Wednesday, June 15, 2011

World View Essay... just for fun

I wrote this a few months ago for my anthropology class and figured that some in the world might like to read it.

My World View

What do you believe? Sounds like a simple question, right? That is, until you realize how deep a question that really is and how far into yourself you have to look in order to answer it effectively. My mind has been coming back to this basic question often, and I decided that in order to figure out exactly what it is I do believe, I had to break down all of it. I went down to the very basics; the roots; the things that define me and stay with me consistently throughout my life. Once I had a clean canvas to start from, I started to build up three main points of my beliefs: deity, spirituality vs. religion, and civilization vs. wildness.

The first thing I needed to figure out was the religious/spiritual aspect of belief. I started with the beginning: creationism vs. evolutionary theory. I decided that I definitely believe in a higher power; a Great Spirit, if you will. Then, I thought “do I believe in the God of my parents?” and looked into that. My father is what I like to call a “Traditional Judeo-Christian Hypocrite” in that he attends church on a regular basis and spews religious doctrine at anyone who will listen, all in an effort to make himself look good. Though I don’t think he’s deliberately malicious- just understandably mentally unhinged- I definitely don’t want to be like him. My mother is more spiritual than religious- something that I really respect about her- but she has some rather strange ideas about the origins of life. They concern aliens, and that’s all I have to say on that matter. My father’s family isn’t exactly Lutheran, but quite close. And my mother’s family isn’t exactly Wiccan/Pagan, but more of a Christian-Jewish-Witch-transcendental mix, with some decidedly scientific qualities. So, with such an interesting religious background to draw from, I was thoroughly confused to say the least. I really examined myself on a deep level to answer this particular question, asking myself some uncomfortable things and even having a breakdown or two. There are certain parts of myself that I have spent a great deal of my life trying to get away from. So many people I care about would not approve of these parts and for a while I tried not to approve of them either. I realize this sounds like a segue into “coming out”, but trust me it isn’t. My mother’s side of the family has a long history of interest in witchcraft, the paranormal, and astrology. I have always gone to church and heard the Bible and felt that there was something missing. I see so many things in the religion that I was told was “the only right religion” from such a young age, that I honestly have trouble agreeing with and believing. It’s not a matter of faith- I have tons of faith in a lot of things- it’s a matter of values: my values. My values are puzzle pieces that will not fit into the religious puzzle. Any religious puzzle, not just Christianity. For me, for anything to really work it has to have balance, and where is the balance in the primary religions in the world? I believe that for a spiritual belief system to be balanced there must be female and male aspects. A God and a Goddess. And why can’t that fit in with monotheism? Christianity tells us that there is a divine Trinity- three aspects of one God. Separate and together. If God can be His own son and father, why can’t He be his own wife and Her own husband, too? Is that just too weird to comprehend? Or maybe my mom is right and they are separate, I don’t see anything wrong with that. To put an extremely complex topic into a relatively short paper, I’ll say simply that I believe that there must be a God and Goddess, that all of nature has a spirit, and that I share a lot of the beliefs of ancient Celtic Paganism- such as ideas about a fertility Goddess, sacredness in the Earth, and many other things. The biggest thing that I spent a long time trying to escape in life was magic. I believe in magic. I do not believe that witches are evil. And that has always been the thing that I couldn’t reconcile with Christianity and the “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” mentality.

On a similar but not the same topic, I also feel very strongly about spirituality being more substantive than religion. I think that spirituality holds more weight and that it tends to mean more. In my experience, God seems to mean more to spiritual people than to religious people. “Religious people” go to church to erase their sins and to feel better about themselves. “Spiritual people” go to church- or don’t- to feel closer to that deeper meaning of life, to feel closer to that higher power, and they tend to be less materialistic and judgmental. I don’t want to feel like praying, like talking to God, is an obligation- I want to want to talk to God. I don’t want my father to constantly be on my back to go to church because I won’t be saved if I don’t go, because I don’t think that’s true at all. I believe that God- or Goddess, or Great Spirit or whoever or whatever that power over us is- will forgive me for not giving into the institution that is organized religion. I believe that when I stand on the beach by the lake, pondering the meaning of life, and a gentle breeze stirs it’s nature telling me that it agrees. And that when I lose myself in the forest there is deeper meaning to it than just simply being lost in the woods, like it means something profound and metaphoric, like by losing myself I’m finding something more.

