The Disconnection Contagion

Be curious, not judgmental.

Walt Whitman

Well, I’ve had a few days to myself in complete solitude. Aside from the company of my two lovable pets, of course. This has given me some time to consider my relationship with socialization in general, and some of the unconscious fears or desires I may have tied up in that. I’ll be honest, I am struggling more than usual with this journal entry. I am stressing about the promise I made to post them to my blog unfiltered. What is the root of this stress? Perhaps social anxiety over how I may be judged.

For awhile I’ve been pretty back and forth on whether I’m struggling with a lack of personal autonomy or a fear of connection. It’s a dilemma, and there may be a bit of both in there. But fundamentally, I think we all have preferred survival styles or strategies for invisible trauma. Increasingly, I think mine is rooted in autonomy and subsequently affects my ability to connect. I strongly desire and attempt to reach people on a deeper level. The proverbial doors to my soul are wide open you could say, or at least willing to be open if I perceive a likewise open reception.

But that leads to another struggle. The lack of willingness from other people to connect on that same deep level. Both the hesitation to reveal themselves and, more importantly, the reluctance to fully receive another person’s being or soul with open-mindedness. Most people enter into social engagements with a sophisticated set of preconceived opinions or “lenses” obscuring their raw perception. This leads to the tendency to judge books by their cover, or people by the out-of-context details of the first impression they give.

These micro-judgements are ultimately inaccurate and limiting to the experience of who a person truly is at heart. And since these predetermined impressions are two-way, most conversations take the form of an ego dance, where both participants play the little roles they feel are expected of them. This back and forth of inauthenticity perpetuates itself. Human nature is simultaneously amusing and frustrating, is it not? The superficiality of most interactions is the ultimate inhibitor to the connection I desire.

Even as I know I fall into this pattern in my own way, I am quite sensitive to the ego dynamics of people. It is a very back-of-the-head, subconscious sort of thing. But it leaves me in anticipation of the judgment and subtle narrow-mindedness I am likely to notice. And it truly is subtle, and mostly innocent as well. Something so commonplace as to be unnoticeable to most people. But I guess my awareness or sensitivity creates the anticipation that causes my social anxiety. When you can practically see the shifting thought-patterns just by looking into a person’s eyes, it will give you anxiety too.

But here are some questions: Is the anticipation of judgement a self-fulfilling prophecy? Does it compel me to join in on the ego dance by overcompensating for the aspect of my persona or “experience” that I feel is about to be misinterpreted? Does that tendency result in inauthenticity? Does autonomy require staying true to yourself despite the risk of being misunderstood? Can you be fake by trying too hard to stay true? These are difficult questions. Welcome to the mind of a chronic self-inquirer.

Productive Disagreements

I recently had the pleasure of viewing a presentation (which I’ve shared below) called “Productive Disagreements: How to Have Civil Conversations,” lead by Dr. Terri Easley-Giraldo. Hosted by Janette Jasperson of the International Education Office at JCCC, this event provides a relevant discourse on the current polarized nature of our society, and discusses a way of navigating disagreements. The scope of this theme is global, transcending borders and nationalities, but also personal in nature. Within our individual lives, touched by the division of national politics, we frequently find ourselves in the midst of unproductive disagreements with those near to us. Dr. Terri Easley-Giraldo outlines several tactics and communication skills we can utilize to turn these into beneficial and enlightening forces for everyone involved.

By developing empathy and understanding toward others, we are laying the groundwork for a broader movement of global awareness. Humility is the antithesis of arrogance, and this quality is cultivated in our hearts through the willingness to be wrong about our convictions. Dr. Easley-Giraldo unveils the nature of the human mind to take shortcuts in order to more easily process information and deal with uncertainty. Unfortunately, these mental leaps or assumptions can result in “cognitive bias,” which is usually comprised of overgeneralized stereotypes that alter our judgement. The antidote to this unproductive habit involves turning our awareness inwards, establishing a foundation of respect, and giving others the benefit of the doubt. Compassion is catching, and the greater mission of global solidarity begins within ourselves.

