Tag Archives: human condition

Resurrection Realization

With the knowledge that much of the world is celebrating a well known hero and his resurrection story today, I’m taking time to reflect upon the ways that we can apply the story to our lives, even if we don’t spend time in a church pew or singing holy hymns.

In Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s with a Thousand Faces” we learn that over the relatively short span of our existence, we humans have been really good at consistently telling the same story over and over and over again:  We are born, we face trials, we die and go through hell, we are resurrected.   Campbell says the archetypal steps of the story line give us inspiration for our own trials and tribulations:  Who doesn’t go through hell when a loved one is lost?  Who isn’t faced with guilt or shame when a divorce occurs?  How many of us come face to face with our dark selves in the caves of awareness and must wrestle our own demons there in order to escape?

Life is suffering. “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something.” Yet the human spirit is amazingly resilient and repeatedly has shown strength in the face of great adversity.  This is the miracle we can celebrate today – that we come out on the other side of our descent into hell.  We triumph over grief, we become better partners in our next relationship, we figure out ways to accept and then overcome our weaknesses. We resurrect ourselves, consistently and perpetually .

We echo this sentiment in our cultural story telling.  Our heroes endure isolation and hellish torture, overcome their adversaries, and are ultimately stronger than before. They provide inspiration to us as we go about our daily lives so that when we do endure suffering, we can have hope in the fact that if our heroes have made it out alive and more powerful, then so can we.

So even if we aren’t subscribed to the religion celebrating the hero story of the day, we can still reflect on our propensity as humans to muddle through whatever hell life might throw at us, and our ability to resurrect ourselves to live once more.  We can also be grateful for the strength and resiliency inherent in our spirits to do so.

Yours,

Frankie

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“Make it So”

I wrote a while back about the way that science fiction provides examples to us of what a world without religion looks like.   It’s an important point to think on since there’s quite a lot of hullaballoo surrounding the thought that atheists or agnostics can’t be nice or get along and are particularly evil so a future filled with such people is certainly vile, discordant, and unlivable.

Not so.  Many science fiction movies and television shows exemplify that humankind can actually thrive where religion is absent and reason prevails in it’s stead.  Is there evil?  Yep.  We can’t escape it because it is part of ourselves, but we do see in each instance that love or relationships or family overcome and save the day, and tellingly, no supreme being is needed.  (By the way, we really don’t know how else to write the story except that good always defeats evil – such an optimistic species).

With the release of the newest Star Trek movie, a fellow writer picked up on this theme and discusses it in this Atlantic article.   It is hopeful in this time of turbulence – especially as an American watching the current election cycle – to see a standard held for us all to claim:  we can rely on each other, as well as our own reasoning, to create a decent society.

May we ‘make it so.’

Yours,

Frankie

 


Bird Wise

The sparrow picks away at some wiggly delight in the yard.  The young morning is sweet with new light.  Work, already.

The natural wont for us to be busy.  Eons old, the compulsion can not be stifled. Fend for a living.

When is man happier than when he provides for his family?  When is woman more confident than when pursuing her passion?  Innate career goals.

I took a moment, a long quiet nurturing moment, to watch the scrub jay sitting in happy calm upon a fence post.   I learned  much.

The winged territorial animal just IS.   He seemed content within himself and his circumstance.  I thought.

Awareness has its drawbacks.  The jay is unconscious of the abstract. Free from its weight.

I released the stress that greeted my day.  Instead I simply saw the present.   Minuscule part of an infinite whole.

I sit and hear a robin perched high in a confident cedar.  Her song is cheerful, seductive.  I am reminded.

It is important to listen, just watch and observe.  Thus I feed the well waters of my soul. I enjoy.

She has no care! she will survive today and that is all that matters.   She sings, not knowing that I am moved.   I have my own song.

I will sing it.

 

 

 

 


Immortal

“You wish to live forever?

You want to be remembered?

You do not want your existence to be for naught?”

 

“That is right.  I do not know what happens when I die.

Immortality solves the problem.  I just don’t leave.”

 

“You misunderstand.  And greatly so.”

 

“What is there to understand.  I do not want to die.

It’s human nature.”

 

“It is never the physical body that lives on, no matter how advanced science becomes.

It  is always the body of work you leave behind:  your words and deeds, the contribution you make to society – whether positive or negative, the energy you choose to release into the world around you.”

 

A long moment of silence passed between them as the sage studied the stars and her student squirmed with thought.

 

“I get it.  I understand.  Immortality is more an idea than a tangible thing, not something seen so much as felt indirectly, perhaps for generations to come.  It’s something we can all achieve, if we are conscious of our work.”

“Precisely.  Now go, make your mark.”   The Immortal One got up from her sitting position, stretched her arms to the sky so the stars could reach down and pluck her back up to the heavens.

 

Her student laughed at the irony.   And then he admitted, contentedly at that, he was only human, but he would be immortal in his own way.

 


An Atheist Confesses

I do not pray.