The last thing I wanted to write about was wildness and animal instinct versus civilization, and my convoluted ideas on that matter. Humans are animals with instincts and weaknesses just like every other animal, but the most distinguishing characteristic that humans do not share with other species is the absolute obsession with escaping those animal instincts and weaknesses. People want to feel special, like we’re better than other animals. But why are we the best? Because we can build cars and atomic bombs and we live in cramped cities and many of us live in consumer-driven economically successful societies? Those are surely shallow and ridiculous things to measure our success and evolutionary progress by! I once told a few classmates that I think that dolphins are smarter than humans, and they were so offended! They made comments along the lines of: “yeah, well, when I see a dolphin make a computer then maybe I’ll believe that” or “when I see a dolphin drive a car I’ll think about that a little more seriously”. I couldn’t really accept their refuting arguments as adequate and told them that maybe the reason that dolphins don’t have computers and cars is because- other than the obvious physical restrictions- they are smarter, and know the possible problems that computers and cars could bring them. My classmates just laughed at me. I didn’t care. The point of this anecdote is simply to illustrate that most humans are incapable of even entertaining the notion that other species could possibly be anywhere near as important as they are and that all life is sacred. Civilization at its most basic root is just the attempt by people to further distance themselves from the wild, because they are afraid of it, intimidated by it. Modern humans- with the exception of mountain men and a few others- have evolved into helpless children that, should civilization as we know it crumble, would be left utterly defenseless. I look around at the paved roads and skyscraping buildings filling this fair country and am struck by how completely different from the rest of the animal kingdom humans appear to be from the outside. But on a deeper level, at the basis of existence we are not so different that we should rule this world while we limit other animals to culturally acceptable places and force them into fear and submission. I may sound like a ranting hippie, but honestly I’ve just been trying to break free of the bonds of societal ideas and form my own which is extremely taxing. This is where the convolution comes in. I sometimes wish that I could escape this place and go live in New York or somewhere that I could be surrounded by things to do, because I have this crazy thing with freedom and options and feeling trapped. Of course, New York is just about the paved road and skyscraper capitol of the United States, so how can I want to live there if I see that it is full of things that I see as the downfall of American culture and most of the human species? Who knows? Other times I just want to live alone in the forest, living with the Earth and no one else, bathing in a clear creek, and being completely self-sufficient. I never think that I’d be bored with that, but I’m often bored to the point of depression in the middle of the two extremes because I’m just an extreme person, I guess. I honestly can’t tell you how I will ever be able to reconcile the two extremes in myself that I have mentioned in this paper or the opposing viewpoints of the two different sides of my family. But maybe that’s the point of being human: being a contradiction not only to the nature of what we were born to be and what we are shaped into by our culture, but also to ourselves, and spending our entire existence trying to come to terms with the crazy fact that the magnetic poles of who we are as individuals must- by their very nature as polar opposites- be on opposing ends of our personal worlds.

There is no one “right way” to do anything, there are many. The Earth is an example of this phenomenon. The Earth is full of people who are nothing like each other and other animals who are nothing like each other and nothing like us. We are all individual; no one being believes exactly the same thing as another. This world is full of so many different ideas and beliefs that how can anyone ever think that they are the only one who is right? This paper cannot hold my beliefs. No one will ever understand my beliefs completely, and I will never understand theirs completely, because something that complex cannot be confined to something so simple as ink and paper, nor can it be fully expressed through words in any medium. I can only ever hope to do my very best to understand my own ideas as completely as possible; I can only try to understand myself and strive to understand others as much as humanly possible and accept that they are right, as much as I am right.

Thanks for reading! I really enjoyed writing it and thought that by posting it, maybe it could inspire... something in someone out there, or something... or maybe my readers will understand me a little better after reading it. Haha! I know that can be difficult! I am a mystery even to myself...

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