One personal takeaway from this presentation is the realization that I am prone to conflict avoidance. What Easley-Giraldo refers to as “ruinous empathy” enables hidden disagreements to fester beneath the surface, with no outlet or means of reconciliation. I recognize that in my own life, I am likely to remain silent during moments where my input and sincerity would make a positive difference. This might maintain harmony for the moment, but a long-term consequence is the slow deterioration of the relationship. Instead, arguments can become opportunities to bridge the gap of misunderstanding, ultimately transforming the mode of communication into a style of “radical candor.” There is an illusion of separateness that facilitates our ignorance of others’ personal contexts, and within our excessively divisive culture, developing stronger communication skills is more important than ever. I hope everyone views this presentation and walks away a little more insightful.

Also read my relevant post, A Newfound Compassion.

Social Media and Religious Syncretism

In the article “What Effect Has the Internet Had on Religion?,” published in The Guardian, author Aleks Krotoski claims that the importance of the internet in everyday life has become a destabilizing force on traditional religion. In order to stay relevant, it’s argued, religious organizations have moved their services online in order to reach wider audiences. This has challenged the control that religious leaders once held over their followers, resulting in a growing amount of spiritual practices that fall between the cracks of what is considered mainstream. Krotoski states “. . . the web has helped proliferate different interpretations and articulations of religions and we have witnessed the emergence of new online communities and faiths. Individuals now have a much more autonomous role in deciding whom to approach as a source” (paragraph 8). I agree with the author’s main claims and further argue that the syncretization of spiritual beliefs is occurring directly due to the rising pluralism of religious groups on social media.

In chapter 16 of You May Ask Yourself by Dalton Conley, it’s stated that some sociologists believe in a sociostructural crisis in religion caused by pluralism, which is “the presence and engaged coexistence of numerous distinct groups in one society” (Conley). This increased diversity in religious groups is argued to be detrimental to the social foundation of religion, allowing for various denominations to discredit others’ practices. However, instead of the “religious disintegration, psychological malaise, and chaos” these sociologists predicted, we are faced with the modern emergence of individualized forms of spirituality, which borrow from multiple religions and incorporate a variety of traditions. As further stated in the chapter, “These “nones”—which make up about a quarter of the population, up from only a tenth in 1980 (Smith & Cooperman, 2016)—are not necessarily atheists. In fact, only a third definitively state that they do not believe in God (Pew Research Center, 2015b).” This phenomenon of rising eclecticism is directly attributable to the increased plurality in traditional religion, which I argue is enabled by the cross-pollinating forces of social media.

According to a study from 2016, published in Sociological Perspectives Vol. 59, the rapid adoption of social media has had a syncretizing effect on the religious beliefs of emerging adults. The study specifically found that “emerging adults who use SNS [social networking sites] are more likely to think it is acceptable to pick and choose their religious beliefs, and practice multiple religions independent of what their religious tradition teaches . . .” (page 818). This occurrence is due to the cross-pollination of new ideas and beliefs through the internet, recently facilitated by social networks. One of the author’s supported hypotheses states “SNS users will be more likely than non-SNS users to report that it is acceptable for a member of their own religious tradition to practice other religions” (page 830). These trendsetters in the study are indirectly acknowledging that at least some truths exist in other religions, confirming the effect of pluralism.

Does the advent of the internet and rise of social media mark the beginning of social breakdown in religion, or the collective transcendence of divisive traditions? I believe that both are occurring. As religious organizations increasingly utilize the internet to reach wider audiences, an ever-broadening degree of pluralism is arising. This is reflected in the emergence of individualized forms of spirituality that incorporate some form of belief in a higher power, yet do not affiliate with traditional denominations. As Krotoski concludes in her article “The search for answers is part of our social narrative and so it is unsurprising that we have gone to the web to ask the questions. There, we are finding our communities, whether they are organized under a traditional doctrine with well-established rituals, or are evolutions that have been produced by people who feel they have seen the light” (paragraph 11). I agree with the author’s main claims and further argue that the syncretization of spiritual beliefs is occurring directly due to the rising pluralism of religious groups on social media.

Works Cited:

“Chapter 16: Religion.” You May Ask Yourself: an Introduction to Thinking like a Sociologist, by Dalton Conley, W.W. Norton, 2019.

Krotoski, Aleks. “What Effect Has the Internet Had on Religion?” The Guardian, 16 Apr. 2011, www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/apr/17/untangling-web-aleks-krotoski-religion.  

McClure, Paul K. “Faith and Facebook in a Pluralistic Age: The Effects of Social Networking Sites on the Religious Beliefs of Emerging Adults.” Sociological Perspectives, vol. 59, no. 4, 2016, pp. 818–834. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26340183. Accessed 9 Nov. 2020.

