Sunday, July 31, 2005

Careful where you hitch your little red wagon

I have written of these current processes of
change that manifest themselves, in part, in
decentralizing social systems and behavior. But
many fear such changes, mainly because they have
so fervently identified themselves with
institutional systems that are now called into
question. Having attached themselves to such
abstractions out of unexplored habit, such people
begin to experience a sense of personal-identity
death: "if my sense of being is inextricably tied
to the nation-state, who will I become if that
institution should become extinct?"

If a person lives a centered life – in which his
or her beliefs and behavior are not in
contradiction, but reflect integrity – a
fundamental change in one’s life may be
inconvenient or even unpleasant, but it need not
be destructive of one’s sense of self. If, in the
words of Viktor Frankl, a person retains the
inner capacity "to choose one’s attitude in any
given set of circumstances," the opportunities
for survival are greatly enhanced.

But upon what basis does one make such a choice?
If one’s life has been dominated by external
forces that defined reality for such a person,
how does such a mind overcome its own
conditioning? This raises, anew, Heisenberg’s
"uncertainty principle": the mind that is being
observed is the same mind that is doing the
observing! Furthermore, if one’s sense of being
and reality have been defined by an institutional
order whose authority is now in retreat, if not
collapse, upon what source does that mind draw
for its wholeness?

I have a picture of all of those folks, whose Church
of Government has failed, being in a meeting
discussing what new church to institute as their
world comes crashing down around them. But maybe
their blessed world just dies without a whimper
and they never notice. They were in a meeting at
the time.

In any case, it'll be a comedian's feast, the show
of the millennium.

The whole essay.