||[Jan. 19th, 2006|01:59 am]
|||||Rise Against - Swing Life Away||]|
Ahh, religion. So many people hate you, so many people abide by you.
There's a lesson to religion that nobody really realizes, even though it's preached in every sermon, written in every scripture, ground in with every lesson. It's a secret hidden in the open. It's known by all and understood by none.
It is amazing that men such as Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna could exist, that they truly had the courage to live as they did. The mystery and the awe of what they did for the world touches us all, yet we fail to learn from perhaps the most prime example of what they taught - all men can do as they have done.
I am not claiming or refuting the divinity of any of the figures listed. It makes no difference if they were deities or godly incarnations: they lived and died by human rules. If divine, they specifically chose to abide by the laws that govern men. They lived a human possibility, a path that any human could aspire to, if only they would shake out of their lethargy and step forward with the courage to live as our precursors have. Instead they have been pedestaled and made the object of admiration, adoration, adulation, simply for the sake of remembrance. We learn lessons from scriptures, from the morals and wisdom handed down over the ages, we take it in stride, yet never do we extend beyond seeing this way of life as anything more than a curiosity. Bystander apathy is gripping us all. We are too afraid to live the lives that this way offers us, to cast aside the problems of the self, to take on the sins and hurts of humanity and life at large. To become true stewards of the earth, of the people, of ourselves and our own lives and actions. We put on the masks of servitude and put on airs of being righteous and pious and humble and grateful and spiritual, but when left to our own devices, we are as selfish and as irreverent as ever. Each person assumes that if another is willing to be pious and righteous, then it would be easy enough to follow that living example and become the same way. Yet humanity is a seething mass of people shifting uneasily, waiting for someone else to take the first step.
Figures such as Jesus and Buddha are few and far between because people are too afraid of the unknown to move beyond the immediate realm of the senses and the self's ability to perceive and think. All people possess the fundamentally shared trait of consciousness, of unique perspective, yet this ability is poisoned by the bystander apathy, the lack of the impulse force to take action unasked for.
The timelessness of these figures is a result of the timelessness of their teachings. Many people achieve greatness, but their works hinge on the circumstances of the time. There was a demand for an understanding of projectile motion - Newton invented calculus. Germ theory laid the groundwork for Lister and Pasteur, Hegel begets Marx who begets Nietzsche. History follows many predictable patterns that anyone can ultimately fulfill. Yet a few men have done what all men can do, but that no men will do, because it requires a conscious choice and effort to accomplish. Political machinations make the specific cases more or less convenient and in some situations they make or break the rise of the teachings to widespread prominence - however, these teachers were never the pawns of history, but the players of a higher game, moving pieces on our board. We know their stories, we are aware of their accomplishments and teachings - why do we not seek out understanding of the lives they lived, to see things from their points of view?
The goal of prophets and messiahs is not to seek glory or to create a name that will last millenia. To live the life they live is to live alone, to live perpetually in a kind of despair, not because the quality of life enjoyed at this level of existence is sub-standard (on the contrary, it is far, far richer), but rather that such existence is unobtainable for the layman. All men "could" be loving towards their neighbors, cunning as serpents and innocent as doves, fully conscious and aware of their actions and the consequences, actualizing the true potential of being human, yet no men truly do this. Life is a deep well that mankind dips shallowly from, a fertile field in which only the same crops are grown over and over. Without the exploration of the full potential of our resources, without seeking out diversity and variety, we lose the drive to explore until eventually the idea that anything outside of the present state can exist is stamped out.
The ultimate respect we can pay to those we honor is to use what they taught, to truly synthesize their lessons and incorporate them into finding our own way. Mimicry is an abomination in this; the fixation is placed upon the person, not the things that were accomplished, and mimicry is an insult to the capacity of each and every human being to forge their own path through the darkness.
What is the payout? Perhaps nothing, perhaps a world of change. As with any gamble, the risks run high, but all you have to lose is your life, and that is something that was given to you free. It's ironic that we'll fight to preserve life when we're not sure of its meaning, without a clear idea of what it is that we're defending, except for basic instinct and gut feeling that it should be defended. History has shown us that messiahs and prophets do not always die natural deaths, but surely the lives they lived along the way is worth any cost, any sacrifice.
The summons have been issued. Will you step up to the challenge?