We Built God
You can’t consume much if you sit still and read books.
That is why meditation is not talked about much in the Western World. In the days of the Mayflower, we fled religious persecution to come to America, yet now we have largely forgotten our God and religion. Some still practice but the country seems to be abandoning it. Even as many do follow their religion, few truly live a life for it. We still have faith though in the form of fiat currency; fiat being Latin for faith. We worship the all mighty dollar which is worthless without our faith. We seem to have simply exchanged the old gods for new ones that are more modern. Our new God is capitalism, and we attend his church almost every day.
We praise him when we get dressed in the morning for school or work. We worship him when we swipe our credit cards at the cashier. We pray for him when we go window shopping, which is more often through a screen than a window now. Should we call it screen shopping? The advertisers have become the priests of this pseudo god, going door to door in magazines, letters and coupons like Jehovah’s Witnesses. We tithe to him when we pay our taxes, which is nearly constant as there are taxes for income, property, sales, death, almost everything we do involves making an offering to this false god. A god that we made for the relevance of our time to fill a hole in our world when we abandoned the old gods.
Slowly being forgotten is the old world, which is perceived as obsolete. The spiritual and natural world, of which we cherished for millennia only to be abandoned in the name of progress. Religion is attacked or corrupted as a means of control, and in many instances, that is what it has become. Few today will take the time or have the desire for introspection. The instant gratification of the smartphone deprives us of our quiet moments or boredom. There is almost no appreciation for the natural world, as our endless consumption threatens the environment. There are some left on this planet who are still searching for answers by means of meditation, yoga and grounding. Grounding is simply the act of walking barefoot outside. This lost art is all about connecting with the natural and limitless healing energy of the Earth. The idea of grounding is it can reduce stress and reduce disease and inflammation. I’m not scientist and don’t buy all the benefits of it, but the logic of connecting with the natural world makes a lot of sense as far as de-stressing goes. We spend more and more time indoors and even when we do go outside, we wear shoes that separate our skin from the Earth. I’m not advocating going barefoot everywhere, especially in public, but it is a freeing sensation to walk barefoot on a nice bed of grass.
We strive to reconnect with our true selves and the natural world. Seeing trees and green outside is good for our health and our mood, which is not groundbreaking knowledge as nature is our natural habitat. We need to spend less time on the internet and more time in the real world. We march onward towards the future, unyielding, while we long for the simplicity of the past. This lifestyle is brutal, unforgiving and stressful, but few question it lest they get left behind.
At least once a day, I try to meditate for a few minutes. Our lives are so fast paced and chaotic, sometimes it helps to just slow down and breathe. I always leave my meditation feeling refreshed and calm. I find that it keeps me centered and helps me control my emotions better. I feel less stress on the days when I meditate and generally feel more connected to the world. In time, I have found that it brings peace and clarity. I feel a conscious awakening in others; a sense of growing unity. I feel more mindful throughout the day. I taste food and drink more vividly and see more detail in my environment. I notice the beauty of life more. I feel a connection to nature, especially trees. The Celts used to meditate on life and revel in nature at a sacred site where the original Notre Dame was built. This is an ancient practice shared by many diverse cultures, so there must be benefits to the practice.
Love Conquers All
All life is inter-connected and we are responsible for our own actions. We should be able to love one another unconditionally and to at the very least respect each other. All religions are supposed to be based on love but so often it is conditional love. Our God will love you, but only if you dress appropriately, don’t put tattoos on your body, tithe 10 percent and spend an hour listening to the old guy read from a 2000-year-old book. Well, many churches mean well, some more than others, but this concept of love that so often is practiced is heavily conditional. It’s these very conditions that have scared and are scaring people away from the church, and even worse, from spirituality. What concerns me is that some of us have turned away from spiritualism but still seem to long for what church and spirituality can provide. We all long for a sense of belonging or a tribe to call our own. Belonging to groups online is a faux connection that has benefits, but its missing what is special about more personal relationships. They say that 90 percent of human communication is non-verbal and a keyboard can only convey so much.
