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Peter Sis

What you say of your neighbour, how you talk, how you walk, how you look at the skies, at the birds, how you treat people, how you cut a branch — all these things are important, because they act like mirrors that show you as you are and, if you are alert, you discover everything anew from moment to moment. — J Krishnamurti

“If you’re out of your mind in another culture or quite disturbed or impotent or anorexic, you look at what you’ve been eating, who’s been casting spells on you, what taboo you’ve crossed, what you haven’t done right, when you last missed reverence to the Gods or didn’t take part in the dance, broke some tribal custom.

It would never, never be what happened to you with your mother and your father forty years ago. Only our culture uses that model, that myth.” — James Hillman

Every culture has an ideal successful human. Ours is a little stupid, in my opinion. It’s superficial in the extreme, based on how we look to others, how much we own, how well we can sell ourselves to the highest bidder.

Marketing detached from scruples is the norm in our ethos. Those who can successfully accomplish this trick are held up as paragons to imitate. It’s a fairly rarified talent, though. If it were common, maybe there would be fewer homeless and poverty stricken people wandering our streets.

We suspect there is a deeper meaning in life, but we just don’t have time to consider it, what with everything else requiring our attention. We do have to eat and pay the rent, after all. We have to feed the children and avoid displeasing the boss. We just hope to stay healthy enough to keep working and stay out of debt. It’s a fine line to walk.

Giving serious attention to the meaning of life is a luxury few can afford. It’s at the end of our to-do list.

But that’s just our culture. There are other cultures that focus on different aspects of existence. It behooves us to get ourselves abroad to places where the American paradigm is just a rumor, where mystery and beauty hold sway. Those places do exist, believe it or not.

Humans are clueless about how best to be human, strange to say. Some are lucky to belong to a wise and grounded culture, but those cultures have become few and far between in the larger human family. The mechanized mindset has taken over the human population. It has invaded and destroyed the balance between humans and the rest of the natural world.

It seems we are all destined for a refugee lifestyle because of political and climate upheaval. We hear stories in our safe haven of chaos and catastrophes in foreign countries, and hoards of different looking people descend on us speaking in foreign tongues. We feel no responsibility for them or their situation because we are ignorant of our own history. We don’t see cause and effect, and even if we did, would we be capable of sympathy for these unfortunates?

I don’t believe a self-and-profit obsessed culture can last very long because it violates every natural law, from spiritual to ecologic. The detritus our culture throws off will soon overwhelm us.

It’s past time for a general refocus. We who make art and speak truth are in the spotlight now. We have a role to play in this scenario.

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