Monocultural Hybridization

In the article “Can Monoculture Survive the Algorithm?,” published in Vox, author Kyle Chayka outlines two opposing concerns in the mass culture of entertainment. On one hand, digital streaming has resulted in a reduction of society’s ability to connect and relate through entertainment. The author states “The fear is that we exist in a fragmented realm of impenetrable niches and subcultures enabled by streaming media” (Chayka). The other concern is that social media and algorithmic recommendations in streaming are causing culture to become more similar than different. He further explains “We are worried that our digital niches cause a degree of homogenization, which the word monoculture is also used to describe” (Chayka). It is my opinion that these two seemingly irreconcilable concerns are interrelated and happening concurrently. I argue that mass media is both a homogenizing and fragmenting force on culture through a process of hybridization.

In chapter 3 of You May Ask Yourself by Dalton Conley, culture is described as “. . . both the technology by which humans have come to dominate nature and the belief systems, ideologies, and symbolic representations that constitute human existence” (Conley). As we are witnessing in the age of the internet, the technological impact on culture happens on a global scale. The rapid dissemination of media is only enhanced through the advent of streaming services, which optimize viewing time through the use of algorithmic recommendations. In contrast to linear television, the modern popularity of digital streaming has fragmented media consumption into various dichotomous categories, such as social vs. intimate and niche vs. mass, with much overlap. This indicates not a reduction but an evolution in monoculture. As Kyle Chayka states, “These are all forms of monoculture that don’t rely on an enforced, top-down sameness, but create sameness from the bottom up” (Chayka). Rather than monoculture being purely determined by the gatekeepers of traditional broadcast media, algorithmic homogenization is a rising influence.

In an academic journal from the University of Pennsylvania, the effects of globalization on culture through different forms of media were explored. The researcher outlined a more nuanced perspective on cultural imperialism, which is the idea that audiences across the globe are disproportionately affected by media from Western countries. This alternative perspective is cultural hybridity or hybridization, which “. . . does not give prominence to globalization as a homogenizing force, nor does it believe in localization as a resistive process opposed to globalization” (Kraidy). The process of hybridization involves mediation between different cultures, which in the example of media streaming, gives birth to the various subcultures of entertainment we have today. The study concludes “Consequently, the globalization of culture through the media is not a process of complete homogenization, but rather one where cohesion and fragmentation coexist” (Kraidy). Thus, I believe this process reconciles both concerns outlined in author Kyle Chayka’s article. The hybridization of monoculture has occurred through both the fragmentation of media consumption and the homogenizing forces of algorithmic recommendations.

Works Cited:

Chayka, Kyle. Can Monoculture Survive the Algorithm? 17 Dec. 2019, http://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/12/17/21024439/monoculture-algorithm-netflix-spotify. 

“Chapter 11: Health and Society.” You May Ask Yourself: an Introduction to Thinking like a Sociologist, by Dalton Conley, W.W. Norton, 2019.

Kraidy, Marwan M. “Globalization of Culture Through the Media.” ScholarlyCommons, 2002, repository.upenn.edu/asc_papers/325/?utm_source=repository.upenn.edu%2Fasc_papers%2F325. 

2020

The title of this post. Enough said.

In actuality, there are not enough words in all the tongues of the ages to describe the complexity of our collective experience this past year. We’ve witnessed a pandemic of globally disruptive proportions, political polarization, a hastening of economic stratification, and an overall fragmentation of social cohesion. The seeds of doubt and confusion have long been sown in the dirt of our society, but this year they sprouted. I am no prophet, but I foresee a spiritual reckoning on the horizon.

I am not going to explain my understanding of the fundamental dynamics concerning recent events. A large aspect of these circumstances involves cyclical patterns of civilization and consciousness that exist far outside our sphere of personal control. There is a “wave function” to the progression of this discord that naturally rises and falls. And we are all along for the ride. But alas, I am not here to elaborate on the metaphysical nature of reality. I will save that for a later dissection. I am here now to give a simple update on my life.