I’ll take action instead.

If you are in need, I will give you my money, bring you a meal, or clean your house.

I do not pray.

I do not have a religious text.

Empathy and compassion dictate my behavior, keep me from wrong and hurting others.

I do not have a religious text.

I do not have a holy deity.

Mankind is my focus and energy.  Brothers and sisters by shared birth from mother nature, it is they who deserve all I have to give.

I do not have a holy deity.

I do not have a religion.

My foundation is on this earth, where time is short and goodness must needs win.   I will do my part.

I do not have a religion.

I do not pray.  I do not have a religious text  I do not have a holy deity. I do not have a religion.   I believe in our ability to do good and that we rise above the noise of evil in the process.  I am an atheist.  This is my confession.

 

 


The Doctor is My Hero

It’s Saturday which means I’m in for another new episode of Dr. Who.  I’m the kind of Whovian that has her DVR scheduled to record it  and my bestie is often over for dinners on Saturday nights to watch the newest episode with me (I’ve simply got to come up with a special dinner menu for the Christmas episode out of respect for the return of Professor River Song – it’s bad, I know).  In the long list of heroes we humans are so creative at inventing, the Doctor provides a modern day model for unrequited compassion and a dedication to justice so perfect that he tortures his own soul for his own shortcomings.

I’ll give a bit of background before I explain.   Working from the  foundation of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” beautiful book, the characters who have entertained and inspired over the millenniums all share similar traits.  Consider our modern day heroes such as Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter:  both come from meager beginnings yet they’re somehow tied and bound to the evil of their day.  Their personal bond with evil begins with some twist of childhood fate so that the rest of their lives are spent conquering the dark elements of the universe, always, always to overcome (we don’t know how to write the story any other way than to make sure good wills out – I love that about us).

badwolftardis

photo courtesy of rebloggy.com

The Doctor follows a similar plot line. His beginnings were marked with uncertainty and fear, and his path is wrought with a parallel evil that persistently challenges his patience, wit, compassion, and even causes him to question his own goodness and worth – as any decent villain should.  Yet.  He manages to overcome evil while facing his own shortcomings.  For a man who can nonchalantly say things such as “Time isn’t linear, it’s wibbly-wobbly, spacey waycey,” for a man who can hop in a machine and watch the moonrises of Jupiter, for a man who can feel all of time and space at once, The Doctor has made a decision to annhilate his own people, and this haunts him time and again.  He knows he’s had to choose between the few and the many, and he carries the guilt of the choosing.  But if there’s ever a chance to redeem himself, he seizes it without hesitation.   That’s why the Doctor is my hero: in spite of his omniscience, he’s all too human in his failings.   But even in the face of them, he chooses good over evil in the hopes that when balanced, the good is greater than the evil.  Such is the story of most of us, we should have confidence in that ;).

When the twelfth Doctor made one of his first appearances, he asks his assistant if she thought he was a good man.

“I don’t know.  But you try to be and I think that’s probably the whole point.”  The Doctor tries, he demonstrates that horrendous failings don’t have to define us, there is still good within our souls with which we can redeem ourselves.  That’s why he’s my hero.

Allonsy kids!

Frankie


No Religion: What’s to Believe In?

As we continue to progress as a species, more of us human beings are stepping from the dark archaic belief systems of religion to the bright confidence of knowledge afforded us by science.   But the shift from religion to non begs some questions:  What do we do with ourselves?  Where do we put our energy?  What’s to believe in? What becomes our focus?

From my humble perspective, it kind of seems that a default focus would be nationalism; belief in one’s nation and attention to its politics and social/economic issues.  From my humble perspective, we could use a boost in national attention to politics and social/economic issues.   But there lies a danger of jingoism, unabashed love for one’s country without regard for other nations, fervent almost blind belief that ‘my country is the best’.  In a time when we face global challenges such as health epidemics and climate change, we can’t really allow ourselves the pleasure of arrogance.  We must be able to cooperate, to admit that maybe another nation is doing something right and we might consider adjusting our own perceptions.  We are bound together by this planet and its natural laws, we have to work with one another in order to keep our species viable.  While some of our new found energy can and should be focused on national issues, it is necessary to strike a balance with how much energy we invest in our country – there are bigger ideas to focus on as well.

I heartily contend that the biggest idea should be humanism – a focus on mankind and our path of past, present, and future, our connection with one another as dictated by nature’s laws.  If we think about it, we only, always, have each other; and though cultures vary we cannot deny our bloodline and the truth that we are all brothers and sisters.  I believe we owe a certain amount of attention to our race based on this sole premise, with the spirit that we are inherently obligated as human beings to look out for our siblings. As mentioned above, our modern age forces us to examine physical global issues and international cooperation is paramount to finding solutions to these issues.   A humanist focus allows us to set aside cultural prejudices and adopt cooperative attitudes based upon the assumption that we’re all in this together.

