I was worried writing the post directly before this one would be opening up a can of worms that requires a lot more time to explore and break it down. Just a pondering agnostic here, so don’t no one get it twisted. The metaphors that strike me as useful and descriptive I go ahead and borrow for my own purposes (or to expand on purposes introduced by others).
Let’s put it this way: The U.S., Great Britain, China, Russia, Israel, among other countries, all comprise the global System. This is the New Rome. Undoubtedly this isn’t a controversial claim. And most people alive today are rendered dependent on them in one way, shape, or form (especially us Americans since most of us barely know how to do anything to provide for our basic needs anymore aside from acquiring and waving around money).
How does the story end? Who knows? Don’t even know if it will end. What worries me isn’t an ending, it’s the trap humans find themselves in in recent times, particularly dating back over the last century. So much has changed so rapidly and on such a scale that the System created has overshadowed common people. Our power, both as individuals and as communities, has been trumped. We’re like birds in a cage with clipped wings. And what power people do possess is funneled by way of overhauled social customs and economic demands toward servicing the System somehow, some way. That is to say that people no longer work toward satisfying their own ends but rather service the ends of something bigger and stronger than ourselves and our communities. People have long been beasts of burden out of necessity, but the difference today is that much of the work undertaken isn’t honestly productive or fully within our own control. The slavemaster of old was Nature — the slavemasters of today are other people and the companies and institutions they are cloaked within. Our means of caring for ourselves is no longer a direct relationship with Nature or free exchange between people, but rather it’s filling positions like cogs within a wheel in order to earn enough money to pay companies to provide what we need and want. We can thank specialization for this radical overhaul in labor — a double-edged sword like most else.
What is “sin”? Besides being a word signifying a concept I’ve long shied away from—having so many quibbles over its interpretation that it would take a week to lay out my objections—I’ve come to understand it as representing that which winds up being life-negating and leads toward psychological chaos. So, in my view, it isn’t what a lot of people like to assume it is, or at least not for the reasons they claim. Very often parrot claims of what’s sin and what isn’t without considering the matter critically for themselves. And I do believe there are shades of grey there, most definitely — it’s rarely all or nothing when it comes to moral matters. Sin represents what does harm to us as individual persons and/or an honestly life-affirming way of life. What I mean by that isn’t simple to explain and I can see where different opinions on this matter can make sense despite conflicting, making it all the more clear that we’re not dealing with solid objective truths here. Different societies and communities operate in different ways, so naturally people can and will determine these things in ways that won’t prove compatible if all were suddenly jammed into one society (as we’re figuring out in our melting pot called the U.S.A.).
Does examining what’s logical always prove life-affirming? This I’ve been wondering a lot about in recent times, and I’m settling on the conclusion of “no.” Because an argument proves logical doesn’t imply it’s life-affirming or sane, as plenty of thought exercises bandied about out there suggest. Logic is another one of those amoral aspects of human thought. What is life-affirming very often is (or perhaps always is) logical (at least on one level or another), but all that is logically sound isn’t necessarily life-affirming nor is it guaranteed to be compatible with healthy human living.
For example, because the System does provide for many humans’ needs and has allowed for unprecedented population growth to the point where many (if not most) of us now depend on it in order to survive, it may be argued that maintaining this System is logical. However, if this way of life produced under this System is creating so much psychological distress to humans to where suicide rates and destructive impulses are on the rise and the vast majority experience feelings of depression and anxiety on a regular basis, not to mention the corruption inherent in such a System, can we reasonably consider it just and moral for humans to remain subjected to and dominated by it? And this is where people tend to say that it doesn’t matter either way since this is what we have and this is where we stand today, so get used to it.
If we’re unhappy enough that plenty of us complain daily, then that’s a sign that something has to give. And because the System itself won’t give, I expect more people will be the ones who wind up giving, in the form of suicide or mentally breaking down or growing extremely apathetic. And that leads to the psychological chaos I’m talking about. When power is obstructed from working toward honestly productive ends, it does not simply fade away — instead, it winds up diverted toward self-destructive and/or destructive ends. In short, power always seeks an outlet, and humans are creatures of power. This is a condition of our very nature at the core.
So, what do we do about it? I don’t know. But I suppose seeing it for what it is and examining what isn’t working is a step in the right direction of imagining what truly might work or at least allows us to consider our individual options in response.