Today, December 30th of the waning year 2013, Chrystina Trulove-Reyes posted a question about Rethinking Survival.
She wrote: “I would like to know more about the book. Is it about survival, the human condition, or mythology.”
Hmm. I answered back, “Good question. The short answer is, All of the above. The long answer deserves a post.”
Here I must caution, as I do in Rethinking, about the flexible nature of the English language. We often miss each other coming and going because the same word can mean many different things. This makes clarity in communication challenging — at best.
My answer as to whether Rethinking is about survival, the human condition, or mythology depends on what you and I mean. And it’s not really an either-or choice.
This isn’t just a quibble.
For example, take the word “mythology.” In the full spectrum use of “mythology,” it can simply mean fiction. But sometimes the slang use implies unscientific and therefore utterly false.
In a certain way, Chrystina, you’re creating a mythology with Cleopatra Stevens at survivingthezombieapocolypse.wordpress.com. But your story, though fiction, also speaks to the human condition.
Joseph Campbell, the famous comparative religion buff, used “myth” to describe the creation stories of the world’s great religions. These stories may be fiction, but they have served to answer our deepest questions. How did we get here? What is humanity’s place in creation? They define our common purpose and suggest possible futures.
From Campbell’s perspective, Yes. Rethinking is about mythology and the human condition. It’s basically one and the same subject.
“Paradigm” is another word for myth. It’s a structure for how we define ourselves, the operating rules of the world we live in, and humanity’s possible futures. Paradigm is used interchangeably with world view and belief system. Rethinking is, most importantly, about the importance and effect of paradigms.
In this context, Rethinking is also about survival. My point is that our belief systems — paradigms, world views, mythologies — shape our experience. To the extent that they’re false — don’t correspond with the facts — they can drive us crazy, push us to murder or even suicide. They can endanger our very existence.
When Einstein said we will need a substantially new way of thinking if humanity is to survive, he was referring to the dangerous effects of limited, separatist thinking. According to him, we must to expand our circle of compassion to get free from the prison of limiting world views.
Rethinking answers this urgent need.
So, Yes. it is about human survival. Yes. It is about mythology insofar as the term is interchangeable with paradigms and belief systems. And, Yes, because paradigms have a great impact, for better or worse, on the human condition, it is about this as well.
Thus my short answer: All of the above.