By Frank Conerton
In Michael Strelcheck’s class “Winning the game of life” on Aug.25, we were discussing a book by an Australian teacher of Science of the Mind. The author wrote that all of humanity suffers from a feeling that something is inherently wrong with being human. This plays out in religion with the idea of original sin, or in cultures with ideas about shame or loss of honor.
The Ancient Wisdom teachings say that human ego’s arrogance provides a basis for this feeling that humanity is flawed. If we think we are the absolute best, always right, then how do we explain our constant failure or suffering? There must be either an inherent flaw or a superior being who is testing us in some way.
Tumbling these ideas around in my head, I noticed something different. You’ve probably heard the idea that history is written by the victors in a conflict. The victors become the good guys; the vanquished became the embodiment of all things bad. This is an example of a circular argument; the result defines the cause. The result colors the story to justify the outcome. Maybe the human story has been changed by later beliefs.
Here is a different human story. Ug and Og, two grumpy old guys of the tribe, were sitting around the fire complaining, as any grumpy old farts are apt to do. Og says, “Life used to be so good, so easy in the old days. When a woman was in heat, we had her and if we found food that wasn’t spoiled we ate it. Sleep at night, wander in the day. That was the good life.”
Ug grunted his agreement and added, ”All this new stuff the boss thinks up. It all means more work, day after day. Grubbing in the ground, collecting every single seed, it just isn’t natural.”
The next time the tribe gathered in celebration, Ug and Og were telling the story of their tribe. With Ug and Og’s attitude, the story changed to a long ago time when life was perfect. Then the tribe lived in abundance, peace and ease. Then one day someone thought of a way to plant seeds so there was more food. It worked, but the gods were angry. The gods said, “What, the food we provide isn’t good enough for you, isn’t enough for you?” The gods were angry and withdrew their support and life became hard.
Ug’s version morphed into a man sinning against the gods by choosing to do things differently. Of course the leaders of the tribe knew that there were so many people now they would often starve if they relied on simple gathering, so agriculture and herding were necessary for their life. Of course, sitting around the campfire at night, the most popular story, the one more people wanted to hear, was that the gods withdrew their support and now life is struggle and pain. Just like the kids wanted stories about ferocious lions or ravaging wolves rather than a story about the calf who grew up to provide milk and then meat for the tribe.
Modern politicians know that something becomes true if you repeat it often enough, with sincerity. Once the lie is accepted, then you only have to laugh or rage at anyone who questions it.