Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
Long ago, my sister had a toy robot that could walk. Walking was a big deal for toys back then, and we all watched in awe as the toy whirred and buzzed across the floor—only to come up against a wall. If we didn’t intervene, he kept walking, pointlessly because he could no longer advance, until his batteries died. Boring.
Institutions, “…an established law or custom or practice”—were begun to organize huge tasks such as governing, educating, worshiping, or policing. They were meant to bring efficiency, fairness, and effectiveness to those tasks. But institutions are difficult to change once they begin whirring across the floor. They may run into a wall, but they keep right on walking in place. Instead of jumping up to adjust them, we wait until our batteries are almost dead. We pretend that a robot stuck against a wall can do no harm.
Recently, we’ve become fascinated with monsters—especially those that feed off the living. There’s something cathartic about watching vampires or aliens or zombies eat the stupid human population. Maybe we’re acting out our deepest unnamed fears—our fears that our institutions are not merely boring, but they’re eating our souls alive. Maybe we need to think about that possibility just a little longer and more deeply.
People are killing people as I write. Human beings who were genetically designed to cooperate blow one another to bits. People sworn to “…love one another” can’t wait to shove lost children aside because “they aren’t us” or persecute those who behave “incorrectly.” I had an associate who was ostracized by his church—which included his biological family––for failing to ask permission to marry a woman before he did it. He was pushed to the brink of suicide to maintain a church rule. I had a friend who was told by her school that, according to her test scores, she was already working “above capacity” so they couldn’t possibly allow her to attempt a more challenging class. Teachers are assured that a percentage of their students must fail to prove the curriculum is “rigorous” and worthy of funding. Our political parties trample our trust in order to gain control. Some scientists and journalists may abandon their missions of revealing raw truth for…what? Money…which is supposed to be a path to Control. (The documentary HAPPY [available on DVD] explained that there is no appreciable difference in happiness between those who earn $50,000 and can meet their needs and those who make $50,000,000—yes, fifty million dollars. No difference.)
I’m just wondering if the Devil, Satan, or whatever you choose to call the Essence of Evil, might not be the easily identifiable red guy with the horns or some swarthy dude in a blue turban. What if our Anti-Christ (or anti-any other true religious leader) is Control? A seductive urge to control helps us to forget our finer instincts. Instead of cooperating, we compete. When we compete, only one person, idea, or country can win. Everyone else loses. And losers can swell with resentment. Their answer? Seize control and do unto others before they can do unto you again. Bad cycle. No happiness.
Maybe it’s time we measured our institutions against our deepest values. Who are we following, after all?