on November 6, 2006

We, one by one, have our own ideas. Some of these we communicate to others with ease, some are kept private. Why is this? Society has its own ideology, made up partly of the aggregate of all ideas and partly of the social need for certain ideas.

Many ideas we don’t know we have, but they dominate our lives. To us they are common sense. Accordingly, if some people don’t have these ideas, then they lack something and don’t contribute to society or reality. They ‘take’ from society rather than give. They are ‘stubborn’, they are ‘anti-social’. Where do these ‘normal’ ideas come from? Can we tell what they are?

It’s not easy to identify these ideas because our whole life so far has been played in the context of a society. If a society is a perfectly natural extension of reality, then these ideas are also natural. If society is unnatural, then these ideas too are unnatural.

Not to say that society is bad. Who are we to say so? We might not like war, infanticide, bullying, obesity and stupidity, drug addiction, domestic violence, murder, the race to the bottom line, the nine to five paper pushing farce or depleted uranium scattered from ammunition casing birth defects in high proportions of births, but who are we so say that these things are just not natural for human beings? Whose to say what human beings are, beyond what we can see in operation?

Let’s not make a moral judgement about society in its current form, lets just say that it has its ups and downs and is, well, practically inconvenient for some people and convenient for others.

I once saw a kid sitting up perfectly straight, with a tall spine, natural curves in his back and a level and upright head. He was sitting like the Japanese do in tea ceremonies, with legs together and weight evenly on knees and feet. His father came along and snapped ‘Ian, sit properly’, a request promptly followed.

What is it that made Ian’s father bypass all faculties of reasoning and intelligence to require his son to sit in cross-legged position, which because of the off balance centre of gravity encourages slouching and neck craning? I have a simple answer for you: he raises his child according to the demands of society and nothing else influences his mind. The habits society needs us to have are drilled into us from a young age, while any misfitting ideas are psychologically beaten out of us, however beneficial they are in reality (more on reality later).

This is not a secret! And there’s nothing wrong with it! This is the compromise we make for survival, and the survival of our kids! you say, after being shown why sitting cross-legged is in fact a vastly inferior way to sit. Don’t worry, the blame is not on you – you have been through the same process.

Ah, the supposed duality of life and death: the wondrous axe above our heads, dictating the course of our very existence. We are fear stricken and will do anything to keep economic failure away from us. After all, we see the results in not toeing the line all the time: people sleeping in cardboard boxes, smelly, stupefied. This, we warn ourselves, could be you.

Science, reason and all that other stone-set stuff that tells us in no uncertain terms that we are nothing more than complex combinations of physical matter. Life is a physiological process, a fluke of matter. Seeing as we have no ‘individual’ existence amongst the matter of the universe, it must be the very meaning of our existence, including all our psychological nuances, to play our part in the latest and greatest part of this unfolding fluke: the human race. And how is the human race kept going at the moment? Society.

This might not sound very pleasant to most of us. But it does explain a hell of a lot going on around us, mostly in other countries (thank… god?). It explains how we might plot the economic exploitation of others for our own profit, as if it were our natural right. It explains Ian and millions of kids like him having to sit a certain uncomfortable way, that soon becomes another part of normal life. It explains the Iraq war and the human sacrifice for ‘social’ order.

So: we are imbued with the necessary ideas our society is built on, to keep ourselves functioning in society; our ideas amalgamate to the social ideology of the day; the social ideology becomes the framework for the next generation to generate their own ideas; their ideas amalgamate into the social ideology of tomorrow. It sounds very much like a cyclical process caught in itself, a catch 22.

However this situation is only a catch 22 if all the ideas carried on are those decried by social norms. But there is a variable of imminent concern: the spiritual evolution or devolution of mankind. Ideas are not only changed by social need, but also by how spiritually or materially we view ourselves and others to be. Spirituality is the real variable in the evolution of society. What is spirituality? The belief that man is spirit first, body second. And thankfully this is no longer conjecture.