Sunday, June 14, 2020

Transcending The Myth Of Separation

                                                                                                      written 7 June 2020
                                                                                                published 14 June 2020

            For thousands of years, "fear of other" has shaped society and civilizations into patterns of domination, control, hate, oppression and war, perpetuated by the Myth of Separation: the illusion that "self" is isolated and thus threatened by everything that appears as "not-self".  
            Over that same interval, enlightened individuals, inspired by deep compassion, have taught the power of love over fear.  The core of Christ's teaching is "love the other as yourself": The Golden Rule.  As testimony to its universality, this teaching is found in every spiritual tradition around the world, an expression of unity reality which experiences all form arising from the same fundamental source.  The journey from separation to unity, from fear to love, is the history of human civilization, still unfolding today.
            The founding of America was part of that journey and a radical social experiment at the time.  The US Declaration of Independence, stating "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal," and the US Constitution intending to "form a more perfect union", institutionalized equality under the law.  Even though the nation's founders almost limited legal equality to just land owners, and did limit it to men, generally white men, over time the integrity of the initial purpose has extended the equality franchise to include women and people of color.  Obviously, this is still a work in progress, and the Myth of Separation has not been put to rest.  
            Everyone has now seen video of four white "peace officers" killing George Floyd by asphyxiation while he was down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind him.  Without a doubt, those white men did NOT see George Floyd as "one of them".  He was "other", to be feared and dominated by force.  The fact that all four officers are now charged and in jail is a good first step, but it is important to recognize that this specific event, and racial injustice in general, though outrageous, is a symptom of the Myth of Separation and "fear of other", which corrodes our society in many ways simultaneously.
            The Minneapolis police department had already received numerous complaints about officer Derek Chauvin, the man directly responsible for George Floyd's death.  
Fearing bad publicity, the department chose to protecting their own and hid the actions of bad cops, sacrificing the larger community, destroying trust and accumulating grievances.  
            The Myth of Separation inspires misogyny, hatred of women, and the systematic economic devaluing of women, casting half of humanity as "other".  Economic inequity, where three white men own as much as the poorest half of America, is institutionalized separation, literally devaluing the "other".  Class systems that divide the "other" by religion, income, education, or neighborhood are another form of endemic separation.  This fosters the idea that some people are disposable, relative to the larger good.
            The Myth of Separation supports the dominant consumer economy's rapacious destruction and contamination of the environment by projecting the "other" onto everything non-human, building acceptance for sacrifice zones devoid of life.  The raw materials of the Earth are not necessarily feared, but are clearly not loved, or considered with sacred regard, being despoiled with apparent impunity.  All living creatures are defined as pests to be eradicated, or resources to be processed, for the generation of short term profit for a few.  The valuation of whole ecosystems is limited to how these systems benefit humanity alone. The issue of climate change casts the entire planet as "other", despite being essential to all life, now bringing humanity to a tipping point.  We can no longer be so numerous, so powerful, and so ignorant. We must transcend the Myth of Separation.
            Fortunately, we can all play a part.  While I have little real power to change anyone else, I am the only person who can change my own perspective.  Thus, it is incumbent on each of us to recognize when we are operating from fear within the Separation Myth and make the conscious shift from fear to love, actually living The Golden Rule.  This will require changing every aspect of our culture, a massive undertaking.  However, every day we see more clearly how the culture of fear is killing us all, and we who are alive today are here to accomplish this task.