You know something I have never liked about Christmas? The emphasis on nostalgia.
Where is the gratitude for the present (such as has been robbed of Thanksgiving), or attention towards the future (equally robbed of New Year’s day)?
Should this not be a time when families appreciate just seeing one another show up, and congratulate one another for surviving yet another exhaustive year? If so, why do we spend so much time adding insult to injury?
Life is hard, especially if you are an adult, out on your own. And I imagine that, in a modern, first-world country—with a society divided at its very core through its celebration of independence of and hyper expression of individuality—this nation-sanctioned coming together that we do on Christmas day should be something of a morale boost, or a pep rally. Not a time to go around cutting one another down, or whining about why things cannot be like they were back in the “good old days”. We don’t live in the good old days. The “good old days” were never the good old days, for we whined about “the good old days” even back then. (Good and loyal consumers that we are, we can never be satisfied with what we have. Hah!)
No, let me explain to you just what the “good old days” really are:
Put plainly, they are little more than mental photographs of our lives suspended in our minds’ eye; still images that we photo shop; adding or exaggerating pleasantries; enhancing with impossible lighting; blurring out the petty fights; filtering out the inconvenient noise; cropping out those we no longer talk about; framing everything just so. But that is not reality.
Reality is often ugly. But accepting that allows us to deal with it. And if we deal with it can be build onto it; make something better of it. Forgive me for using another metaphor so soon but, I think it is better that we should consider ourselves as marble stone. And, like marble, life weathers us and wears us down. Yet we are also artists, and we can sculpt ourselves and one another. And since we cannot replace stone that has already been chipped away, it is best not to dwell on this loss, but to make the most of what remains. Likewise, even if the “good old days” really were so grand, they are gone now, and all that we can do is adapt. And sometimes we can make up for those gaps, and sometimes we can’t. The point is, we shouldn’t be tearing one another down. Life already does that to us anyway.
Anyways, I think you get my point even if these are poor metaphors. I hope yours is a happy Christmas. And it would please me if we all made it through the jump into the New Year.
Lately I have found myself struggling with individuality. Not mine, per se, but of others. Now, allow me to quickly dispel any notion that I’ve gone Communist on you, and explain myself, for a moment. You see, it’s not so much as individuality, as it is Individualism that I have a problem with: Individualism taken to an extreme, mutating into a cop-out philosophy of relativism that defends one’s selfishness as an expression of one’s being. That, now that is what I have problem with. And why? Because it writes off its opponents as “haters” (deeming them the immoral ones) for attacking their (the Individualists’) freedom of expression.
Anyhow, as this mindset is becoming increasingly more prevalent, I find it necessary to share with you my perspective on the Human Ego. But first, a fable often attributed to various Native American tribes that I believe echoes my sentiments quite well. It goes something like:
“An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life…
He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
One wolf is evil — he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego.
The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied: “The one you feed”.”
Right. Jolly good. Well said. Message received loud and clear. At least….I hope. And, if not, perhaps this explanation will help clear things up a bit. (Or muck it up. I really can’t be sure anymore.) In any case, it makes sense to me, as I wrote it:
It is my belief that the Ego is that remnant that we inherited from our hominid ancestors, prior to evolving into humans through the development of the conscience (i.e. the Human Spirit). Therefore, to cultivate it (the Human Ego) is to grow and develop that part of ourselves that is most beastly in nature. Yet doing so suffocates the Spirit, muffling its cries in the process.
Incidentally, I do not believe that Humanity is a given, but a delicate and slippery goal that we must always strive to grasp. And this can only be achieved by overcoming the compulsions of Ego. Should we abandon this goal, Ego would inevitably take over, and evolution would lead us back to a state of lower comprehension and revert to a beastly form.
And the beast is a short-lived creature, for it does not plan that far ahead—if at all—but satiates himself in the now; living his life on a day by day basis. To feed the Ego is to resign ourselves to this beastly lifestyle. In doing so, we surrender our autonomy as we become creatures of habit, either through routine, or compulsion to seek familiar comforts and pleasures; often with exceeding intensities. Such trains of thought are confining, and are what ultimately limit even similar beasts from attaining our levels of comprehension.
Thus, if we wish to be free, we must abandon the fallacies demanded of the Ego. That is, for those of us who appreciate our humanity for what it is. For those who don’t, please try to keep it down, as you rattle your cages in anxiety and despair? One may only feed you so many times before she or he grows weary of getting bit.
So, there you have it. My perspective on the Ego and Spirit in a nutshell which just so happens to embrace evolution. But I think it fits, and I hope you do too. Like last time, until next time, please feel free to rate, comment, and share.
Good night, for now! ^‿^
Date: 4th April, 2012
Place: Virtual world of Facebook.com
Activity: Friend posts photo of President Barack Obama with iconic quote
“If we can’t take pleasure and satisfaction in concretely helping middle-class families and working-class families save money, get a college education, get health care — if that’s not what we’re about, then we shouldn’t be in the business of politics. Then we’re no better than the other side. Because all we’re thinking about is whether or not we’re in power.”
-President Barack Obama
Me: “Was this before of after his inauguration?”
Friend: “I have asked before: Unless you have the knowledge and inside information to explain how this worldwide crisis might have been better handled, take your criticism without substantiation to another page. Thank you. Between now and November, if you have a candidate promising us a better way, please, bring it to our attention. I will walk door-to-door and give my time in the commons to talk to all that will listen. I just want the best available people serving at all levels of our government.”
Me: “I understand that. And I whole heartedly agree. However, I am a firm believer in holding our elected leaders to their words.
“It doesn’t matter who you vote for, once they’re in power, as sincere as you may want them to be, don’t trust them within an inch of your life, but hold a close watch on them. Hold a gun to their proverbial head if you have to, whatever you gotta do, just make sure they don’t go back on their word, and strike you from behind.
“I voted for Obama, and I will again. But he has already burned me so badly. After he gets his second chance this next term, expect me and others to belligerently pressure him to do the right thing. Too quickly is this nation losing it’s sovereignity and philosophical identity.
“We are a nation that believes in certain inalienable rights. And yet a grave trade-off is taking place as minorities gain recognition and long-due liberties, while the whole of us sacrifice the basic fundamentals such as those of privacy, freedom of speech, habeas corpus and many others.
“I will not stand idly by as promises are left unfulfilled and forgotten; and neither should you.”