You regular readers might sense a theme in my “oeuvre,” (to use the latest silly fad word.) That theme would be, agony over the purpose of life. The poem in my last post is one of several where this is expressed. Next year I’ll mark three-quarters of a century on this planet and I still haven’t figured things out. Pretty pathetic, eh?
In our household, while growing up in the 50s, there was no instruction regarding religion. Because each of my parents, respectively had earlier suffered traumatic treatment from two different Protestant denominations, they were purposefully “unchurched,” so they left those matters up to my two younger brothers and me to “figure out” on our own. We were cut loose to drift without a rudder—theologically and philosophically speaking.
I suppose one might say we were also cast to the wolves of the entertainment media and the public school system to obtain our view of the world—both seen and unseen. In all fairness though, I must say that our parents, in their own way, tried to instill in us a sense of morality and a public consciousness. The phrase,”That’s not right,” was the tweak on our moral compass when they thought we had drifted off course. They portrayed things as either righteous or unrighteous. For example they declared theft, murder and lying to be unrighteous—of course—but without giving credit to the Judaeo-Christian canon from which they had osmotically obtained it while children. As far as we boys were concerned, all instances of human behavior and interaction were just innately right or wrong with no further explanation needed. “Why? There is no why, that’s just the way it is.” On the surface, their method must have worked: both my brothers and I are law-abiding citizens with a sense of social and familial responsibility. On a deeper level, however, there is still that big, unanswered, “WHY?”
Cut free from the pat answers about the origin and purpose of human life provided by our Western religious tradition, deprived of that sense of community received from a lifetime within the worship congregations of that tradition, I personally have experienced in my life, periods where I felt alienated from the mainstream of society. That thorough indoctrination into the concept of right-and-wrong may have contributed to this alienation by making the philosophy promulgated by the entertainment media and our liberal educational system just SEEM to have a basic wrong-ness to it. This has been recently compounded in my mind because both have deviated so much from the 1950s view of civilized behavior they both seemed to advocate at that time. Rather than focusing on the grander scheme of things—the big questions, our modern media and academia seem to be turned inward, now focusing on self-gratification—in matters of morality, philosophy, political thought and even art. The recent emphasis by our educational system on groundless and unwarranted “self-esteem” is just one example.
Last week I read an article online, in a respectable science blog, about a gathering opinion by some in the scientific community, that there is a “consciousness” in the universe itself. The article went on to explain that, those who are entertaining this theory are optimistic that it will be able to stand up to scientific testing. Imagine a brain as big as the universe. The article hinted that this universal consciousness is shared by man and other animals as well and perhaps with the proper skills or technology, the individual would be able to tap into this consciousness.
This theory seems a bit half-baked but also seems plausible. Could our concepts of a supreme being be based upon a few individuals who have already, in some rudimentary way, tapped into this universal mind? The thought of a universe bound together by intelligence, perhaps even a universal sense of right-and-wrong is tantalizing.
Here are recent articles about the subject from Scientific American and The Huffington Post.