Science appears to be the common ground for us all and I’ll assert that the growth of humanism will include many elements of the discipline.   Two plus two will always equal four and no matter where we go in the world we can speak that language to anyone. I am not claiming that science has all the answers although I’m close to agreeing with many modern thinkers who believe it does.  It certainly answers our questions best and provides a universal language with which we can speak to one another, culture set aside.   Besides providing a common language science provides a foundation for finding common solutions to the challenges we face together.  The discipline is a perfect fit with the tenants of humanism.

I’ll even go out on a limb and demonstrate that we already have a vision for the melding of science and humanism and how they work together by invoking the genre of science fiction film and writings.  There are several examples where science fiction has remarkably portended the future as far as gadgets and inventions are concerned.   Even George Orwell was prescient enough to understand that an entirely new language would evolve under political pressures.   Using science fiction as a barometer for the way humanistic tendencies might emerge, one finds an astonishing body of work that illustrates how political and even personal decisions are made based upon available evidence and facts instead of mystical, archaic texts. Pay attention next time you tune into Star Trek, or Dr. Who, or The Fifth Element.

We’ve come a long ways since the days when science and religion walked the same path of curiosity together, searching for answers to the same questions.   At some point their paths split and one has gone on to answer those questions with solid evidence.   As we continue to progress as a species and more of us also leave the anachronistic beliefs behind, we are faced with the necessity of filling the void.   Humanism does so with a neat and comfortable fit.  Here’s to our future and the place that Humanism has within it.

Yours,

Frankie


Being Human …..-ist

I describe myself as a ‘writer, thinker, humanist.’  The first two of these characteristics are inherent:  I have a passion for words, their meanings, and the limitless ways to combine them and my mind is ever questioning and curious. Being a humanist, however, took some thought.  It was a journey (a common one at that) from the myths and stories of religion to a broader understanding of my smallness in the universe, and the magic of human existence.  Somewhere along the way I fell in love with us, that is, I became a humanist.

 There is a lot to love about us I found.   Our actual existence is a feat worth mentioning for instance. Here we are, tucked away in some remote system, in one galaxy amongst a universe of zillions – and we manage to navigate our way to the top of the food chain where we’ve learned to manipulate Nature and escape our gravitational boundaries.   Our ability to walk upright, the refined development of our ‘pincer’ action (bringing together the thumb and the forefinger), and the emergence of a conscious have allowed us to plan, invent, and create like no other creature on this planet.  We’ve even managed to tame some parts of Nature order to improve our existence; horses, dogs, and agriculture for example.  We struggled through millions of years of ecological challenges in order to end up here – an immensely advanced animal.  Yeah, it’s easy to fall in love with a creature that displays such tenacity and willingness to push the boundaries.

Besides ‘just’ our existence, there are other reasons for my infatuation with humanity.  The resilience of the human spirit is an amazing trait.  Many of us have faced abuse, torture, illness, and injustice – yet we fight to live another day. Our ability to extend compassion is a rare attribute in the animal kingdom, and no animal manifests this more than us humans.  Every. Day. tales can be told of small kindnesses we share with each other:  one might help a complete stranger  retrieve a dropped something while another volunteers to babysit her best friend’s sick kid so she can go to work.  Our willingness to help one another is one of my favorite observations about us.  It gives me immense faith in our species.

Having faith in our fellow man is an integral part of being a humanist.  It is my opinion that we could use more faith in ourselves.  For some reason we seem reluctant to claim confidence in our ability to reason and do what is right. Maybe some of us haven’t fully realized our greatness within creation.  Many are still muddling around with the myths and tales of old, many of which convince us that we are inherently evil and have no redeeming value within ourselves – hard to be confident with that mindset.  The other issue is that such beliefs also insist that we deny ourselves any sense of confidence since to do so would be blasphemous against some higher being.  Yet, if we leave the old, stale narratives behind for just a minute we can observe in ourselves perhaps the finest innate characteristic of all:  we cannot help but ever come out on the side of right and good.  In all our stories, in all our movies, in the narrative of every single hero we’ve ever invented – good always overcomes evil.  Always.   We don’t know any other way to write the gig.  Sure evil has its moment, and sometimes we are led to a suspenseful scene when maybe all is lost.  But we never give up.  We never allow evil to win.  That’s why we can have faith in humanity, because we have a proven history of enabling right and good to prevail.  This is me, all doe eyed and love stupid, swept off my feet by our insistence that good always triumphs over evil.

Becoming a humanist was really quite an easy conclusion to reach.  We’ve come so far.  We’ve achieved so much.  We struggle through overwhelming circumstances and still come out victorious.   We support  and help one another.  We cannot even imagine a day when evil prevails.   I’d root for us any time, any where ….and that’s why I am a humanist.

Be Well!

Frankie


short story of the week

http://frankiewallace.tumblr.com/

‘trust’….trent is a doctoral student excited to interview one of his academic idols on the subject of parallel universes.  instead of the usual q & a session though, trent gets a life lesson that brings him peace.