I feel guilty for saying that Covid has been a blessing in some ways. While the social disruption this year has made it harder for many to carry on with their productive lifestyles, it has enabled me to resume my academic career and integrate spirituality more consistently. The availability of online classes and normalization of social distancing has been a godsend. Serial misanthropes unite! (But six feet apart, for heaven’s sake)

My hiatus from social media has also been rather therapeutic. The Facebooks, Instagrams, and Twitters of the world play a role in hastening our polarization and subsequent fragmentation. I have not been entirely cut off from the pulse of the world, however. The shift in the zeitgeist or collective mood is palpable to even the most isolated of hermits, such as myself. In fact, I find it necessary to stay clear of the opinionated chatter to see the bigger picture more clearly. There are too many narrow outlooks and unexamined sentiments being propagated. People feel the unwarranted need to defend themselves against thoughtless and oversimplified opinions condensed in 280 characters. It’s easy to get lost in the muck.

As the year finally comes to a close, I look back appreciatively on the many realizations I have been gifted by the universe. While immersed in syncretistic research on Hindu cosmology, solar cycles, and cliodynamics, I’ve rediscovered my appreciation for the smaller details of truth and wellness. Characteristics such as kindness, compassion, and detachment. My heart has ever been influenced by Buddhism and original Theosophical teachings, and I now find myself a regular practitioner. It’s the nature of depression and anxiety to be frustrated by the lack of ability to control your own emotions. But meditation helps you accept the rhythms of your feelings with grace and also, with time and persistence, to balance them.

I plan on posting a multitude of mini-essays written for class this past semester. The topics range widely, but they are all sociologically relevant. A few of the issues discussed are races I normally choose not to have a horse in, but nevertheless obliged with a loosely held opinion. I will probably share links on Twitter, despite my healthy distance from that place. I hope you find some of these topics interesting! There might also be an update on the podcast front soon. Ideas have been stirring, and plans are brewing. We shall see what that entails.

A reminder to everyone that there is never such a thing as too much love or compassion. Even a misanthrope can abide by that. The only way to reestablish unity is by first embodying a greater degree of agreeableness within your own heart. We are all just trying to do our best, and we are each still ignorant in our own way. Have mercy on all sentient beings, including those whose opinions are diametrically opposed to your own. Sit down, and drink some tea.

A Newfound Compassion

As I look out upon the world, I am overcome by the strife that plagues humanity. I bear witness to the repeated acts of selfishness that are rooted in fundamental failures of communication. I see how our fallen species has lost its understanding of the most important universal truths. I gaze into the hearts of men and discern their villainous intentions. And yet, this dreary perception is not the whole story. Once your eyes have been opened to the ugliness and imperfection of this reality, it’s easy to experience a natural slide into dejection and cynicism. As one who is conscious of the rising jadedness in his heart, I am compelled to see the spiritual futility of such a perspective. There must be something I’ve missed — some greater understanding of all things — to give me hope for the future.

If a person’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you, it is because you are missing a part of their context. It’s that simple.” ~ Devon Price

The vast majority of misunderstanding in our world stems from the false perception that everyone thinks precisely like you. Familiarity with the variety of cognitive functions, and their many different ways of manifesting in the psyche, negates this perception. The morals and ethical beliefs that you keep rooted so deeply in your identity may not be applicable to another, and thinking so will merely give you false expectations of their behavior. No, we are all such beautifully multifaceted creatures. And while our fundamental similarities will always outweigh our differences, there is too much variety in the human makeup to hold everyone to a single set of standards.

“The one eye of the Godhead is blind, the one ear of the Godhead is deaf, the order of its being is crossed by chaos. So be patient with the crippledness of the world, and do not overvalue its consummate beauty.” ~ Carl Jung, Liber Novus

By staying conscious of this, you are naturally inclined to have a more open mind. By reminding yourself not to pass judgement too quickly, you can be open to the possibility that there is a valid reason why someone’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you. And this openness will only ever bring you closer to a person, fostering a much better understanding of who they are and a respect for their inherent uniqueness. Unless you’ve truly walked another’s life path, you will never know what it feels like to be them every day. You will never know all of the traumas and experiences that contribute to making them who they are. Ease up on your misinformed and rigid expectations of their behavior. You might find that this acceptance warms your heart as much as their own. This is the root of all compassion.

