It appears that people everywhere on earth are suffering the effects of an undiagnosed disease we may call sick worldview. The disease can really be alarming. When two sick worldviews are at war with each other -- as, for example, rationalistic materialism and psychopathic apocalypticism – all hell can break out. And has.
People with grand worldviews use their views to justify crimes against humanity, each of course in their own peculiar way, be it flamboyantly barbaric or ignobly hypocritical. What they have in common is a system of self-deception that permits them to dehumanize and if need be destroy their enemies. History is the charnel house where the victims of other people’s pictures of reality are continually piling up.
In America, the dominant worldview is to a large degree manufactured by corporate capitalism – an enterprise dedicated with an iron will to one thing: money, money, money. Truly, inhuman. Among the more blatant terrorists, the proclaimed worldview is contrived by savage distortion of religious traditions. Sick worldviews are belligerent, causing misery, instability, and much more, especially for the unlucky mass of the poor and powerless.
Is there anything we can do to palliate the epidemic of sick worldviews?
A renewal of civilization may come from within, according to Vico, through a poetic rebirth of consciousness. But for that a culture has to be reduced to its beginnings. It has to be nearly destroyed, and undergo something like a collective near-death experience. That sounds uncomfortably extreme. Is there a less violent, perhaps longer path to the higher goal?
Well, we could issue a call for a National Contest. We could ask the American people to think about their working picture of reality. We could promote it as a revival and a healing of the American worldview. Questions would have to be asked. What are our most life-enhancing aims? What ideas quicken our spirits? What values are we willing to fight for? What visions do we long to share with the world?
Or, in a critical vein, we might ask, are we more interested in getting even, punishing, or obliterating the people or persons we hold in disesteem (or outright loathe)? And do we really cherish our conscious beliefs? Or are they lukewarm, affected, artificial? Are we happy with the guiding ideas and assumptions that sneakily shape our moment to moment moods and choices? Or, are there weak spots, sore spots, possibly, some sick spots?
Let’s suppose there really are victims of sick-worldview disease. Remember, it can strike when you least expect it. The calculated moves, the smooth routines you rely on suddenly fail, slip away, get hazy. In the excitement of novelty or terror, old beliefs are shattered, old skills forgotten. The vertigo of existence is no longer a metaphor. The ground tilts, you stumble, and swivel. There are feelings of being pushed over the edge.
What then? Are your saving resources at the ready? Any place, inner or outer, you can retreat to or mount an attack from? What is your most secure vantage point ? Does that sound strange or unreal to you? Is there a place where you can deal with obstacles that seem to be rushing at you from all directions? Or is there none? Are you standing naked and alone before a monstrous mystery, an implacable universe?
How to churn out a saving vision. A stance. A posture. That I suppose is my own long-term problem. But what are the key ingredients? We need something that cooks! Or are we incapable of taking any vision to heart? Could it be that through no fault of our own we are soul-dead from our information-clogged arteries?
So here’s my suggestion – as I said, let’s create a contest. We Americans love a contest, we love competition -- so let’s do it!
WANTED: Entries for a new vision of human life on planet Earth.
Basic requirement: Capacity to absorb and transform into wisdom the various catastrophes heading our way.
The vision must be free of Trumpery and all the disreputable Hillary effects.
The vision must be revolutionary without retrogression.
All contestants are welcome. We entertain the suggestions of angels and extraterrestrials, and as well the incarcerated and the variously dubbed insane.
Without a vision the people will perish, said the old writer of Proverbs. Or as William James said, the most important thing about us is our view of the world, for it unconsciously shapes our lives, warping or honing our humanity and way of engaging the world.
Allowing for all sorts of people, what sort of vision can we imagine that would unite us in our basic humanity but also advance our personal evolution, and not bring it to a crashing stop?