I had surgery on my elbow yesterday so if this post seems a little crazier than usual then we should just go ahead and blame that on the painkillers and their inability to kill the pain completely.
I think that pain (physical and emotional) has a way of distorting perspective. This distortion serves a purpose necessary for reflection and introspection – but to follow its distortion in a logical sense leads to a death-urge. And while death is nothing to be afraid of, I don’t think that it is anything to be yearned for either.
The tradition that I was raised in (christianity) has as its main character a man with a death urge. My own perspective on the Jesus character is that his death was an act of the ego. The christian religion is an often beautiful story of love and community and yet both the old and new testament are peppered with so many shocking instances of violence that I find difficulty in accepting any of it as true.
Christianity’s death urge also runs head long into apocalypticism. Consider it from this perspective: Christians spend their days believing that they are living in the “end of days” fully expecting the return of Jesus to come at anytime. If the Christian is to take the impending apocalypse seriously then they might demonstrate one or both of these behavioral traits: They will live an ethical life in the hopes that they will be judged as righteous and worthy of salvation. Or they may live life in reckless abandon, believing that each moment must be seized with all of one’s energy and passion – consequences to one’s actions are irrelevant since the end of the world is imminent.
The latter perspective gives rise to a belief in the value of a concept known as “dominionism.” Here’s the wiki for your educational edification: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominionism The implications of dominionism have everything to do with the christian death urge. The concept as a whole is derived from the passage in Genesis in which God, shortly after creating the world, tells Adam and Eve to have dominion over the earth and all its creatures. This goes much further than the idea of “stewardship,” instead implying that humanity is given total control and all the rights therein of the planet. This also includes a justification for destroying the world via controlling the global political economy by controlling the lion’s share of the energy supply. Hard line dominionists can be found at all levels of corporate and government leadership. Where there is energy there is power; and where there is power there is money.
Dominionism must be met with resistance. It is self-destructive and must be stopped. Of course if it continues on its current path, it will essentially stop itself. This would be an apocalypse of some sort – but it might be best understood as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Here is my proposed alternative to dominionism. It demands that we make the self sacrificing behavior of “de-anthropocentrization.” In other words, we must stop privileging humanity before nature and our environment. We must stop all forms of hierarchical thinking. When the playing field is level then we’ll be able to start cleaning up the mess we’re in and also begin healing our collective psyche.