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” ~ Carl Jung

Every macro, societal, and cultural issue can be traced back to fundamental psychological causes. We are a collective consciousness. The many comprise the totality. The composition of underlying issues always manifests as a greater image of chaos and discord. From a purely macro perspective, this perceived chaos is what can engender cynicism and later nihilism in the soul. The greater, societal condition is merely a reflection of the internal, human condition. All of the world’s plights are natural consequences of spiritual and psychological failings. There is indeed a reason for the imperfection we witness in reality, and it’s from not realizing that this very same reality lives in each and every one of us. It results in a disastrous and heart wrenching lack of compassion.

“As above, so below; as within, so without.” ~ Hermes Trismegistus, Hermetic Corpus

The nature of reality and the shortcomings of humanity are both perceived and dictated by your perspective. You have the ability to make the biggest difference in the world by first making a difference in yourself. Instilling your way of looking at others with more acceptance and a broader mindset will let you better see the underlying machinations of the world at large. Open your heart to embrace the suffering of those around you, and understand that all the strife they’ve experienced made them who they are today. By truly staying conscious of the varied and multifaceted nature of the human condition, you create within yourself a newfound compassion for those whose hearts you previously judged without context.

Political Apathy and the Status Quo

Columbia, Missouri — With the recent midterm elections resulting in a voter turnout rate of only 36.4 percent, it’s becoming quite apparent that a plague of political apathy is taking the United States by storm. In fact, according to the New York Times Editorial Board, this has been the worst voter turnout in 72 years. With our leaders’ approval ratings plummeting, the American people may be beginning to feel that now, more than ever, their interests are simply not being represented.

CBS News recently released a report unveiling that the youth vote (ages 18-29) only represented a meager 13 percent of the national electorate this year. Historically speaking, a lower midterm voter turnout is usually expected in between presidential elections, however the lack of activism and interest among America’s youth was especially unprecedented this year. This underscores the growing divide between the few individuals on top of society enforcing major economic decisions and the remainder of the population that deals with the consequences of those decisions.

Some would argue that an increasing plethora of distractions is keeping the younger generations from finding much motivation to partake in the political system. According to Penelope Romero, a typical middle-class midwesterner, “these distractions [are] not allowing them to see the issues of reality.” Upon further inquiry, it was agreed that online media and social networking have become somewhat of an affliction to political awareness. Entertainment masquerading as “news media,” or what some call “infotainment” gives people, especially youth, a false sense of being on top of national issues.

The function of social networks is also heavily debated in the realm of politics. Penelope Romero continues to say that “They are very useful to political activism, and should continue to be used that way. You just can’t negate the fact that they are also major sources of distraction for today’s youth. The youth will not learn to look at what’s really happening in the political world unless the teachers show them. Who are the teachers? Parents, internet, TV, schools, etc?”

This opens up the question of what or who is the purest and most unbiased source of political knowledge available to incoming generations? Many will look to their preferred cable news network (i.e FOX, MSNBC, CNN), yet the increasingly partisan and idealogical lens through which stories are reported is not conducive to a pure political understanding. Some will unquestionably adopt the viewpoints of their parents and peers, yet how can this be any better if those opinions are founded on a basis of misinformation and rigid ideology?

Schools and Universities are little better. Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has discussed the influence of big money in colleges and the slow and steady shift of Universities to corporate business models. This also involves the indoctrination of youth to become ever more passive and apathetic to the unjust economics being thrust upon them. The most prominent method of indoctrination is the heavy burdening of student loan debt that an increasing number of youth are struggling with. This ties them securely into the capitalistic society and money-centered mentality. Chomsky continues to say that “…another technique of indoctrination is to cut back faculty-student contact: large classes, temporary teachers who are overburdened, who can barely survive on an adjunct salary. And since you don’t have any job security, you can’t build up a career, you can’t move on and get more. These are all techniques of discipline, indoctrination, and control.”

Indeed, the issue of procuring pure and unbiased political knowledge is a daunting task in the United States today. There are a few online publications that feature “alternative news” and several illuminated individuals devoted to spreading truth, however most of these sources are being put under the label of “radicalism” by those on top who wish to keep the populace indoctrinated and apathetic. So far, these methods have worked quite effectively in subduing the political activism of Americans, but when they haven’t, there is always voter suppression and gerrymandering to fall back on.

