Ok so I’m laying in the water enjoying an early morning swim at a nearby harbour-pool when all these thoughts stream into my mind. A sign that my mind has had enough vacation? I’m not sure.. Narratives of Peace is a topic I’m looking at doing a research project on in the second half of this year…
We ALL have a Narrative Of Peace (NOP) – that is, a story we tell ourselves will bring us toward a more peaceful place.
Even suicide bombers have one – acting with the conviction that their action will bring about eternal peace for themselves and their families, and bring about a world of greater peace for their descendants.
Religious narratives are quite obviously based on a NOP. If you do this… believe this… say this… then you will go to heaven and live in eternal peace.
In a capitalist world a majority look for the next purchase that they hope will bring them peace. Or maybe it’s a mortgage paid-off, moving to a bigger house, a better street, buying a boat, accumulating a certain digit on a bank statement. After this and this and this, then I’ll be happy, then I will be at peace.
Politics, ideologies, even the histories as told by the winners – are told in a narrative, one said to lead toward peace. Even our culturally defined pursuits of love and success – are narratives with at root a narrative of peace: a desire for happiness, harmony and completeness.
Evolution is a narrative, although the scientific one might not set its sights on peace. Is that the missing link? Over and above whatever other “missing links” exist… what meaning can be drawn from this 14 billion year process of evolution? What is it that we are evolving towards?
Which narratives are right, which are wrong? I guess that depends on the storyteller. It depends on the lens he or she sees the world through.
Is there a “grand narrative” of truth that transcends them all? If a grand narrative does exist we can be sure we will never know it, not in our present conscious anyway.
I understand where the postmodernists come from – the rejection of a grand-narrative, the rejection of absolute truth. I do see their point.
Today I was thinking about post modernism and the (very little) understanding I have of quantum physics… if all possibilities exist simultaneously until the observer observes one or the other, then surely we, as observers, are the creators of whatever individual truth we wish to create? Maybe postmodernists are right – it seems like at least on quantum levels no one truth exists until we select it.
Ok, crap. Now I think I’ve tied myself in a knot.
I do believe there is a grand narrative in the non-quantum dimension we find ourselves in. Sure I will never know for sure, maybe there are millions of grand narratives sitting, awaiting us to select one to observe. But I like to think there is one grand narrative that exists, one we can engage with and move closer to… and let me tell you why.
I suppose it is reasonable to say that some narratives that exist today are more true than others – depending on the sources of one’s data and the mental processes one engages in.
If we were able to look at our world through a lens that sat outside our universe, observing past, present and future all as one… I suppose it is reasonable to say that this non-earthly perspective or “Godly” perspective, we would be closer to the “truth” than any earthly lens we look through today.
If these to propositions are true then shouldn’t we be setting our sights on discovering this grand narrative, and drawing from it a narrative of peace? What would the world look like from the perspective of The Universe or even from a perspective outside our universe?
What is the point? How will it help us?
Ok. Consider the fact that fundamentalist religions are experiencing the most rapid growth they have ever experienced. Why??? I think it is because they offer a grand narrative. Granted they are a grand narratives based on words of historical men misinterpreted in our modernistic mentalities (mythos interpreted as logos, Jewish midrash as literal event, symbolic meanings stripped to create historical “truths” that our degenerating modern minds can understand)… but what they do offer the masses is something that evolution as it stands is often not presented to offer. Religions offer people a sense of wholeness: a sense of completeness; a sense of meaning; a purpose for one’s life.
Ok, now consider the “clash of civilisations” predicted to come from the clash of such fundamentalist movements. And the growing animosity between atheism and theism. Surely that is motivation to identify gaps and seek bridges?
Evolution as it stands, particularly since the dawn of post modernism, has failed to provide such a perspective. Where does my tiny individual consciousness fit into the big monstrous picture of an expanding universe? Evolution provided us a grand-narrative but somehow we abandoned it after WW2. We don’t need to look for a new ideology or new religion to replace it, we just need to take another look – reinterpret what it means to be a part of the grand evolutionary process.
If we little humans are but tiny pieces of a universal puzzle that continuously becomes more complicated as the space expands, what the heck can we do about it? Can we actually have a role to play?
Yes, I believe we can. I believe we do. The self-awareness of human consciousness is more advanced and complex than any other form of consciousness that we are aware of. And rather than running away from this gift we have to embrace it, figure out whatever the heck we are going to do with it in the millions of years to come.
As far as we know this awareness is new, extraordinarily new – given that our bodily shape has only been in this form for 700,000 years, and our minds have expanded exponentially faster through to the speed of change and information transmission we are witnessing today.
Recognising this gift. Living in awe of our awareness. And hopefully preventing it from imminent self-destruction has surely got to be a step in the pursuit of peace.
Have I lost you? I might even have lost myself in this one. Somewhere in my mind this makes sense but the rest of my mind hasn’t quite caught on. Maybe when these ideas are clearer in my own cognition I’ll be able to share this a little better than I’m doing today.