“We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely.” – John Taylor Gatto
Unfortunately, many of the alternatives have been less about love and more about hate. Spend a little time in a major city or on social media and some seem to be forming cult like tribes along political party lines, neither of which seem to be very happy about much of anything, yet they plunge on as if they are in a war against one another. It even feels as if political affiliation has become a religion for some extreme cases. You have devout followers and people who go door to door spreading the good word in hopes of swaying you to their side. I used to live in a small town where people would occasionally try and sway you to join their church and it was always under the best of intentions as they came to you from a place of love. This us vs them in politics seems to have missed the boat on that tactic, which I think worked well for the churchgoers. Instead I see a lot of shouting and anger. Even when I agree with what is being said, I don’t want to associate with either side. Life is beautiful and amazing, and the average person has so much to share. The amount of creativity that I find each day coming from our fellow beings is truly mind-blowing. A person is way too complex to fit into these labels that many try to use to heuristically categorize you. Even when we meet people, we essentially ask for the TL:DR by trying to see what archetype they belong to. Often people will do this subconsciously as the mind will hear what it wants to hear. We are doing a disservice to one another when we try and put people into little ticky tacky boxes.
The truth of the political divide is that most of us want the same things, but the media has tricked us into believing how different we are by forcing wedge issues into our heads. Ignoring those issues for a minute, most of us really want to have good education, job opportunity and clean water and food. But those aren’t the sexy headlines that talking heads can argue about. Arguing about politics has become an entire industry onto itself, with the only production being fear. Who is going to profit from cleaning up water and upgrading infrastructure? Apparently, few if anyone, considering that Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean tap water. These are the true issues we face, but you won’t hear about them on CNN or Fox News. Fear must be profitable because just about every headline I see is about Russians or North Koreans being a threat; never mind concrete issues we face today such as Flint or the West Virginia teachers strike. Currently the argument is over a raise and they are divided between a 4% or a 5% raise, which amounts to $6.9 million difference. This sounds like a lot of money until you realize Lockheed Martin built at least 265 F-35s for about 95 million apiece. Shows what we value as a nation.
So why do we have to bicker on these negative elements? We must love one another and appreciate the good we see in each other. We don’t have to agree with everyone we encounter, but if we disagree, move on with the conversation. It has become so divisive I see many out there who fear stating where they stand on these issues. If you voted one way, half the people will accept you in their tribe and the other half will cast you out like a leper. It’s pointless and given enough issues, you’re going to alienate people whose company you value. We aren’t as different from one another if we can just control our emotions and maybe leave the politics alone for a while. Most everyone is simply trying to get to work so they can put food on the table and put a roof over their head. We used to act civilized but our way of life has become so good here that we have created enemies among ourselves just so we can fight someone. Is it so hard to just go about our lives and be happy? I recognize that 2016 was a scary year for some people and the election brought out the worst in many of us, but it is time we move on and focus on what matters. Life can be tough, and many of us are quietly struggling with something that they are too ashamed to show. It could be a mental illness, every day stress, finances or health problems. You never know when you may run into someone who just needs a little kindness. And we all could use more positivity in our days. Turn off the news and ignore the political tribalism. Neither party really cares about you; they still worship the all mighty dollar.
We deserve better and we can help make our lives better. Be a shining light for your community. Think local and help your fellow man. Meet your neighbors and help one another. Grow your own food. Get reconnected with nature. Spending 30 minutes walking through the woods or a park will make you feel much better than watching the news. It’s not even news anymore, but propaganda. Seek peace in meditation. Try out yoga, and eat healthy foods, not processed junk that giant corporations try and pass off as food. If you can go 30 days without soda or Doritos, you won’t even miss it. Don’t be a mindless consumer in the church of capitalism. It’s fine to buy what makes you happy, but true fulfillment rarely comes in a box. Create something beautiful and share it.