Beyond the superficial partisan squabbles of Democrat vs Republican or Liberal vs Conservative, there is an underlying trend of misinformation and pure, unabashed ignorance within today’s youth. This indoctrination is all that the younger generations have ever known, and so it is unlikely to be questioned or scrutinized in any broad sense. However, there is hope. Every now now then a movement springs up that could be considered truly populist in nature, such the Occupy Wall Street movement fighting for economic equality. Even in a society where critical thinking and individual thought are happily traded for a herd mentality and the bliss of obedience, there is still something moderately functional in our conscience. Something that speaks loudly when an injustice is brought to light. It is up to those who are brave enough to question the status quo to drag those injustices, kicking and screaming, out of the shadows where they can be seen by all for what they truly are.

To quote from Apple: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them. Disagree with them. Glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Special thanks to Penelope Romero for consenting to an interview for the inclusion of quotes in this article. Your input was very much appreciated.

Works Cited:

“The Young Voter Turnout in 2014.” <i>CBSNews</i>. CBS Interactive. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. &lt;http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-young-voter-turnout-in-2014/&gt;.

Stableford, Dylan. “Voter Turnout for 2014 Midterms Worst in 72 Years.” <i>Yahoo! News</i>. Yahoo!, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. &lt;http://news.yahoo.com/voter-turnout-2014-midterms-worst-in-72-years-143406756.html&gt;.

“Political Apathy Threatens Our Nation.” <i>The Nation</i>. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. &lt;http://www.thenation.com/blog/176252/political-apathy-threatens-our-nation&gt;.

Edwards, Dennis. “POLITICAL APATHY AND THE YOUTH VOTE: A SURVEY OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS.” <i>POLITICAL APATHY AND THE YOUTH VOTE: A SURVEY OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS</i>. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. &lt;https://www.coastal.edu/business/cbj/pdfs/articles/spring2005/edwards.pdf&gt;.

“Jacobin.” <i>Jacobin The Death of American Universities Comments</i>. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. &lt;https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/03/the-death-of-american-universities/&gt;.

The (Un) Discovered Country

There was once a Mother and her many children. Together, they lived and coexisted in a large and frightening world. In the beginning, there was only love and appreciation in their relationship. The Mother provided for her children by growing crops and raising animals. In turn, the children were charged with harvesting the crops, domesticating the animals, and above all, loving their Mother. Throughout many great epochs, this system worked and flourished. The children toiled happily to build a life and the Mother provided everything she could give.

Eventually a time came when some of the children wanted more from their Mother. They worked harder in order to prove their worth, and the Mother provided even more. However, She told them, “I am growing old, my children, and I must have your care in order to keep providing. I must have your love, cooperation, and peaceful intentions.”

For a time, the children heeded Her wish. They cared for their Mother’s well-being and reaped the fruits of their labor. However, this system couldn’t last forever. Several of the children wished they could have even more, at the expense of their siblings. They wished to grow strong and powerful. The Mother did not approve.

And so the time came when these few children asked their gracious Mother for more, once again, in order to fuel a war against their brothers and sisters. As sad as She was, the Mother could not deny Her children what they needed. She provided resources such as iron, steel, and uranium. What could these harsh materials ever be used for? The Mother labored at the coercion of her many children and slowly grew weak with each newly unearthed resource.

And so the war began. The children, for all of their self-justified reasons, were killing each other. The Mother weeped for Her losses, and struggled to keep providing. The children were intent on destroying each other, and She was slowly beginning to grow tired of watching the madness. Her faculties were becoming old and worn out. But still, She continued to love. When the war ended, and the remaining children were few and far between, they appealed to their Mother once again. The bloodshed had left them in far worse shape than they ever could have imagined. This time, they wanted food, water, and peace.

The Mother knew that She could provide little in Her terrible state, and least of all peace. This last request was one that the children must discover on their own. And so She whispered again, deep in Her throes of agony, “Even though I am ravaged, torn, and abused, I will always provide for my children. There is a country where you can find sustenance and joy. No matter how destroyed I have become, this country will always exist. It lies not in front of your eyes, my children, but in your hearts. The voyage to this place requires facing your inner fears and imperfections. It is the true voyage of self-discovery. It is a microcosm of greater possibilities.”

The children weeped for their Mother and regretted their foolish behavior. They watched as She slowly withered and could only provide less and less. They were to blame, the children who failed to provide love and nurturing. Distraught, they ceased any standing quarrels and made a vow. They would no longer wage meaningless wars against each other. They would dedicate themselves to their Mother and to finding this undiscovered country of hope and peace.

Why do we live in such madness?