Finding Lessons in The Lord of the Flies
[Nyerges is the editor of Wilderness Way magazine, and author of "How to Survive Anywhere," and other books. For more information about classes and books, go to www.ChristopherNyerges.com or Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041]
Several of us were sitting around a table at Swork in Eagle Rock, drinking coffee, and discussing the problems of today’s world. We were discussing the challenges that parents have with out-of-control children, the Iraq war, terrorism, and other issues.
We began our discussion by analyzing two somewhat misleading questions often asked by Sunday morning pundits: One, why does God allow all the trouble and evil in the world? And Two, will we ever experience a world in harmony, in peace?
The first question is easy to deal with. God has nothing to do with the trouble in the world.
Period. Why do we blame God (or Universal Consciousness, or whatever we call God) for the results of our own ignorance and hypocrisy and preferences? We are agents of free will, are we not? We are the architects of our future, though most of us create our future in a willy-nilly, accidental way, not realizing that every inner secret choice and desire, and every word spoken, and every action, is creating destiny and the "future." But we choose to pretend that this is not so, and when we experience the worst nightmares of our own making, we blame God. As Fred Renich wrote, "We must become increasingly aware of our ever present tendency to use the mercy of a loving God, and his readiness to forgive, as an excuse for careless living."
Question Two is a little harder. Will there ever be peace on earth? Not just cessation of hostilities, but actual harmony among nations and people, and mutual respect that creates an environment of growth (inner and outer), real prosperity, and upliftment.
To answer this question, we have to ask ourselves, What is the obstacle to this harmony? Perhaps the best way to get a handle on this question is to look at all the ways in our own personal lives where disharmony exists. In our relationships, among our work peers, among our family members, among neighbors, among the differing members of our community.
All too often, we find that our problems are caused because we choose to think limbically, we make choices subjectively, based on who we like, and preferences to my family, my people, my religion. We have not been taught or trained to focus upon universal principles or objective reality. If we make decisions in familial or group disputes simply by choosing my side, my group, my religion, rather than upon what is objectively right, then we foster disharmony.
It is nearly always wrong to have a blind adherence to defending "my group." I strongly recommend you read and study Eric Hoffer’s classic book "True Believer."
And this is where the way we train our children to think comes in. If we have been trained to "take sides," and "defend my family" and to filter all our judgements through subjective ideas, we become inept as community and national leaders. If we rise to national leadership with all our preconceptions about other people, we become part of the problem. We become Democrats or Republicans, believing our side is right and the other is wrong. We become Sunni or Shia, knowing we are right and the other is wrong. We think as black or white or brown or red, and we believe that the others are wrong. We think as Catholic or Protestant and consider the other beliefs wrong. Etc.
It is our very belief that keeps us in our limbic brain, thinking primitively, mentally residing in a Dark Age.
It is not as if "answers" are not abundant. But we filter the answers through our subjective minds, and the typical human response is to kill off, imprison, marginalize, or ridicule to obscurity all the world’s great answer-givers.
Perhaps the greatest "answer" to the many problems of human existence is the command to Love your neighbor as yourself. Or, the command to do unto others as you’d have them do to you.
Will there ever be harmony on earth? Must the human condition continue to worsen? Perhaps it is time to think about saving and improving our self, and being less concerned about "saving the world."
As his sipped the last of his coffee, and looked out the window at the cars racing by on Eagle Rock Blvd., one member of our group, Gary, said that each and every one of us is like the boys stranded on the island in Lord of the Flies. In each moment of our daily life, we make choices. We can choose to be uplifted and civilized, or we can choose animalistic anarchistic choices. Each choice, and the consequences of those choices, creates the reality we live in. And in that sense, we are each the architects of our future. Once we find harmony within, there will be hope that there can be harmony in the world.